Voice Bridge by Swissvoice

Voice BridgeDoes your business require a landline number but you want the convenience of a mobile phone, well Swissvoice may have a solution for you.  Swissvoice is showing off the Voice Bridge at CES 2014. SwissVoice’s Voice Bridge links traditional land line telephones and mobile device. It allows you to carry on a call that comes in on your landline phone on your mobile device both smartphones and tablets. Now you can tell who is calling you on your DECT-phone . You can use your mobile device as a walkie talk for communication within a building at no additional cost. Employees can be added to conference calls by simply tapping on the app on their mobile device

The Voice Box is a small box like device which connects directly to any router and has an easy plug and play installation. Then you install the app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device and you are ready to go. You can assign a fixed line to up to five smart phones and tablet at one time. Perfect for a small office, allowing multiple employees to use one landline number, while having the convenience of using their mobile phone.

The Voice Bridge will be available in the U.S, South America and Europe during March or April 2014 for $79 USD or 79 euro. Swissvoice will be at Booth 31417 in the South Hall during CES 2014.

UrbanHello Home Phone

Urban Hello Home Phone

It’s not often that technology is so new that it’s only a few hours old but in this interview, Andy McCaskey chats to UrbanHello about their Kickstarter launch for their Home Phone.

The Home Phone is a DECT-based cordless speakerphone designed for family group conversations where everyone can take part. The 360 degree HD speaker produces great natural sound and not only is the Home Phone functional, it looks modern and stylish. The coloured part at the bottom of the phone comes in a range of interchangeable colours to either match or contrast the interior decor.

Don’t take my word for it, the Home Phone took Design and Engineering Honors at CES 2013 and it’s 27% funded with about ten days to go.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News for the TechPodcast Network.

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Hearing Loss Help From ClearSounds

ClearSounds LogoSurprisingly, one in five Americans over the age of 12 has hearing loss severe enough to affect communication and in over a third of the cases, the loss is from noise exposure, not age. ClearSounds produces a range of stylish products that help people overcome their hearing loss and communicate again. Andy and Courtney talk to company president, Michele Alman of ClearSounds.

Suffering from a hearing loss is less about the physical impairment and more about the isolation and withdrawal that occurs when it becomes difficult to hear what’s going on. The problem doesn’t only affect the afflicted; friends and family stop calling and phoning because it’s simply too hard to have a conversation. In turn, the lack of contact leads people into depression.

ClearSounds have a range of products aimed at remedying everyday situations – people with hearing loss want to use cool tech too. The ClearSounds i700 iCreations Phone is combination landline and iPhone dock. The enhanced handset combines a DECT cordless phone with a Bluetooth receiver so only one handset is needed to take both landline and mobile phone calls.

For watching TV, the ClearBlue Bluetooth TV/Audio Listening System is a Bluetooth transmitter and headphones receiver. Rather than turning the TV volume up until it rocks the house, the headphones let the individual set the volume just right for them.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Second Line App for Smartphones from Line2

Line2 PhoneIf you’ve ever wanted a second line on your smartphone but don’t have a dual SIM phone (and let’s be honest, who does?), you’ll be interested in this app from Line2. Andy and Don get a demo from Peter on what the app offers.

The Line2 app provides a second line by using a VoIP connection over 3G or wi-fi. All the features of a telephony service are present with a phone number, voicemail, text messaging, call-forwarding and so on. There’s also HD audio if you are calling another Line2 user.

Being a data service and able to use wi-fi means that it’s possible to send and receive calls where there’s no mobile phone signal but there is a wireless connection. SIM-less devices such as iPod Touches or wi-fi-only tablets can become phones too.

Available for both iPhone and Android, monthly subscriptions start at $9.95 a month.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net, and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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The Master Switch

Once in a while, a book comes along that contains ground-breaking insights.  Such is the case with a book I’ve listened to over the past couple of days, the Audible audio book version of ‘The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” by author Tim Wu.

“The Master Switch” is a compelling look into the history of major information industries such as the telegraph, the telephone, commercial broadcast radio, the commercial movie business, and commercial broadcast television. The book points out an identifiable, slowly-repeating cycle obviated by the fact that these industries were able to gain and hold monopoly status. Each in turn became quite adept at retarding disruptive technological innovations that threatened their respective business models.

Today we take an open Internet for granted, but these same and other forces are looking to take over control of the Internet and turn it into a closed, much more tightly-controlled system.

The book is extremely well written and well researched. The Audible audio book narrator Marc Vietor brings the book to life in a wonderful way.

Mr. Wu does a fantastic job of laying out the often-fascinating histories of companies such as Western Union, AT&T, NBC, etc. As consumers, we think we know these companies through their consumer advertising. The real history of these companies is often quite different and very eye opening.

If you enjoy stories about technology and business, you will almost certainly enjoy “The Master Switch” by Tim Wu.

Calling With Style

This week’s unofficial style and design award goes to Native Union and their beautiful Moshi Moshi range of handsets for mobile phones, USB VoIP and Bluetooth.

