Computer/telephone integration: Why don't we expect more?

SpiderPhone I'm always on the lookout for innovative CTI (computer/telephone integration) tricks that work with our existing hybrid infrastructure. Sure, VoIP's right around the corner, but it's been right around the corner for a long time. Meanwhile, the humble business conference call remains a comedy of errors. One solution that recently impressed me is SpiderPhone.

The screenshot depicts a three-way call. The connection between the voice call and this Web application is the really cute trick.
SpiderPhone: Joining a call
Joining a call
I'm the only one of the three participants so connected, and I lied about my name to see if the system would notice (it didn't), but here's how it works. Once you're dialed into a call, you visit the Website and click the Join a call link. After you declare your identity for the call, the application generates a 4-digit number and invites you to press * on your phone and enter the number. Now the Web app and the phone call are connected. Slick!

Monitoring the call in your browser, you can see the names (or numbers) of the speakers flickering in the "Talker:" field. Basic screensharing is available, and Web participants can whisper ("Psst") to one another in a chat window -- though I didn't get to try these features, being the only Web participant on the call. As the first screen shows, I did switch recording on and off, then on again. I record a lot of telephone interviews, so this feature really piqued my interest. As it turns out, though you can't just download your recording. You pay dial-in charges to listen by phone ($0.19/min for the 212 number, $0.24/min for the toll-free number) or through the Web ($0.10/min). So I'll stick with my local phone tap for now.

Still, SpiderPhone is a really clever piece of work. I love it when the phone network and the computer network cooperate in unexpected ways. Of course, the fact that we don't generally expect this kind of thing is puzzling. You'd think the absence of points of contact between our two major instruments of communication would raise more eyebrows than it does.

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