What does the future of Internet telephony hold? Bleeding Edge

What does the future of Internet telephony hold? Bleeding Edge: a blog around future uses for voice technology and how it will affect businesses.

today’s topic is chat masala, a new service from india.

for $7.95/month you get unlimited worldwide calling to landlines in india + 20 free minutes to the U.S., canada, singapore, hong kong and malaysia + all the usual voip goodness: call forwarding, voicemail, 3-way calling, etc.

the fine print shows that it’s actually an indian voip provider selling to the diaspora. if you are in india, you can’t use this service because voip is illegal there (i think).

that said, it’s not too hard to imagine a time when voip becomes legal in india and this company’s user base quickly multiplies as people switch from their local telco. indian telecom companies have been notoriously bad at customer service and their rates are still relatively high (india usually leads the world in mobile phone growth but has lagged behind in fixed line phones). plus voip offers instant messaging (which could be useful for families separated by oceans) and cheap calling within india.

I’m going to start a blog, to document the bleeding edge of voice technology and how it’s transforming the way we do business.

I’ll explore all aspects of Internet telephony, from new devices to new uses for existing services. I’ll look at products in development and talk about what I think will work and what won’t (and why). I’ll also talk about some of the more interesting work going on in my own lab.

You may know me as the developer of Chat Masala, but I’ve been doing voice research for almost twenty years, and I’ve seen many amazing things happen in the field. I think the next few years will be even more exciting.

To get started, here’s a project that will probably never see the light of day: a system that translates speech into a very simple language and transmits it over ordinary land lines. The idea is to allow deaf people to make telephone calls without needing any specialized hardware or software.

It turns out to be surprisingly easy to build a system that does this. You just record someone speaking at one end, use some phonetic analysis software to translate their words into text, then send the text over ordinary telephone lines using an ordinary modem. At the other end you have another modem connected to

The future of telephony will be a mashup of many technologies. By the end of next year, you’ll be able to use a mobile phone to record your voice in a Web browser, convert it to text and post it on your blog.

Internet telephony is the future of communications. If you’re a business that wants to communicate with customers and prospects inexpensively, then Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has some definite advantages. But VoIP isn’t just about free long distance or reduced overhead by cutting out the middleman (i.e., telephone companies). VoIP is also about new revenue streams and emerging applications that are only possible because of its convergence with Internet technology.

VoIP services have long been an attractive alternative to traditional phone service for their low cost, but they’ve been hampered by poor voice quality and lack of 911 service. Now the technology has improved so much that it’s beginning to attract more businesses with its new features, such as unified messaging – which delivers voice mail via e-mail – and presence management, which lets users see whether a colleague is available before picking up the phone.

The future of Internet telephony holds great promise for both businesses and consumers. To start, let’s take a look at where we are today, and then explore some of the possible trends we may find in the near future.

The Present

The technology that drives voice over IP (VoIP) is not new: it has been used since the early days of the Internet to transmit telephone calls over data networks. However, VoIP has only recently begun to gain widespread acceptance as a viable alternative to traditional phone services. Recent years have seen many improvements in this technology, including a dramatic increase in speed and reliability. In fact, VoIP is now being used by millions of businesses and consumers around the world to make inexpensive phone calls anywhere in the world.

What is VoIP? Basically, it is a technology that allows you to make voice calls over the Internet. You can use your computer or even a special phone called an IP phone to make these calls. To make calls with your computer, you will need software such as Skype or Google Talk.

The future of voice on the Internet is going to be fascinating. VoIP has been around for many years, but it’s very difficult to get it right in the consumer market. Consumers don’t want to spend time setting up phone systems and managing them, which is why Skype still has a long way to go.

Businesses are becoming more interested in VoIP as it becomes more reliable and better integrated with existing data networks. Some businesses are starting to move parts of their operations over to private VoIP systems because they can be integrated with back-end applications and support features like call recording, something that is not possible with traditional phone lines.

As business moves onto the web, there will be more opportunities for new types of services that are tightly coupled with voice communications. One company that is well positioned for this is Jajah, who provide a web based service that allows you to make cheap international calls from your computer using your existing phone line. It’s a great example of how voice can be used in new ways by combining traditional telephony with the Internet, and shows what opportunities will open up as VoIP matures.

This week, I am in the middle of a major project that has had me researching all sorts of voice-related technologies. At the same time, I’ve been working through some of the conversations from TEDGlobal 2009, which took place almost two years ago.

One of the talks from TEDGlobal 2009 was by Tim Berners-Lee and he talked about semantic web technologies and web 3.0. From the talk, he made some predictions about where search would be in five years time and how it would work on the semantic web. Five years is not really that long of a time but it’s interesting to see how some things have evolved since then.

About two minutes into his talk, Berners-Lee discussed how someone might use search to find a good curry dish in their area with some specific ingredients. Today, we can definitely find local restaurants using Yelp or other online directories, but finding that perfect dish is still a bit more difficult.

I actually think we will be able to find great dishes based on what we want without having to first visit a restaurant’s website. It won’t be hard because our preferences will already be stored somewhere – perhaps in a preference account that is stored locally or in the cloud (like I describe here). Also – with the addition

Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with John Zetmeir of Chat Masala. We spoke about his company’s mission and how they are accomplishing it. The idea of Chat Masala is to connect the world by allowing people to speak to each other in languages they don’t even know.

The idea is simple: A person who does not speak a language calls on the phone and talks to a person who speaks that language; the second person writes down what was said in a note pad, then calls another person who speaks another language, and so on until the message is relayed back to the original person in their native language.

What makes this unique? Well, for starters, it’s just cool! And it’s actually very useful! I have a friend from Estonia who does not speak English well at all. When I call him he has to put me on speaker phone and have someone else translate for him, or he has to write down what I am saying and then read it back to me to see if he understood correctly. It can be a long process and sometimes I think he gets tired of having someone else around every time I call. With Chat Masala he can talk directly to me in his native tongue (Estonian) and someone else

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