vGoogle - voice crossing over into the net
13 years ago, in a paper featuring a "spherical support analyst", I talked about the information we all lost in p2p voice conversation, all the bits we'd need to store, etc. It was astonishing how much information we lose on a daily basis.
It turned out that the value of the stored conversations, particularly by those engaged in problem solving - support people, lawyers, doctors, engineers particularly - was calculable.
The specific case I took on was in tech support: On average - We had 70 support engineers taking 20 calls each per week, spending over five hours on the phone per day, solving roughly 40% of the problems with an internal document, and writing an average of 1 new internal document per month... that meant that ~800 hours a week worth of problem solving - the hard stuff - was going uncaptured, unrecorded, undocumented. A tremendous amount of information lossage! And it was/has been accepted as normal - that calls "are only recorded for quality control purposes" - not for feeding back into a searchable, indexed database of problems and solutions...
(I note that the documentation problem has been solved today in another way - all the free information accessed via google written by smart netizens far outweighs what any company can do nowadays with a proprietary database) - but the issue remains - thousands of hours of useful conversations are being lost, every day, in every business. Even if 90% is crap, that last 10% would be a corporate IQ enhancer on par with google itself.
I've been recording conversations, on and off, ever since I wrote that. I've had some fun with the idea - (why have a conversation with someone in your house when you can have it just inside the taj mahal, on a light rainy day, with some elegant music playing in the backgroun?), but was never inspired to try productizing the various technologies.
A couple years ago I realized that it was now possible to actually record and index *everything* I said over the phone, and started working on making asterisk do that
I tried to explain it to people then, calling things like "vgoogle" and "voogle", trying to explain the hidden value in making voice recorded - and searchable - and met, generally with a blank look - or the over-enthusiastic leap to thinking we could go direct voice-to-text (The principal barrier to that is that speaker independent voice recognition still hasn't materialized - and voice recognition in a large domain still requires very powerful computers)
But... if you could have software that could just recognise a few key words and phrases accurately - and index their places in the call - or if you had a service that could transcribe, using human resources, cheaply - the value of the recording goes up. An hour of transcription costs about 60 bucks in India...
Last year I came up with a few markets where I thought the technology would be useful, and settled on conference transcription as being the first market that made real sense, and called the prototype service "transconf"
. But I ran out of money, and time, and I gave up, rationalizing that "It's not something I have to do". "It's an idea that obvious once you think about it long enough", and I knew that some company out there would get the idea, eventually, and make a killing. I thought of Heinlein, and the water bed...
Then podcasting happened
, and we started seeing a need for devices that had this sort of indexing
And about 6 months ago, conference providers started providing recording services
... and I felt that it would only be a few more months before some service started to get the idea that recording and indexing conversations would be a big market.
Today, Now google is getting into voip
. The techniques and utility of bridging the voice world into the data world are going to become obvious, real soon now, and it's going to become a multi-billion dollar market.
I'm a little grumpy. I wish I'd been smart enough to patent something in this field all those years ago... Anybody wanna hire a visionary