WO2002037800A2 - An information transmittal system - Google Patents

An information transmittal system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2002037800A2
WO2002037800A2 PCT/IB2001/002066 IB0102066W WO0237800A2 WO 2002037800 A2 WO2002037800 A2 WO 2002037800A2 IB 0102066 W IB0102066 W IB 0102066W WO 0237800 A2 WO0237800 A2 WO 0237800A2
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
information
telephone
system
user
database
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IB2001/002066
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2002037800A3 (en
Inventor
Anphia Van Ellinckhuijzen
Original Assignee
Anphia Van Ellinckhuijzen
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to ZA200006344 priority Critical
Priority to ZA2000/6344 priority
Application filed by Anphia Van Ellinckhuijzen filed Critical Anphia Van Ellinckhuijzen
Publication of WO2002037800A2 publication Critical patent/WO2002037800A2/en
Publication of WO2002037800A3 publication Critical patent/WO2002037800A3/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/487Arrangements for providing information services, e.g. recorded voice services, time announcements
    • H04M3/493Interactive information services, e.g. directory enquiries ; Arrangements therefor, e.g. interactive voice response [IVR] systems or voice portals

Abstract

This invention provides a method of providing information via a telephone network. The method includes the steps of recording groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings and assigning a unique code to each group or record of information. The groups or records of information are stored in association with their unique codes in a database (10). A telephone system (14) that is operable to receive and transmit telephone messages via the telephone network is used, the telephone system (14) being accessible by a user calling a predetermined telephone number. Processing means (18) which is linked to the database (10) and the telephone system (14) and which is operable to access the database (10) is provided so that, in response to a user telephoning the telephone system (14) and transmitting the unique code to the processing means (18) through the telephone system (14), the processing means (18) accesses the particular group or record of information associated with said unique code in the database (10). Said group or record of information is then transmitted to the user in the form of a voice recording, via the telephone system (14) and telephone network.

Description

AN INFORMATION TRANSMITTAL SYSTEM

THIS INVENTION relates to an information transmittal system for transmitting information via a telephone network. It relates also to a method of providing information via a telephone network and to an information searching system for searching for information via a telephone network, and to an information system.

According to one aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of providing information via a telephone network, which method includes the steps of recording groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings; assigning a unique code to each group or record of information; storing the groups or records of information in association with their unique codes in a database; providing a telephone system that is operable to receive and transmit telephone messages via the telephone network, the telephone system being accessible by a user calling a predetermined telephone number; providing processing means which is linked to the database and the telephone system and which is operable to access the database; in response to a user telephoning the telephone system and transmitting the unique code to the processing means through the telephone system, the processing means accessing the particular group or record of information associated with said unique code in the database; and transmitting said group or record of information to the user in the form of a voice recording, via the telephone system and telephone network.

The method may be specifically adapted for providing information in the form of a description of property that is available for sale, to potential purchasers. Thus, recording groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings may include recording groups or records of information containing details of properties that are available for sale or lease or hire.

As such, any reference herein to "property" must, unless otherwise indicated, be interpreted to include both immaterial property and material property in the form of both moveable and immovable property.

Recording groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings may include recording groups or records of information containing details of real estate properties that are offered for sale. Thus, in a particular embodiment of the invention wherein the method is adapted for use in providing information on real estate property that is offered for sale, to potential buyers, the method includes recording groups or records of information that contain information consisting of one or more of a group or record comprising the address of the property, the selling price, the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms and the size of the garage/carport.

The method may include displaying the telephone number of the telephone system and a particular unique code in a manner wherein the unique code is associated with a particular group or record of information. Thus, the method may include displaying the unique code associated with information on a property, together with the telephone number of the telephone system, in an advert for the property, such as on a display sign in front of the property, in an advert placed in a publication, in a radio advert, etc.

According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided an information transmittal system for transmitting information via a telephone network, the information transmittal system comprising a database in which a number of groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings, are stored in an arrangement wherein each group or record of information is associated with a unique code; a telephone system that is operable to receive and transmit telephone messages; and processing means that is linked to the database and the telephone system and that is operable to access a particular group or record of information stored in the database in response to the unique code associated with the group or record of information, being received by the telephone system via a telephone call from a user's telephone, the processing means being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit the voice recording of the accessed group or record of information to the user's telephone.

