I called Diamondware’s 3-D, stereo VoIP technology a killer application back in 2004 and even featured it on a stage at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo as a killer application. Unfortunately doing a demo of stereo VoIP to a room full of hundreds of people does not do the technology any justice at all.
Over a year ago I wrote about DiamondWare’s technology again and mentioned that the future of VoIP will be 3-D, stereophonic sound. But sometimes it takes time for the latest technologies to actually take hold and become popular.
I had a chance to sit down again recently with Keith Weiner the CEO of DiamondWare and discuss his newest HD software. Well actually I wasn’t sitting near Keith, I was on a conference call with him and his coworkers over his 3D, HD Conference Manager product.
Once on the call I was able to easily position the three callers all around me. One could be directly ahead of me and one on either side. The computer can automatically position participants as well if you so choose.
When everyone was in place, Keith had one coworker start counting from 1 and another reciting the alphabet from letter “A.” While these two participants spoke, Keith proceeded to speak with me and the strangest thing happened. I could focus on anyone I wanted and was able to absorb what all three participants were uttering.
It was an amazing experience and the sound quality was beyond compare. I could hear everything in a conversation and more. A sniffle. Lips moving, etc. I swear I could almost hear eyes blinking.
As Keith explains it, listening to stereophonic conversations of high quality is less fatiguing. He also pokes fun at conventional full duplex technology where two callers can speak simultaneously. His point is that you really can’t understand the people if you do not have a stereophonic connection.
Recently a service provider called Vivox started using DiamondWare’s technology to supply the sound in SecondLife. I have to admit I am a novice at using SecondLife and the one time I installed it, it crashed my computer. But Keith explains well that in SecondLife, you can go away from a group and still hear the rest of the group speaking but from a distance. Once you are far enough away, you can have a clear conversation with no problems.
I was at an industry dinner sponsored by TrollTech recently where a number of journalists and bloggers were in attendance. The dinner was filled with lively discussion and the most memorable comment of the evening came from Eric Lin from phone scoop who said SecondLife is a program for people having sex they wish they had in their first life.
Now I had never met Eric before but suffice it so say, he made quite an impression on the whole table. Eric is not one to hold back and seems to always tell it like it is.
I haven’t seen any research on what percentage of SecondLife conversations are intimate in nature but it is not surprising to see sex as a driver for technology as this is a common theme.
But getting back to business, Keith thinks that as voice quality improves and software such as SecondLife becomes common, we will all cut down on air travel. Keith may be on to something but as our conversation continued, Keith suggested we at TMC start using his technology.
Keith has been asking me to try stereo VoIP at TMC for years and I realized what the problem with adoption of such technology will be. Inertia. You see, we already have our PBX, cell phones and bluetooth headsets for the latter. We occasionally use VoIP software and no one but myself and Tom Keating have stereo headphones with microphones connected to our computers.
To use such a platform, we would all need stereo headphones and we would have to put them on and take them off all the time.
Recently I received a bluetooth stereo headset from Plantronics, the Pulsar 590E. The quality of this lightweight headset is absolutely amazing and it plays MP3 files like a champ via my XV6700 phone.
I would imagine if my computer had a bluetooth stereo profile I would use this wireless headset for both music and telephony. In a perfect world it would have to work with my computer, laptop and cell phone but from a technological standpoint this shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish.
I suppose the point is the headset is the weakest link in this chain of adoption. If we can leverage music and bluetooth to get people wearing headphones, we are likely onto something and we will all soon be enjoying the benefits of hearing more nuanced conversations and potentially sacrificing a frequent flyer mile or two.