Deep in Thought

Here’s some brain fodder. It’s a project that includes a WiFi/Bluetooth network that lets you send MMS messages for free from one phone to another on the same system.

It made me think a bit more about phone networks, and why we’re not apparantly using Internet-based telephony as much as we could. It has obvious appeal: much cheaper (even free?) calls to friends anywhere in the world; high quality over broadband.

The reason I don’t use it? It’s not as comfortable talking via a computer & speaker/mike than it is just picking up a phone and dialling. It’s about familiarity – I don’t believe the average Joe is comfortable rigging up their PC for this sort of thing.

So, a solution? I’m sure there must be something out there. A USB phone handset or one that plugs into speaker+mike on the soundcard. There are headsets but again, unless you’re comfortable with them they just don’t fit the bill.

There’s also the awkward problem of keeping track of who has and who hasn’t got similar capabilities, which leads me on to my proposal:

What if one were to develop a ‘normal’ phone, with keypad, etc. and familiar handset. That phone is plugged into your computer, which is in turn connected to the ‘net and has a modem.

You dial a number on your phone. The keypresses go straight to some software on the computer which then goes online and looks up in a database that number, to see if it exists.

If it does, the connection is made over IP to the other person’s computer, which makes their phone ring, etc. The cost is probably free, or at worst very cheap!

If it doesn’t exist in the database, the software uses the modem to dial as normal via traditional phone lines.

Anyway that’s my proposal. If it’s been done already I haven’t seen it.

Thoughts? Comments? As always, welcome!