The unique code may be in the form of a unique number having one or more digits. As such, the telephone system may be operable to receive a signal containing the unique code, sent via a user's telephone.

In use, the Applicant envisages that the user's telephone will be a cellular or land line telephone having a key pad which allows the or each digit of the unique number to be entered for transmission to the telephone system.

The database may be a first database, the information transmittal system further including a second database having a number of voice prompts in the form of voice recordings, stored therein for prompting a user to transmit specified instructions to the telephone system and which is accessible by the processing means. As such, in response to a telephone call being received by the telephone system, the processing means may be operable to access a first voice prompt from the second database, prompting a user to transmit a unique code, and to activate the telephone system to transmit the voice prompt to the user. Thereafter, in response to the user transmitting a unique code to the telephone system, the processing means may be operable to access the first database for the group or record of information corresponding to the unique code.

The information transmittal system may include recording means for recording telephone messages left by a user. As such, the processing means may be operable to access a voice prompt from the second database prompting a user to transmit a message that can be recorded by the recording means. Typically, the voice recording serves to prompt a user to transmit a voice message of his/her contact details that can be recorded by the recording means. In use, the Applicant envisages that the leaving of a voice message of a user's contact details will allow an estate agent or the owner of the property or other contact person to contact the user.

The information transmittal system may include memory means in which the telephone numbers of contact persons associated with said groups or records of information, are stored, and the processing means may be operable, in response to a voice message being received by the recording means, to activate the telephone system to transmit a telephone message containing the recorded voice message, to the appropriate contact person. As such, the processing means may be operable to access the telephone number of the agent/owner corresponding to particular groups or records of information, from the memory means. In use, the estate agent/owner can then contact the user so as to provide him/her with further information or to make an appointment to consult with the estate agent/owner.

The processing means may be configured to generate a unique code associated with a group or record of information in the form of a voice recording recorded over the telephone network by the recording means, and to store the group or record of information and its associated unique code in the first database.

The processing means may be configured to activate the telephone system and to transmit a message containing the unique code over the telephone network to the telephone of the user who recorded the group or record of information.

The message containing the unique code may be transmitted as a voice message.

According to a further aspect of the invention, there is provided an information searching system for searching for information via a telephone network, the information searching system comprising a first database in which a number of groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings are stored, each group or record of information comprising a number of pockets or fields of information that each has an information code associated therewith; a second database having a number of voice prompts in the form of voice recordings stored therein, for prompting a user to enter a search code relating to one or more characteristics of the information which the user wants to search for; a telephone system that is operable to transmit said voice prompts to a user over the telephone network and that is operable to receive search codes that are entered via the keypad of the user's telephone and transmitted to the telephone system via the user's telephone in response to the voice prompts; and processing means that is linked to the first and second databases and to the telephone system and that is operable to activate the telephone system to transmit said voice prompts stored in the second database, to the user's telephone for prompting the user to enter particular search codes, the processing means being operable to search the first database, in response to each search code received by the telephone system from a user, for groups or records of information having a pocket or field of information having an information code that matches the search code, the processing means being operable to generate a starting list of groups or records of information that match the search code entered by the user and to refine the search by deleting non-matching groups or records of information from the list as further search codes are entered by the user, until a final list of matching groups or records of information is achieved, the processing means being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit said voice recordings of the final list of matching groups or records of information, to the user's telephone.

According to yet another aspect of the invention there is provided an information system for transmitting, and searching for, information via a telephone network, the information system comprising a first database in which a number of groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings, are stored in an arrangement wherein each group or record of information is associated with a unique code, each group or record of information comprising a number of pockets or fields of information that each has an information code associated therewith; a second database having a number of voice prompts in the form of voice recordings stored therein, for prompting a user to transmit specified instructions over the telephone network, and for prompting a user to enter a search code relating to one or more characteristics of information which the user wants to search for; a telephone system that is operable to receive and transmit telephone messages, to transmit said voice prompts to a user over the telephone network, and to receive search codes that are entered via the keypad of the user's telephone and transmitted to the telephone system via the user's telephone in response to the voice prompts; and processing means that is linked to the first and second databases and to the telephone system and that is operable to access a particular group or record of information stored in the first database in response to the unique code associated with the group or record of information, being received by the telephone system via a telephone call from the user's telephone, the processing means being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit the voice recording of the accessed group or record of information to the user's telephone, the processing means further being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit said voice prompts stored in the second database, to the user's telephone for prompting the user to enter particular search codes, the processing means being operable to search the first database, in response to each search code received by the telephone system from a user, for groups or records of information having a pocket or field of information having an information code that matches the search code, the processing means being operable to generate a starting list of groups or records of information that match the search code entered by the user and to refine the search by deleting non-matching groups or records of information from the list as further search codes are entered by the user, until a final list of matching groups or records of information is achieved, the processing means being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit said voice recordings of the final list of matching groups or records of information, to the user's telephone.

