Posts in Voice

Voice is the future

January 5th, 2018 Posted by Voice

Intelligent Services will not only learn to talk with us, but also to recognise emotion so they can truly engage with our lives.

For years we have interacted with machines by touch – using a keyboard, screen or mouse. But this is not the natural way for humans to communicate. As humans, we prefer voice. In 2018, we’ll see more machines communicate the way humans do, with the potential for technology to become more ingrained into our lives than ever.

We’re at the beginning of a voice-fuelled technology transformation where new types of devices and services, such as the Echo and Alexa, allow us to communicate more naturally. They are being embedded into everything from cars to home automation services to the factory floor.

Ford, for example, has integrated Alexa into its vehicles, allowing its customers to engage in a more intuitive way with its cars. Drivers can speak to their car and ask it to play their favourite audiobooks. They can do their shopping and get directions. They can connect to all sorts of services outside of the vehicle, being able to manipulate lights and doors in their smart home. From home, customers can communicate with their car by remote starting, locking or unlocking doors and obtaining vehicle information.

At AstraZeneca, Alexa is being used by manufacturing teams to ask about standard operating procedures and to find out what to do next. At Nasa, rather than rearranging a conference room for different mission meetings, they speak to Alexa and the building does the rest. For many, voice computing is already here, and the potential is limitless.

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The International Rice Research Institute, just outside Manila in the Philippines, has built a digital system to help farmers find the right amount of fertiliser to apply to their land at a particular time. To increase engagement, they opted for a natural interface for the farmers, building it as a voice-based system in the cloud. Farmers simply take the village phone, call the service, select from a variety of dialects and describe the patch of land. The service, using machine learning, provides advice on the amount of fertiliser they need to use and when they should plant their crops.

UK-based Inhealthcare is another voice example. One of its core tools is using automated telephony as a communication channel to deploy digital health services at scale. For many older people, the telephone is a piece of technology they are comfortable and confident using, and nearly everyone can access it, even if they don’t have access to the internet or a smartphone. Using Amazon Polly, Inhealthcare can deliver medication reminders, health advice and help with treatment. A phone call could last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes depending on the complexity of its nature, but with the low latency they can achieve, patients can have a natural conversation, meaning they feel comfortable with the advice they receive and don’t hang up.

Are you integrating voice in to your digital strategy and the way you work?

UK mobile coverage winners revealed in study

July 28th, 2017 Posted by Voice
mobile_coverageThe provider of best mobile coverage in the UK is influenced by geography as well as the operator, a study suggests.

No one provider dominated, with EE coming out best in England, Vodafone the overall winner in Northern Ireland and Three in Scotland and Wales.

The study, from mobile network performance firm RootMetrics, also suggests that England has the highest amount of 4G while Wales trails behind.

Operators will bid for fresh spectrum for faster services later this year.

“These latest results have really shaken things up and show the increasing competitiveness in the UK, particularly over the last six months,” said Scott Stonham, general manager of Europe for RootMetrics.

“EE continues to lead the way, but Three and Vodafone are close behind. What is clear is that each operator showed strong performance in at least one particular country, while nobody was able to sweep the board at the four-nations level.

“UK consumers have strong mobile options depending on how and where they use their devices most,” he added.

The report assessed availability of 4G services across the UK, examining six categories, including network reliability, network speed and data performance.

  • England – EE (91%), Vodafone (83%), O2 (82%), Three (69%)
  • Northern Ireland – EE (90%), O2 (83%), Vodafone (80%), Three (61%)
  • Scotland – EE (83%), O2 (80%), Vodafone (76%), Three (59%)
  • Wales – EE (79%), Vodafone (60%), O2 (60%), Three (54%)

In the UK’s 16 largest cities, EE received the highest scores in all categories. It was also judged the UK’s overall best-performing network, go visit learnacademy.org website to know more about the networking.

Three won the award for reliability.

Ian Fogg, an analyst at research firm IHS Markit said: “To succeed, mobile operators must balance the amount of spectrum they own with how they manage their networks.”

Merger distraction

O2, which did not win in any category may have been hampered by its planned merger with Three, which was blocked.

“It may have been a distraction which meant things like discussions around network planning were put off,” he said.

“Added to that, O2’s challenge is that it has less spectrum than some of its competitors but a large customer base.”

In response the company said: “We spend over £2 million every day improving network service and expanding coverage”, adding “different network surveys produce different results”.

