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SMS Dictator: Send SMS Messages Using Any Asterisk Phone

Here's another Google™ speech-to-text application for your Asterisk® goody bag. Today's installment lets you pick up any phone on your Asterisk system, dictate a brief message, have it transcribed by Google, and then delivered as an SMS text message to any 10-digit number of your choosing. The installation process on PBX in a Flash™ systems takes only a minute. And you'll find Asterisk SMS Messaging to be a welcome addition to your VoIP Swiss Army Knife.

Prerequisites. For the installer to work seamlessly, you'll need a PBX in a Flash 2 server with the PERL gvoice CLI tool. You can test whether this is working by logging into your server as root and issuing the command: gvoice. When prompted for your Google Voice account name, enter it and include @gmail.com. Then enter your password. If you get a gvoice prompt, all is well. Type quit to exit. If you get errors or the gvoice app doesn't exist, click on the gvoice link in this paragraph to get things squared away.

You'll also need a Google Voice™ account that can be used to send the SMS messages. Today's SMS installer will prompt you for your Google Voice account name in the format: myname@gmail.com. Then you'll be prompted for your Google Voice password. Once you've entered your credentials, the rest is automagic. With a little manual tweaking of the installation script, you can get this working on any Asterisk-based server running under Linux.

As configured, SMS Dictator™ uses extension 767 (S-M-S) to generate SMS messages. If this conflicts with an extension on your server, you can edit the extensions_custom.conf dialplan in /etc/asterisk.

Legal Disclaimer. What we're demonstrating today is how to use a publicly accessible web resource to respond to dictation requests generated by a phone connected to your Asterisk server. We're assuming that Google has its legal bases covered and has a right to provide the public service they are offering. We are not vouching for Google or the services being offered in any way. By using our tutorial, YOU AGREE TO ASSUME ALL RISKS, LEGAL AND OTHERWISE, ASSOCIATED WITH USE OF THIS FREELY ACCESSIBLE WEB TOOL. NO WARRANTY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED IS BEING PROVIDED BY US INCLUDING ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR USE OR MERCHANTABILITY. You, of course, have an absolute right not to read our articles or implement our code if you have reservations of any kind or are unwilling to assume all risks associated with such use. Sorry for legalese, but it's the time in which we live I'm afraid. Plain English: "Don't Shoot the Messenger!"

Installation. To install SMS Dictator, log into your PBX in a Flash server as root and issue the following commands:

cd /root
wget http://nerdvittles.com/sms-dictator.sh
chmod +x sms-dictator.sh

Accept the license agreement and fill in your Google Voice credentials when prompted. In under a minute, you'll be ready to test things out.

Taking SMS Dictator for a Spin. Now you're ready to try it. Pick up any phone connected to your Asterisk server. Dial S-M-S (767). When prompted, dictate a brief message and press #. If the transcription played back is correct, press 1. Or you can press 2 to try again. When prompted, enter the 10-digit number of the SMS recipient. If the number read back to you is correct, press 1 to send the SMS message or press 2 to enter a new 10-digit number. It's as simple as that.

AsteriDex Integration. If you're using AsteriDex for your contacts, then it's pretty simple to look up SMS contact numbers from there instead of having to remember them and manually key them in. Log into your server as root and replace the 767 dialplan code in /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf with the following. Be sure to insert your credentials in the gvoice line (3d from the bottom), save your changes, and reload your Asterisk dialplan by entering this command: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

; SMS Dictator for AsteriDex
exten => 767,1,Answer
exten => 767,n,Wait(1)
exten => 767,n(record),Flite("After the beep. I will reecord your S.M.S message. When you're finished. press the pound key.")
exten => 767,n,agi(speech-recog.agi,en-US)
exten => 767,n,Noop(= Script returned: ${status} , ${id} , ${confidence} , ${utterance} =)
exten => 767,n,Flite("I think you said: ${utterance}")
exten => 767,n,Flite("If this is correct. press 1.")
exten => 767,n,Flite("To start over. press 2.")
exten => 767,n,Flite("To cancel and hang up. press 3.")
exten => 767,n,Read(MYCHOICE,beep,1)
exten => 767,n,GotoIf($["foo${MYCHOICE}" = "foo1"]?continue)
exten => 767,n,GotoIf($["foo${MYCHOICE}" = "foo2"]?record)
exten => 767,n,Playback(goodbye)
exten => 767,n,Hangup
exten => 767,n(continue),Set(SMSMSG=${utterance})
exten => 767,n(pickcontact),Flite("At the beep say the name of the person or company you wish to contact. Then press the pound key.")
exten => 767,n,agi(speech-recog.agi,en-US)
exten => 767,n,Noop(= Script returned: ${status} , ${id} , ${confidence} , ${utterance} =)
exten => 767,n,AGI(nv-callwho.php,${utterance})
exten => 767,n,NoOp(Number to call: ${NUM2CALL})
exten => 767,n,GotoIf($["foo${NUM2CALL}" = "foo0"]?pickcontact)
exten => 767,n,Flite("Sending S.M.S message. One moment please.")
exten => 767,n,System(gvoice -e GVname@gmail.com -p GVpassword send_sms ${NUM2CALL} "${SMSMSG}")
exten => 767,n,Flite("S.M.S message has been sent. Good bye.")
exten => 767,n,Hangup

Next Steps. The SMS messaging possibilities, of course, are endless. A lively discussion is underway in the PIAF Forums about SMS message blasting using Asterisk. This could include notifications to Little League teams about schedule changes, or alerts from a school about emergencies, or community alerts about tornados. You can probably think up a dozen more on your own. Come join the discussion, and we'll we'll address adjusting today's application to handle SMS message lists for roboSMSing and more in the coming weeks. Enjoy!

3/2/2017 Update: A patched version of pygooglevoice to support SMS messaging is now available here.

Originally published: Monday, March 12, 2012

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