The unique code may be in the form of a number. The information system may include recording means for recording telephone messages left by a user.

The information system may further include memory means in which the telephone numbers of contact persons associated with said groups or records of information, are stored. The processing means may be operable, in response to a voice message being received by the recording means, to activate the telephone system to transmit a telephone message containing the recorded voice message, to the appropriate contact person.

The processing means may be configured to generate a unique code associated with a group or record of information in the form of a voice recording recorded over the telephone network by the recording means, and to store the group or record of information and its associated unique code in the first database.

The processing means may also be configured to activate the telephone system and to transmit a message containing the unique code over the telephone network to the telephone of the user who recorded the group or record of information.

The message containing the unique code may be transmitted as a voice message.

Further features of the invention are described hereinafter by way of a non-limiting example of the invention, with reference to and as illustrated in the accompanying diagrammatic drawings.

In the drawings

Figure 1 shows a schematic block diagram of an information transmittal system for transmitting information via a telephone network, in accordance with the invention; Figure 2 shows a flow diagram illustrating the information transmittal system of Figure 1 ; Figure 3 shows a schematic block diagram of an information searching system for searching for information via a telephone network, in accordance with the invention; Figure 4 shows a flow diagram illustrating the information searching system of Figure 3; and

Figure 5 shows a flow diagram illustrating the manner in which groups of information can be stored in a database forming part of the information transmittal system or the information searching system.

With reference to Figure 1 of the drawings, an information transmittal system for transmitting information via a telephone network, in accordance with the invention, is illustrated. The information transmittal system is specifically adapted for use in providing information on real estate property that is available for sale, to potential buyers. The information transmittal system comprises, broadly, a first database 1 0, a second database 1 2, a telephone system 1 4 that is operable to receive and transmit telephone messages, recording means in the form of a voice recorder 1 6 and processing means in the form of a processor 1 8 that is linked to the first and second database, the voice recorder 1 6 and the telephone system 1 4.

The first database 1 0 has a number of groups or records of information that each contain information pertaining to a particular real estate property. Each group of information consists of the address of the property, the selling price of the property, the number of bedrooms in a building forming part of the property, the number of bathrooms in the building and the size of the garage/carport, (i.e. whether or not it is a single or a double garage/carport), and a brief description of any other features of the property. Each group of information pertaining to the property is stored in an arrangement wherein each group of information is associated with a unique code.

The information transmittal system is operable to provide information on specific real estate properties to persons telephoning the telephone system 1 4. The telephone system is operable to receive and transmit telephone messages to callers and as such, in order to interact with the information transmittal system, it is necessary for a caller to telephone the telephone system 14 via a cellular phone or land line telephone 20 having a keypad which allows a particular unique code to be entered via the person's telephone 20. The second database 1 2 has a number of voice prompts in the form of voice recordings stored therein for prompting a person calling the telephone system (hereinafter referred to as a "user") to transmit specified instructions to the telephone system 1 4, by depressing keys on the keypad of the user's telephone 20.

The voice recorder 1 6 is linked to the telephone system 1 4 and is operable to record voice messages of user's telephoning the telephone system 1 4. The purpose of the voice recording 1 6 will be explained in further detail hereinafter.

The processor 1 8 is linked to the first database 1 0, the second database 1 2, the telephone system 1 4 and the voice recorder 1 6 and is operable to control the operation thereof. More particularly, the processor 1 8 is operable to access a particular group or record of information stored in the first database in response to a particular unique code associated with the group of information, being received by the telephone system 1 4, via a telephone call from a user. As such, the processor 1 8 is operable to activate the telephone system 14 to transmit the accessed group of information to the user's telephone 20.