There’s four in the range, the first three created by designer David Turpin and the last by Michael Young.   They’re a stylish mix of retro and modern and I think they’re reasonably priced for a well-designed item.   I’m tempted to get the Bluetooth handset (MM03) myself.

Two of them have 3.5mm jacks and two are Bluetooth.  A range of adaptors are also available from the web site, including one for converting to USB for Skype, GoogleTalk and so on.

Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite but the website has full photo galleries.

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And if you are wondering what “Moshi Moshi” is, it’s what Japanese people say when they answer the phone.  You can read about the myth behind this phrase over on WikiAnswers.

Hawaii Internet Slow Down could last a Month or More!

Late last night a Fiber Optic cable between two islands was cut here in Hawaii that is causing massive disruption for users of  Time Warner Road Runner Internet service.  Road Runner did not have in place any redundant back haul, and customers statewide were without Internet service for many hours. When the service did come back on-line it is throttled to speeds that rival dial up days as you can see by the speed test I ran.

A very informed GNC reader told me tonight that they are in mass panic, because they are going to be hard pressed to keep services online at a level of service that customers demand and it could be a month or more before the fiber is fixed and service is fully restored to a level that is considered acceptable. He recommended I call other providers immediately, as their is going to a run on other service providers to get connected to something that resembles something other than dial up speeds.

The first question I am asking is how come Oceanic / Road Runner did not have a backup plan. If a single fiber optic line being damaged was enough to bring down the states internet infrastructure there is some gross negligence by Road Runner management here in Hawaii in my opinion, and someone should be held to account for this lack of basic planning.

This should not come as a surprise because basic bandwidth speeds have not increased here significantly in many years. We have waited and waited for promised increased speeds and it has never happened. This incident makes it very obvious that they do not have the infrastructure in place to handle increased speeds. If one fiber cable is damaged resulting in this massive decrease in available service it is obvious that they have not been investing in infrastructure . This should be a wake up call to Oceanic.

Wait times to talk to customer service representatives were endless. While the cutting of a Fiber optic line is bad, they should have realized we live in Hawaii and our nearest neighbor is 2500 miles away.  This slow down is going to cost Hawaii business owners literally 100’s of thousands of dollars.

I encourage Hawaii Road Runner customers to keep the heat on Oceanic / Time Warner. I do not feel sorry for them, they should have considered this as a possibility before, and had the back haul in place to keep us connected at acceptable speeds.

The Tech of Social Networking

The Tech of Social NetworkingModern Internet-based social networking seems like a relatively recent phenomena. Yet, its roots can be traced back to basic human behavior.

Early humans organized themselves into social tribes. As technical knowledge and know-how got better, and written communication emerged, human social interaction also became more sophisticated. The printing press and postal systems supplemented the local tavern and other forms of in-person socialization.  This was the beginning of a more sophisticated type of companionship. These early technologies marked the beginning stages of releasing the bonds of people only being able to interact, conduct business, and socialize with those they could be physically present with.

The telegraph machine could be looked upon as an early form of text messaging. People could conduct business at a distance, as well as send short personal notes to friends or family across great distances.

Then Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Early telephones were not that easy to use compared to what they evolved into, but they did mark a turning point that would profoundly change human interaction and ultimately cause the acquisition of knowledge to accelerate. The wired telephone enabled new, more efficient forms of social networking and interaction. It was a business device, yet it was also a pleasure device, that enabled people to socialize in much more sophisticated ways.

In the later decades of the 20th century, phone lines began to be used for more than simply voice communications. “POTS” or “plain old telephone lines” initially enabled the early stages of Internet growth. Looking back, those early websites had a social networking component built in all along. Business and pleasure were the driving forces.

The Internet quickly became much more sophisticated. High-speed Internet access and ever-cheaper data storage converged, leading to yet another turning point, enabling technologies such as podcasting, the reliable delivery of audio and video, etc. Social interaction among people was profoundly affected yet again.

The proliferation of the modern cell phone was another turning point that developed in parallel with the proliferation of the Internet. Being able to carry around a phone in one’s pocket was a terrific convenience, and has enabled profound efficiencies in the ways people interact. Since most of us alive today lived through that profound change, we cannot fully see what a significant turning point it is, or fully know how the efficiency will impact future generations.

Today we are living through yet another profound change – a type of convergence. The cell phone is morphing into the super smart phone that puts the Internet right in our pockets. Business and pleasure are still right there, driving the need for interaction.

In a way it’s fitting that these nifty, Internet-enabled, touch screen pocket computers many of us now carry around with us everywhere we go also happen to function as telephones.

Microsoft Requires Oral Activation of Windows

Starting today, many users of new, unregistered copies of Microsoft Windows will have to make a phone call in order to activate the software’s license. In a move to curb piracy of its flagship operating system, Microsoft has disabled the Internet activation alternative, now requiring these users to orally confirm their use of the product.

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