Would you ever imagine that an Interactive Voice Response can be part of a work of art? Yes, the very same IVR, or voice response that greets you when you call businesses to book appointments (or complain). In the right hands (and with the right voices) apparently, it can.
Project “On Her Own” is one of the grant winners of the Gender Bender Project 2019— a joint venture by the Sandbox Collective and the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. The project encourages women to call a phone number where they can listen to a story, and then leave a story of their own.
On 1st August, we got a tweet from Thejesh GN thanking KOOKOO for its reliable and affordable API’s that he used for the project. Now, when your company provides technology solutions, you know your chances of being part of an art project are slim to zero. So, knowing our tech helped actualise one, was exciting news for us. A nice break from thinking about sales and customer support issues. (Don’t get us wrong, we do love thinking about sales and support issues too!)
Anyway, we didn’t waste much time in catching up with Thejesh about the project. Our first question was, why did you choose us? As in, why did you choose telephony to be part of an art project?
Thejesh explained, “when we were thinking about the best way was to get women to tell their story, we thought: why not a phone call? The phone gives the caller both privacy and a feeling of intimacy.” It is, as he pointed out, a place where we are used to sharing stories — with our friends and family — about events that take place in our lives and others lives.
Sure enough, when I called into +91-80660-84304 the story I heard, though fictionalised, was narrated like someone talking to a friend. And the sound quality is excellent. I hear every tonal nuance as my narrator moves between witty comebacks to her husband and anxious fears for her daughter.
We’ve always wanted our KOOKOO API’s to free creative minds to develop and run innovative solutions. We love how easily Thejesh was able to whip together a solution with KOOKOO. The architecture is explained by Thejesh in his blog, and basically does this: When you call, the IVR captures your language preference, and runs you through the basic concept of Project On Her Own, encouraging you to leave a story of your own. It will then pick a story for you to listen to. After you listen, it will allow you to record a story you leave behind. When you press # your recording is accepted, and the line disconnects.
The system, created over 35 days, accepts stories in English, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi. “KOOKOO makes it easy and is friendly to work with” says Thejesh, who has worked with our platform before on the innovative Nextdrop campaign.
You can catch our IVR’s brush with art “On Her Own”, next weekend at Cubbon park, Bangalore. Look for a lonely telephone resting near a bench there, or call +91-80660-84304 to listen to the beautiful stories, and possibly awaken a storyteller within.
All the very best to the entire team: Anjana Balakrishnan, Sunayana Premsundar,
Thejesh GN and Yashodhara Udapa— for the project. Hope you collect tonnes of stories.