In use, the telephone number of the telephone system 1 4 and a particular unique code that is associated with a particular property and hence, the particular group or record of information pertaining to the property, is displayed. This information may be displayed in the form of an advert for the property such as on a display sign in front of the property, in an advert placed in a publication, in a radio advert, etc. If a user is interested in obtaining further information on the property, the user can then call the telephone number of the telephone system 1 4. With reference to Figure 2 of the drawings, a user will call the telephone number, for example, "082 321 HOME" of the telephone system 14. In response to the telephone call being received from a user, the processor 1 8 accesses the first voice prompt in the form of a voice recording containing a welcoming message, from the second database 1 2 and activates the telephone system 14 to transmit this voice prompt to the user's telephone 20. The processor 1 8 then accesses a second voice prompt in the form of a voice recording prompting the user to enter the unique code associated with the property that the user is interested in. The processor then activates the telephone system to transmit the second voice prompt to the user's telephone 20. The user will then be required to enter the unique code via the keypad of his/her telephone 20. The Applicant envisages that the unique code will be in the form of a unique number. As such, the user will be required to enter each digit of the number via the keypad and to transmit the number to the telephone system 1 4.

In response to the unique code being received by the telephone system

1 4, the processor 1 8 then searches the first database 1 0 for the particular group or record of information corresponding to the unique code, accesses the relevant group of information and activates the telephone system 1 4 to transmit this group of information to the user's telephone 20.

After the termination of the transmission of the group of information to the user's telephone 20, the processor 1 8 then accesses a third voice prompt from the second database 1 2 in the form of a voice recording requesting the user to the leave a message after a tone for an estate agent/the owner of the property. If a message is left by the user, the processor 1 8 activates the voice recorder 1 6 to record the message.

The information transmittal system includes memory means in the form of a computer memory 22 that is linked to the processor 1 8 and in which the telephone numbers of the estate agent/owner of the property associated with each group or record of information, are stored. As such, in response to a telephone message from a user, being recorded by a voice recorder, the processor 1 8 activates the telephone system 1 4 to transmit a telephone message containing the recorded voice message to the estate agent/owner's telephone. In use, this will then allow the estate agent/owner to contact the user to provide him/her with further information on the property or to make an appointment to consult with the estate agent/owner. The Applicant envisages that in another embodiment of the invention, the processor 1 8 may be operable to activate the telephone system 1 4 to send a standard "SMS" text message to the telephone of an estate agent/owner that is enabled for receiving SMS text messages, for alerting the estate agent/owner of the property to the fact that a call has been received in connection with the property. The agent/owner can then contact an operator of the information transmittal system to obtain further details of the message that may have been left.

The Applicant envisages that as an optional feature of the information transmittal system, a user telephoning the telephone system 1 4 will be provided with voice prompts which will permit the user to conduct a search for information pertaining to properties meeting the user's criteria in accordance with the information searching system for searching for information via a telephone network, in accordance with the invention. Thus, the Applicant envisages that a user calling the telephone system will be asked to make a selection between entering a unique code and for searching for a specific property or conducting a search for properties in accordance with the information searching system.

With reference to Figures 3 and 4 of the drawings, an information searching system for searching for information via a telephone network, in accordance with the invention, is illustrated. The information searching system comprises, broadly, a first database 30, a second database 32, a telephone system 34 for transmitting telephone messages to and receiving telephone messages from users telephones 20 and processing means in the form of a processor 36 that is linked to the first and second databases 30, 32 and to the telephone system 34.

The first database 30 has a number of groups or records of information relating to specific properties that are available for sale, stored therein. Each group of information stored in the database 30 comprises a number of pockets or fields of information which each contain information on a particular characteristic of the property. The pockets or fields of information are arranged in the first database 30 so that each pocket or field of information has an information code associated therewith.

The second database 32 has a number of voice prompts in the form of voice recordings stored therein for prompting a user to transmit a search code relating to one or more characteristics of the kind of property which the user wants to search for. The telephone system 34 is thus operable to transmit the voice prompts to users' telephones 20 and is also operable to receive search codes that are entered via the keypad of the users' telephones 20 and transmitted to the telephone system 34 via the users' telephones 20, in response to the voices prompts.

