Cleaning Products – No, It’s Web 2.0 Technologies

Martin Taylor, Vice President of Product Management and Technology for MetaSwitch, gave an excellent overview of XML and its ascent as the standard for machine-to-machine interface in the telephony world. XML allows for a mash-up of applications, such as the obligatory caller ID on television. Combining XML data with Asynchronous JavaScript is AJAX, which allows updating of a web page without the user having to do a manual refresh.        

Robert Cooper of Aastra followed up Taylor’s presentation with applications of how their customers are feeding XML data from Soft Switches or the Internet (e.g. think a CNN news feed directly to the phone) to LCD displays on the Aastra telephones.  Aastra’s Software Development Kit is available at no charge, so it is easy for developers to create their own applications. Cooper gave an example of how a visual voicemail application took only 4 hours to develop. 

A school system in Texas uses Aastra phones as an alternative to paper and/or computers for determining attendance. The teacher uses the LCD screen and the phone’s buttons to record which students are in class. An XML feed, sent from the phone to the IP PBX, triggers an automatic action within the PBX to call the parents to confirm that the children are home and not skipping school. A software-defined, panic button is another feature of this particular phone

One of the more interesting applications that Cooper spoke of was the use of SIP over DECT 6.0 phones. Cooper said the DECT protocol is less prone to interference than VoIP over WiFi. With SIP, it is possible to deliver the same text applications to wireless phones as one could get using a desktop PBX. I wonder if there is a way that a spectrum-starved independent telco could use the combination of SIP and DECT 6.0 to create a robust, community wide and feature-rich, cordless telephone service (it looks like Aastra could support up to 512 handsets per PBX, so it might have to be a small service area)?

“The unmanaged network is where it gets interesting,” said Michael Branch of Minerva Networks. He said this in the context of a telco operator bringing content from the Internet to the television. He suggested that an XML widget could remap specific Internet content (e.g. a photostream from Flickr) to the television. Matt Cuson of Minerva Networks alluded to this kind of widget integration last September in a panel in San Jose, so it wasn’t a big surprise to hear this approach from this middleware provider. 

XML also allows, as Branch put it, “guided viewing,” whereby a trigger on either an event (e.g. a pop-up window that links to iTunes so a person can order a song that is playing in the video program he is watching) or an action by the user could determine the content being displayed (e.g. a request for more information). Of course, XML is also useful for displaying traditional managed video information (e.g. VOD titles), as well as telephony meta-data (e.g. caller ID on the TV). 

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