Although 5G is still some years away from commercial availability, Ofcom is due to auction 3.4GHz spectrum in October, which will be used for the next generation of mobile networks.

The regulator has capped the amount of spectrum each operator can bid for. EE is not allowed to bid in the 2.3GHz category, which will be auctioned at the same time and can be used to enhance 4G.

EE currently has around 45% of the UK’s usable spectrum, following its acquisition by BT, which bid for spectrum in 2013 even though it did not have a mobile division at the time.

Further auctions of spectrum suitable for 5G are expected in 2019.

The timeframe for the auctions could be delayed because of legal challenges from Three.

Phone boxes across the UK are being turned into free 1Gbps Wi-Fi hotspots and charging stations

July 4th, 2017 Posted by Subjects, Voice

Abandoned phone boxes scattered around London and other major UK cities are being transformed into Wi-Fi hotspots offering free calls and digital services.

BT has partnered with Intersection and Primesight to launch LinkUK, following the launch of LinkNYC in New York in January 2016. As part of the scheme, existing phone boxes are being turned into “sleek, ultramodern kiosks” – called InLinks – across the capital and new kiosks are being installed in areas where phone boxes have been removed.

“Hundreds of users within range of a Link will be able to access free ultrafast Wi-Fi on the move, with speeds of up to 1Gbps – the fastest free public Wi-Fi service available,” said BT.

InLink kiosks also offer premium calls to both landlines and mobiles, charging points, access to maps, directions and local services. These services will be paid for by advertisers, being led by Primesight.

Elsewhere, InLinks have sensors that capture real-time data about the local environment, including air and noise pollution, temperature and traffic and 55-inch (139.7cm) high-definition displays for public service announcements and “neighbourhood advertising”.

However, despite the promise InLink kiosks bring, the launch in New York raised some concerns. Browsers on the New York Link kiosks had to be disabled after people would “linger for hours, sometimes drinking and doing drugs and, at times, boldly watching pornography on the sidewalks,” reported the New York Times.

Intersection told WIRED that it learnt a lot from this beta period in New York and, as a result, InLink tablets in the UK will not include web browsers meaning there won’t be the opportunity for people to monopolise the kiosks.

Long live the Nokia brick!

February 17th, 2017 Posted by News, Voice

Nokia 3310, ‘the most reliable phone ever made’, to be re-launched at MWC 2017

The phone was first released in 2000 and some are still going strong.

The phone, originally released in 2000 and in many ways beginning the modern age of mobiles, will be sold as a way of getting lots of battery life in a nearly indestructible body.

The new incarnation of the old 3310 will be sold for just €59, and so likely be pitched as a reliable second phone to people who fondly remember it the first time around. It will be revealed at Mobile World Congress later this month.

It’s still possible to buy the 3310 on Amazon, though only through its marketplace and not directly from the company itself. The Amazon listing describes a range of features, including a clock, calculator, the ability to store up to ten reminders and four games: Snake II, Pairs II, Space Impact, and Bantumi.

Snake was so well-loved that it’s currently available for iPhone, Android and Windows phone users to download.

That collection of features has led to it being branded as being perhaps the most resilient and long-lasting phone ever made.

Nokia struggled to bring its brand into the smartphone era and ended up being sold to Microsoft. Phones made under the Nokia brand are now sold by HMD Global, a Finnish company that bought the rights to the name. HMD will reveal other new mobiles – the Nokia 3, 5 and 6 – at the same MWC event.

Privacy

How much do you value your privacy?

January 16th, 2017 Posted by Subjects, Voice

I’ve got nothing to hide, so why should I care?

This argument is commonly used in discussions regarding privacy. Colin J. Bennett, author of The Privacy Advocates, said that most people “go through their daily lives believing that surveillance processes are not directed at them, but at the miscreants and wrongdoers” and that “the dominant orientation is that mechanisms of surveillance are directed at others” despite “evidence that the monitoring of individual behaviour has become routine and everyday“.

 

Most of us do value our own personal security/privacy more than we think. “Imagine upon exiting your house one day you find a person searching through your wheelie bin painstakingly putting the shredded notes and documents back together. In response to your stunned silence they proclaim ‘you don’t have anything to worry about – there is no reason to hide, is there?”.

Of course, most likely you don’t have anything suspicious to hide, but do you really want them looking at your bank statement, seeing receipts for things you’ve bought, letters from your children’s school…even the number of wine bottles in your recycling might be embarrassing?!