The processor 36 is operable to activate the telephone system 34 to transmit the voice prompts that are stored in the second database 32, to a particular user's telephone 20 for prompting the user to enter particular search codes. In response to a particular search code being received by the telephone system 34 from a user's telephone 20, the processor 36 searches the first database 30 for groups or records of information that have a pocket or field of information having an information code that matches the search code entered by the user. As such, the processor 36 is operable to generate a starting list of groups of information having at least one pocket of information that matches the search code entered by the user. As more search codes are entered by the user, the search for matching groups of information will be refined with non-matching groups of information being deleted until a final list of matching groups of information is achieved. Once the final list of matching groups or records of information is achieved, the processing means 36 then activates the telephone system 34 to transmit the voice recordings of the final list of matching groups or records of information to the user's telephone 20.

With reference to Figure 4 of the drawings, a flow diagram illustrates the manner in which a search can be conducted for properties matching user's criteria. The user will be required to call the telephone system 34. As for the information transmittal system described hereinabove, the processor 36 accesses voice prompts from the second database 32 and then activates the telephone system 34 to transmit the voice prompts to the user's telephone 20. As for the information transmittal system, the information searching system allows for an interactive process whereby a user will be prompted to make a selection by entering a search code (in this instance a particular number) corresponding to particular search criteria. Hence, initially a voice prompt will give the user an option to search for particular properties by area by pressing "3" on the user's telephone keypad or to search by price bracket by entering "4" . Further selections relating to the area in which a property is sought or the price bracket of the property, can be made by entering further numbers for refining the search. After the search is refined a final list of matching groups of information is compiled by the processor 36 and the voice recordings of each group of information, containing a description of the particular property, is then transmitted to the user's telephone 20 via the telephone system 34.

It will be appreciated that the exact manner in which searches can be conducted using the information searching system in accordance with the invention, may vary greatly while still incorporating the essential features as defined and described hereinabove.

The Applicant envisages that a system will be provided which is a combination of the information transmittal system and the information searching system as defined and described hereinabove. Clearly, in such a combined system, the telephone system and the processing means at least, will be common to both the information transmittal system and the information searching system. The loading of groups or records of information containing voice recordings of descriptions of real estate property into a database from which the groups of information can then be accessed, is achieved via the telephone network. In the case of both of the information transmittal system and the information searching system, the groups of information in the form of voice recordings, are stored in the first databases of the systems. The Applicant envisages that a person wishing to load the information onto the system will be required to call the number of the telephone system. In order to facilitate loading of the information into the first database, the second databases of the systems will have stored therein, a number of voice prompts in the form of voice recordings for prompting the person to transmit a voice recording describing each of the characteristics of the relevant property. For the combined system, the first databases and the second databases may be combined so as to form a combined first database and combined second database. With reference to Figure 5 of the drawings, a flow diagram setting out the process, is illustrated. A person wishing to load information on a particular property, will be required to call the telephone number of the telephone system, i.e. "082 321 HOME" . Thereafter, a voice prompt in the form of a voice recording having a welcoming message will be transmitted to the caller's telephone. Thereafter, a voice prompt will then request the caller to enter a personal identification number (PIN), the caller will then be required to enter his/her pin via the keyboard of his/her telephone. The PIN will have been allocated to the user after the person has registered with the system operator. A number of voice prompts will then be transmitted to the caller's telephone requesting the caller to make a selection of various options including loading a new property, amending the description for an existing property stored in the first database and erasing the description of an existing property from the database.

If the loading of a new property into the first database is selected, a number of voice prompts will guide the caller to transmit voice recordings containing descriptions of various characteristics of the property to the telephone system. The voice recordings are then recorded in the first database so as to provide a full description of all of the characteristics of the property that are to be disclosed to users when calling to enquire about the property. After the descriptions of the property have been stored in the database, the caller will then be prompted to enter a telephone number to which SMS text messages can be sent. The telephone number is stored in the memory of the system where it can be accessed by the processor as described hereinabove for the information searching system, for sending the SMS text message to the person. Finally, the processor of the system on which the information has been loaded, is operable to generate a unique code corresponding to the particular property. The processor then activates the telephone system to transmit a voice recording containing the unique code to the person's telephone which can then be displayed by the person when advertising the property for sale.

