FonCloud new Voice 2.0 app?

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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FonCloud new Voice 2.0 app?

FōnCloud appears to be a new Voice 2.0 application in the works. Shai Berger, one of the founders of FōnCloud, happened to post a comment to my Proof is NOT in the Pudding post where I was very negative about speech-recognition word spotting to push ads to users. I wasn't familiar with Shai or FōnCloud so I thought I'd check out, but it simply says "coming soon". I headed on over to Shai's blog and noticed he called his blog "Call the Cloud".

In his somewhat rebuttal to my Pudding Media blog post, Shai explains why having a 3rd party on the call in the "cloud" is a good thing.

He writes in Look Past the Pudding:
Once you have speech recognition “on the call” lots of options open up. What if you could explicitly direct the cloud during your call?

“Cloud, show us Italian restaurants downtown.”
“… what’s the weather for tonight.”
“… call me a taxi.”

What if you could define your own voice commands (like a vocal YubNub?).

Once we become comfortable that the cloud is a 3rd party on our call, a world of possibilities opens up.

Think about this in a business context…
“Cloud, what appointments do I have next Tuesday?”
“… conference in Bob from accounting.”
“… how many units of the XL45 do we have in the warehouse?”

Cloud-routing of phone calls is ultimately going to improve the calling experience.

If it’s done right you will want to make your calls through the cloud and it won’t be about saving money at all.

That’s what we’re working on at FōnCloud.
It's this last line that is most fascinating. It sounds like FōnCloud is working on something that sounds eerily similar to Wildfire, a sophisticated personal assistant with speech-recognition built-in that allows to issue commands (get calendar, email, call Mr. Smith, etc). I actually met one of the founders way-back-when for a meeting in a Las Vegas hotel. I believe Wildfire started in the mid 1990s and was highly touted, but didn't get market traction. Perhaps now is the time?

Of course, TellMe, now a Microsoft subsidiary, also has speech recognition functionality and is well-known for their toll-free 800 number (800-555-TELL) that lets you issue commands to let you retrieve stock quotes, movie times, etc. TellMe also has the largest VoiceXML deployment in the world and they allow enterprises to develop VoiceXML applications. But TellMe doesn't exist in the "cloud", so it wouldn't be able to simply listen in on outbound calls to see if you issue commands for ANY outbound call you make.

In fact, according to Shai's LinkedIn profile, "FonCloud is building advanced features for web-telephony integration. Our target customers are all the consumer Voice Service Providers (VSPs) which includes telco's, cableco's, pure-play VoIP companies and PC-based offerings (Skype, GTalk, YahooVoice). Our features will be available as hosted services on a white-label basis."

Wow, this is VERY interesting. Since telcos, cablecos, and pure VoIP players all exist in the "cloud", they are the ones connecting the call and therefore they have the ability to listen to verbal commands or inject advertisements (like Pudding Media does). I certainly DO see the value in having the "cloud" intelligently listen to my conversations and listen for my verbal commands. I can see it useful for stuff like "Conference my entire IT department using their cell phone numbers" or "What is on my calendar today?" or "Read my email". You can get really advanced. For instance, teenagers can say "Tell me who hasn't yet accepted my invite for my party". Then you can say "call not responders alphabetically" or something like that. The possibilities are endless.

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