Your technological life is no different – you might not be breaking state secrets online, but would you want someone reading your private texts or messages? The heartfelt message to a loved one, an angry text to a friend, something mean said on the spur of the moment? It is essentially the same as your offline life.

Have you considered encryption?

Unless you are very tech-savvy, the likelihood is you haven’t. Luckily, there are some very forward-thinking people and companies out there trying to make encryption the norm. The following apps are all downloadable free of charge.

  • Signal – is an encrypted instant messaging and voice calling application for Android and iOS. It uses the Internet to send one-to-one and group messages, which can include images and video messages, and make one-to-one voice calls.

 

  • ChatSecure – The app uses open-source, publicly auditable encryption libraries to keep your private business messages private. It’s really flexible, letting you choose between connecting via your existing Google account, or creating a new account on a public XMPP server. Users who want even stronger security can connect to ChatSecure from their own private server. And unlike with many rival apps, ChatSecure doesn’t require your phone number of any other personal data to get started.

 

  • Gliph is a secure messaging service that you can use on all of your computing devices. When you’re on the go, use the iOS or Android app on your smartphone. When you’re at the office, use the Gliph desktop app so you can send and receive messages using a mouse and keyboard. Another key feature is “Real Delete,” which lets you permanently delete a message from both the sending and receiving device, as well as the Gliph server, whenever you choose. You can also attach a pseudonym to your main account at any time, so you can use a screen name for personal chatting and switch back to your real name for professional communications.

 

  • Wickr is a secure messaging app that lets you set an “expiration date” for every message you send; just select a date and time for your media to expire, and it will automatically be deleted at that time. That way, you don’t have to worry about a third party inadvertently reading private communications that are left on a contact’s smartphone. Meanwhile, the app features end-to-end encryption for all messages, and it lets you remove metadata from individual messages, such as the time it was sent, as well as geo-location data. Another handy feature gives you the ability to completely clear away message files that have been manually deleted but still reside on your smartphone’s memory. Wickr also has standard messaging features, like the ability to chat with groups of up to 10 people at once.

 

 

 

Synergy from Timico

Calling all members of the team – Nuvia from GENBAND

October 26th, 2016 Posted by Subjects, Tech Talk, Uncategorized, Voice

We like to practise what we preach, and for months we’ve been telling our customers all about brilliant new Hosted VoIP technology. We think it’s so good we are installing it as our own Microcomms telephony system.

Nuvia from GENBAND

So, why Nuvia?

The cost and service flexibility advantages of cloud-based telephony over traditional systems are significant. Powered by leading industry provider GenbandNuvia guarantees secure and reliable telephony, enhanced with powerful multimedia collaboration features.

As Nuvia is a cloud-based solution, you don’t have the worries of a physical system on site. A monthly subscription fee replaces the maintenance and upgrade costs you would incur with a traditional system. Call costs are low, and adding capacity as your business grows is incredibly simple – with no additional hardware costs.

The benefits we love:

Nuvia from GENBAND

  • Visual Voicemail
  • Desktop Client
  • Mobile App
  • Video Calling
  • Audio Conferencing
  • Hot Desking capabilities

For our business, we are a team who are often out and about – we need to be able to stay connected on the move and be able to make and receive calls anywhere, any desk, any time. Nuvia gives us the ability to take a single number and assign it to an individual person. The number travels with them from their mobile, to their desktop, to a desk phone ensuring connectivity everywhere they go.

Microcomms recognise that every company is different – what is right for us may not be right for you. That is why all telephony solutions we recommend are tailor-made to your requirements. We aren’t affiliated to one particular provider or service, and certainly don’t try and squeeze a square peg into a round hole. We like to start with what you need and go from there, working with you all the way.

To find out more about all the telephony options available please get in touch with Hal Jenkinson, our Director of Telecom Services – 01209 843636 / 07792 661872.

 

Telephony

May 5th, 2016 Posted by Voice

Microcomms provide a wide range of Telephony and Voice solutions utilising analogue, digital, VOIP and SIP technologies. Solutions covered include both on premise and hosted telephone systems, call centres, call logging, call recording and Unified Communication for Video Chat, Presence, Conferencing, Instant Messaging, Screen Sharing & File Transfer.

Unified Communications

March 10th, 2016 Posted by Voice

Collaboration is a key requirement of businesses, enabling the workforce to stay connected with colleagues and customers alike.  We provide voice, video, presence, instant messaging and screen sharing solutions from any device.  We can implement a unified comms strategy, including IP and hosted telephony, line and calls.  Click ‘more’ to view our case studies.