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Although there are several hundred million Internet-connected PCs in the world, this figure is dwarfed by the two billion fixed and mobile phones. The telephone is ubiquitous, increasingly mobile and could, in principle, provide a universal platform for accessing on-line services. To date efforts to harness this potential in the form of so-called interactive voice response (IVR) systems have not proved especially popular with users. There's a wind of change blowing through the IVR world, impelled by advances in speech recognition technology and a transformation of the IVR programming environment.