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Telephone Hearing Disability

June 22, 2010 10:33 AM
 By Daniel Berninger, CEO, FWD, dan@danielberninger

The gap in voice quality between a telephone call and meeting in-person has not decreased since the 1930's.  This fact is no less surprising than had a iPhone dropped from the sky as the Bell Laboratories researchers made the decisions establishing 300Hz to 3300Hz as the network frequency response 80 years ago.  It does not seem unreasonable to wonder why voice networks remain constrained by a technology decision made a decade before the invention of the transistor.

Telephone voice quality impairments have the same effect as a hearing impairment.  Telephone network voice quality limitations are telephone hearing disabilities.  The typical telephone connection gives callers the same hearing impairment as the one suffered by the typical 70 year old construction worker in the loss of the frequencies above 4000Hz associated with consonant sounds.  Even the retired construction worker will hear more of the frequencies below 500Hz, essential for recognizing voices and establishing an emotional connection, than people using telephones.

Asserting telephone call quality is "good enough" falls into the same denial category as the refusal to wear a hearing aid. A telephone conversation serves the exact same purpose as a conversation in-person.  Hearing and voice quality impairments destroy the ability to communicate - understanding.  The proliferation of the word "what?"

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Time to Get Going Again

June 22, 2010 10:23 AM
After a long hiatus I am now planning to get this blog going again. The kick-off is on a topic very dear to me, namely HD Voice. I am getting help from Dan Berninger, CEO of Free World Dialup and the driver of the HD Connect, Nova and other efforts in the HD Voice space who is posting a very interesting guest blog on this topic. 
Last week the highly anticipated HD Communication Summit  took place in New York City. I think it was a great event that can be the start of some real activity in this area. On the GIPS Blog you can find a couple of posts on the event. My collague John wrote this peice and I have shared my views in this post. The next similar event is planned for September 15 and 16.

Another great sign that HD Voice is gaining momentum is that at the next ITEXPO conference in Los Angeles on September 1 -  3 there is whole track dedicated to HD Voice.

HD Voice Webinar

May 15, 2009 7:34 PM
Last week I was one of the presenters of the webinar entitled "The Potential of HD-Voice: What's All the Noise About?". We had a  great audience and got many very interesting questions, some of which we were able to answer during the webinar. However, we did not have a chance to answer a large number of the questions. In the near future I will answer a number of them in this blog. 

The first item worth commenting on from the webinar is the results of the poll questions we asked during the webinar. Continue Reading...

The HD Voice Buzz is Increasing Fast

April 23, 2009 7:48 PM
Wideband voice delivers better voice quality than what we are used to from PSTN and cell phones. It has been around for a long time by now. The first real deployment was the G.722 codec in ISDN networks - mainly for audio conferencing. Because PSTN is inherently narrowband it took until VoIP started gaining interest until the promise of higher voice quality based on wideband voice could be realized.
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Despite uncertain economic times, there are signs of life for the VoIP and video over IP markets, as well as interesting applications popping up this week. As we noted on the GIPS blog, the market for videoconferencing in China is expected to grow at over 16 % this year, and the broadband infrastructure plans in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 should hopefully mean more capacity for advanced IP communications. 

In addition, something that really caught my eye was the quality of the video stream for CBS' live online coverage of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. I recommend checking it out as I think the video is pretty impressive. They are using the Microsoft Silverlight plugin . John Hermansen brings up the topic of the differences in streaming and real-time video and why Microsoft/CBS is able to get such high quality.

The main difference between streaming video and real-time video conferencing is noticed when you start watching a streamed video segment (live or recorded). Continue Reading...

Java Based VoIP

March 18, 2009 12:57 AM
Java offers a great way to build multiplatform applications. However, this is not necessarily true when it comes to complex processing such as VoIP application. 

The first thing that comes to mind is how to create a download free VoIP application using java script. This is unfortunately not possible. The only way to create a download free VoIP app is to use Flash Player or another application that typically has already been downloaded on the computer. 

It is, however, possible to write a complete VoIP application in Java using the Java Media Framework but such a solution will require a download before usage. Continue Reading...

Musings from ITEXPO East

February 10, 2009 4:21 AM

I really enjoyed myself at the ITEXPO last week in Miami. Even though the locals complained about how unusually cold it was, I have a problem complaining when it is 68 degrees and sunny...

At the show, one of the first things that happened was that several people asked me about the Apple patent on video conferencing on the iPhone. At the time I hadn't seen anything about it but after a quick look at the patent it was clear to me that the patent only covers touch screen capabilities.
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Echo control differs from many other audio processing tasks in that it depends on two streams: the farend (audio to be played on the speaker) and the nearend (audio recorded from the microphone). In a hands-free call, the nearend typically contains an echoed version of the farend. In order to identify and remove this echo component from the stream, the signals must be time-aligned in some fashion. It is this need for time-alignment that is at the root of many of the practical difficulties in acoustic echo control (AEC) that are not apparent for other tasks such as noise suppression and coding which operate on only a single stream.

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In his recent GIPS blog posting, John Hermansen astutely commented that companies like Verizon must continue to innovate and provide customers with telecommunication services that offer greater value when compared to what is available today. This is the only way to combat the migration of customers to other providers such as Vonage and Comcast or abandoning of landlines all together. John concludes his blog with "I know I would be much more likely to sign up for FiOS if they offered PC-based video calling, integrated VoIP and TV applications or a combined mobile and home service. Hopefully this is Verizon's strategy, as it will benefit VoIP developers and consumers alike."

On Friday, Verizon took a big step towards gaining John as a customer by bringing a new value-added service to the market with the introduction of the Verizon Hub.
Thumbnail image for VerizonHubH4Web.jpg

Surprisingly, this new option for landline service is coming for a wireless company.

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Today consumers are looking for more pixels- more pixels in digital cameras, more pixels in cell phones and more pixels in webcams. The perception is that more pixels result in better quality. This approach neglects the importance of framerate and response to lighting, which can be more problematic for webcams than camcorders.
Take the typical high-end webcam.  It can capture a 1280*1024 HD video stream at roughly 1.3 Mega pixels per frame.   However, what the manufacturer won't tell you is that the webcam can only capture 7 frames per second, if you are lucky (in my experience it's closer to 5).
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HD Video Conferencing on a Budget

January 15, 2009 9:55 PM
With offices all over the world, we at GIPS use our own video solutions as much as possible for internal meetings. If you have tried the Cisco Telepresence solution, you know that video conferencing can be great. But with the enormous cost to set up such meeting rooms, many of us are still hesitating. Our focus at GIPS is video processing software, but it is important to realize that hardware plays a big role in the end-user experience.
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2009 - The Year of ?

January 7, 2009 4:00 PM
Right around this time every year, many commentators and captains of industry usually announce their predictions for the new year. I do not plan to do that. If I did, it would be like market research: the only thing you know about the predictions is that they are wrong. This is not to say that looking forward (or market research) is useless.
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