Wednesday, August 18, 2010

IVR at the Museum

cell phone tour sign at the Smithsonian museumThis summer my dad and I both took some vacation time to go see my sister as a sort of mini family reunion. One of the things that we did on the trip was drive down from her place to Washington D.C. to see the sights. We went to about as much of the Smithsonian as you can fit in with only a few days of time, and while I was reading about all of the different exhibits, there was one thing I saw that stood out: cell phone audio tours.

Quite a few exhibits had signs or placards up with a phone number and "extension" that you could call from your cell phone to listen to more information about that particular display. We saw these signs everywhere from inside the different Smithsonian buildings to the National Botanic Garden. With my nerdy side shining through, I couldn't help but think, "What a wonderful application for an interactive voice response system!" Everyone these days carries a cell phone with them, and these call-in numbers give anyone who is interested the opportunity to hear more about the displays that interest them straight from the source, whether it is a recording made by the artist or the curator or gardener.

cell phone call to learn more sign at the national botanic garden
What IVR is and its Applications
Interactive voice response (IVR) has a way of sounding very complicated, and that is largely because it is such a powerful and dynamic technology that the possibilities alone can be a bit daunting. It is a little bit easier to grasp if we break it down to some of the unique applications that IVR can be used for. In this case, the museum is in essence putting together an information line. Visitors call the information line, input the number displayed for their current location, and the appropriate audio is played back to them. In other cases, it can be used as an answering attendant to direct incoming phone calls to different extensions, collecting data in an automated telephone survey, or a variety of other tasks.

So while part of me hates to admit that work followed me on my vacation in the form of IVM interactive voice response software, another part of me really got a kick out of seeing this great application for an IVR system at the museum. It's something to keep in mind if you are looking for a solution to help you share information or your expertise without having to always be available in person.


  1. I agree, we're making some really engaging content applications using IVR, we termed the phrase Phone-Podding and can distribute podcast like content via the IVR system and conduct roleplaying exercises to allow people to practice conversations. Check out a sample role play from this page

  2. I appreciate you for this nice note on IVR. As I know,IVR is a technology that automates interactions with telephone callers.Enterprises are increasingly turning to IVR to reduce the cost of common sales, service, collections, inquiry and support calls to and from their company.And, IVR applications are programs that control and respond to calls on the IVR platform. IVR applications can either be developed by an enterprise,or by companies that offer canned IVR applications.