The applicant further envisages that the information transmittal system and/or the information searching system, or a system which is a combination of these two, has the ability to identify the telephone number of a caller, as well as the date and time of the call, and the ability to associate and store this information with the unique code entered by the caller. This would enable an operator of the system to send SMS text messages to callers that did not leave messages on the system. If the system operator is a bank or other bond supplier, this can be a very powerful tool, as it will give access to point-of-sale leads.

The systems may also include, or be connected to, a management system. Such a management system would typically allow a principal of a large real estate agency, operating a system, to determine whether or not the agents working for the real estate agency responded to messages left by potential buyers, and to determine whether or not agents have enough "for sale" boards on display, as the systems will keep a tally of the number of callers calling with a particular unique code in mind. Such a management system can produce a management report.

The applicant also envisages that the systems can be linked to a call centre that can respond to callers that are not in possession of unique codes for entering into the systems.

The applicant further envisages that the loading of property information onto the systems can be done in bulk via the Internet. In such cases, the system is typically configured to allow personalised voice messages to be added after the property information has been loaded. This provides a convenient way in which to ensure that a whole agency database is loaded in a short period of time in a consistent format.

Lastly, the systems may also include a fax-on-demand function, enabling a caller to enter his or her own fax number for purposes of a list of properties to be faxed to the caller.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1 ■ A method of providing information via a telephone network, which method includes the steps of recording groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings; assigning a unique code to each group or record of information; storing the groups or records of information in association with their unique codes in a database; providing a telephone system that is operable to receive and transmit telephone messages via the telephone network, the telephone system being accessible by a user calling a predetermined telephone number; providing processing means which is linked to the database and the telephone system and which is operable to access the database; in response to a user telephoning the telephone system and transmitting the unique code to the processing means through the telephone system, the processing means accessing the particular group or record of information associated with said unique code in the database; and transmitting said group or record of information to the user in the form of a voice recording, via the telephone system and telephone network.
2. A method as claimed in claim 1 , in which recording groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings include recording groups or records of information containing details of properties that are available for sale or lease or hire.
3. A method as claimed in claim 1 , in which recording groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings include recording groups or records of information containing details of real estate properties that are offered for sale.
4. A method as claimed in claim 3, in which at least one group or record of information comprises the address of a property, the selling price, the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, and the size of a garage or carport.
5. A method as claimed in claim 2, which includes displaying the unique code associated with information on a property, together with the telephone number of the telephone system, in an advert for the property.
6. An information transmittal system for transmitting information via a telephone network, the information transmittal system comprising a database in which a number of groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings, are stored in an arrangement wherein each group or record of information is associated with a unique code; a telephone system that is operable to receive and transmit telephone messages; and processing means that is linked to the database and the telephone system and that is operable to access a particular group or record of information stored in the database in response to the unique code associated with the group or record of information, being received by the telephone system via a telephone call from a user's telephone, the processing means being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit the voice recording of the accessed group or record of information to the user's telephone.
7. An information transmittal system as claimed in claim 6, in which the unique code is in the form of a unique number.
8. An information transmittal system as claimed in claim 6, in which the database is a first database, the information transmittal system further including a second database having a number of voice prompts in the form of voice recordings, stored therein for prompting a user to transmit specified instructions to the telephone system and which is accessible by the processing means.
9. An information transmittal system as claimed in claim 6, which includes recording means for recording telephone messages left by a user.
1 0. An information transmittal system as claimed in claim 9, which includes memory means in which the telephone numbers of contact persons associated with said groups or records of information, are stored, and in which the processing means is operable, in response to a voice message being received by the recording means, to activate the telephone system to transmit a telephone message containing the recorded voice message, to the appropriate contact person.
1 1 . An information transmittal system as claimed in claim 9, in which the processing means is configured to generate a unique code associated with a group or record of information in the form of a voice recording recorded over the telephone network by the recording means, and to store the group or record of information and its associated unique code in the database.
1 2. An information transmittal system as claimed in claim 1 1 , in which the processing means is configured to activate the telephone system and to transmit a message containing the unique code over the telephone network to the telephone of the user who recorded the group or record of information.
1 3. An information transmittal system as claimed in claim 1 2, in which the message containing the unique code is transmitted as a voice message.
