The future of VoIP is in how it will enable and integrate with future applications. That is where the excitement is for me. After covering the space for ten years I am happy to see that new applications are beginning to emerge that are enabled by VoIP. It will be interesting to watch the market and see which applications will gain critical mass. Will the large PBX vendors own the VoIP applications market, will it be service providers, application developers or ASPs. The likely scenario is that all of the above will enable sticky applications allowing VoIP to proliferate even more rapidly into our personal and business lives.
A few years back at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo you may have seen DiamondWare featured at Tehrani’s IP Telephony Killer Apps, a live demonstration of the best and brightest in VoIP. This was a few years back now and since then DiamondWare has made some improvements to their platform.
What the software does is enable any sort of communications from chat to voice and from individual conversations to conferences. In a typical scenario a conversation starts with chat and escalates to voice.
When you load the user interface you are presented with a series of conference rooms and you can be signed into a few of them. Each room can correspond to a group f people with similar interests. For example you could belong to the virtual reality working group if you want to keep tabs on what this group is doing.
You can send messages to individuals or groups. Additionally, a person can listen in on conversations and decide to answer if they have something worth saying.
What I love about the software is that it supports stereo and allows you to place individual callers on the right or left, in front or behind. On a conference call this is useful as you can put people from different groups on different sides. You may choose to put managers on the left and everyone else on the right for example. The sound quality is crystal clear and stereo adds a new dimension to conversations. I was sad when I had to go back to a regular headset in fact. There is a very discernable difference when you listen with two ears.
Keith Weiner, the company’s cofounder says that his software allows knowledge velocity or the ability to act immediately on corporate information. This works because you can listen in to numerous conversations and absorb information that may be relevant to what you need to know.
This product exemplifies the concept of voice communities, a topic I have written about before and I believe holds tremendous promise. Using stereo you are able to more easily discern what a person is saying if there are two conversations taking place at a time.
There is also a shared whiteboard making this an even better collaboration platform and presence is built-in. In addition you can set a trigger to have a message delivered based on someone’s presence. This is useful if you want to make sure a person is at their desk to think through what you sent them. You can also set the system to ensure you are available when the message is delivered.
DiamondWare is working on other features like the ability to drag and drop files to and from the interface allowing you to immediately disseminate a document.
In all, I like the DiamondWare interface and I think that stereophonic VoIP calls leave all other telephony in the dust. I always laugh when I speak with someone who says that VoIP quality is not as good as the PSTN. VoIP allows things like 3D calling with stereo and soon we will likely have surround sound on our conversations (perhaps this is overkill but then again so is being able to carry thousands of songs in your pocket). In the end it is the applications that will make the money in VoIP. And DiamondWare has produced one great application.