a.k.a. voice browser for the phone -or- phone browser
A service that enables you to get Web content or e-mail over a telephone using voice recognition software. Here's an example of how it works: Instead of lugging around a laptop in order to connect to the Net and browse for information, you can opt to use your cell phone as a voice portal. AOL, for example, offers AOLbyPhone, which for a small monthly fee provides access to a toll-free dial-in number to an automated voice prompt system. You can check e-mail, get headline news, get information on movies, the weather, or restaurants in many cities, plus other features (it's similar to the kind of content that's available on a Web portal). The system will read back the information to you on any type of phone.
One challenge is that speech recognition software has a hard time in noisy environments and may not be able to accurately make out the words you say. On the plus side, after you listen to a listing of restaurants, for instance, the voice portal will offer to connect you to one of them via the phone. It is a convergence of multiple forms of technology. To try a free voice portal service, click on the link.