1 4. An information searching system for searching for information via a telephone network, the information searching system comprising a first database in which a number of groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings are stored, each group or record of information comprising a number of pockets or fields of information that each has an information code associated therewith; a second database having a number of voice prompts in the form of voice recordings stored therein, for prompting a user to enter a search code relating to one or more characteristics of the information which the user wants to search for; a telephone system that is operable to transmit said voice prompts to a user over the telephone network and that is operable to receive search codes that are entered via the keypad of the user's telephone and transmitted to the telephone system via the user's telephone in response to the voice prompts; and processing means that is linked to the first and second databases and to the telephone system and that is operable to activate the telephone system to transmit said voice prompts stored in the second database, to the user's telephone for prompting the user to enter particular search codes, the processing means being operable to search the first database, in response to each search code received by the telephone system from a user, for groups or records of information having a pocket or field of information having an information code that matches the search code, the processing means being operable to generate a starting list of groups or records of information that match the search code entered by the user and to refine the search by deleting non-matching groups or records of information from the list as further search codes are entered by the user, until a final list of matching groups or records of information is achieved, the processing means being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit said voice recordings of the final list of matching groups or records of information, to the user's telephone.
1 5. An information system for transmitting, and searching for, information via a telephone network, the information system comprising a first database in which a number of groups or records of information in the form of voice recordings, are stored in an arrangement wherein each group or record of information is associated with a unique code, each group or record of information comprising a number of pockets or fields of information that each has an information code associated therewith; a second database having a number of voice prompts in the form of voice recordings stored therein, for prompting a user to transmit specified instructions over the telephone network, and for prompting a user to enter a search code relating to one or more characteristics of information which the user wants to search for; a telephone system that is operable to receive and transmit telephone messages, to transmit said voice prompts to a user over the telephone network, and to receive search codes that are entered via the keypad of the user's telephone and transmitted to the telephone system via the user's telephone in response to the voice prompts; and processing means that is linked to the first and second databases and to the telephone system and that is operable to access a particular group or record of information stored in the first database in response to the unique code associated with the group or record of information, being received by the telephone system via a telephone call from the user's telephone, the processing means being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit the voice recording of the accessed group or record of information to the user's telephone, the processing means further being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit said voice prompts stored in the second database, to the user's telephone for prompting the user to enter particular search codes, the processing means being operable to search the first database, in response to each search code received by the telephone system from a user, for groups or records of information having a pocket or field of information having an information code that matches the search code, the processing means being operable to generate a starting list of groups or records of information that match the search code entered by the user and to refine the search by deleting non-matching groups or records of information from the list as further search codes are entered by the user, until a final list of matching groups or records of information is achieved, the processing means being operable to activate the telephone system to transmit said voice recordings of the final list of matching groups or records of information, to the user's telephone.
1 6. An information system as claimed in claim 1 5, in which the unique code is in the form of a number.
1 7. An information system as claimed in claim 1 5, which includes recording means for recording telephone messages left by a user.
1 8. An information system as claimed in claim 1 7, which includes memory means in which the telephone numbers of contact persons associated with said groups or records of information, are stored, and in which the processing means is operable, in response to a voice message being received by the recording means, to activate the telephone system to transmit a telephone message containing the recorded voice message, to the appropriate contact person.
1 9. An information system as claimed in claim 1 7, in which the processing means is configured to generate a unique code associated with a group or record of information in the form of a voice recording recorded over the telephone network by the recording means, and to store the group or record of information and its associated unique code in the first database.
20. An information system as claimed in claim 1 9, in which the processing means is configured to activate the telephone system and to transmit a message containing the unique code over the telephone network to the telephone of the user who recorded the group or record of information.
21 . An information system as claimed in claim 20, in which the message containing the unique code is transmitted as a voice message.
22. A method of providing information via a telephone network as claimed in claim 1 , substantially as herein described and illustrated.
23. An information transmittal system as claimed in claim 6, substantially as herein described and illustrated.
24. An information searching system as claimed in claim 1 4, substantially as herein described and illustrated.
25. An information system as claimed in claim 1 5, substantially as herein described and illustrated.
26. A new method of providing information, a new information transmittal system, a new information searching system, or a new information system, substantially as herein described.
PCT/IB2001/002066 2000-11-06 2001-11-05 An information transmittal system WO2002037800A2 (en)

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ZA2000/6344 2000-11-06

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WO2002037800A3 (en) 2002-08-22

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