Dean, who is Site Admin for the U.K.-based VOIP User forum, proposes an absolutely spot-on scenario for how Google Talk could work with, say, the Wi-Fi network Google hopes to build in San Francisco.
I've expanded on that scenario with some research and thoughts of my own. Let's go there.
Dean's scenario involves a revival of Google Voice, a former 2002-vintage, Google Labs project that seems to have disappeared for now. Yet although the coder whitecoats at Google have gone on to other priorities, the old- albeit defanged- Google Voice page is still up. Here's the link.
When we check out that page, we can tell that as originally envisioned, Google Voice was going to be phone-based. Not VoIP phone based, but traditional-phone based. It would have worked as some sort of a cross between voice-recognition and audiotex (remember that?). As "recently" as 1998, audiotex's defenders were still backing the phone-based, PC-less technology as a way for consumers to retrieve info.
Back to Google Voice.
On the defanged Google Voice page we read the following basics:
1. Pick up the phone and call the automated voice search system at (650) 623-6706.
2. After the prompt Say your Search Keywords, say your query to the system.
3. Click this link and a new window will open with your voice search results.
4. Say another query, and the new window with the search results will be updated with the new results.
The page gives an address where testers could discuss the demo. Here.
I went there and the last two posts dated back to March, 2004. They were made by two successive posters who said they tried the test number but the phone just kept on ringing.
No small wonder, because on that page, Google themselves articulated goals with a degree of humility and even sheeplessness we don't expect out of the brand:
"The system has very limited capacity. Please don't use it for long stretches at a time, and give others a chance to try it."
OK, it is now October 2005. Nineteen months on. I will dial the number. It's getting late, but because I am a blogger and a journalist on a mission of truth I will take the heat of possibly dialing a wrong number and waking someone up. Oh goodness, "I hope I don't wake up a 91-year-old widow in Mountain View," I say to myself..
Bear with me while I try the number:
OK, 10 times: "ring, ring, ring..."
So, 19 months on and nothing has changed.
But what if, say, under NDA and cloistered deep in the Googleplex (Google HQ) away from public view, Google Voice's voice recognition technology is being revived to work within, let's say, a Google Talk-enabled Google Wi-Fi network. Like maybe the one they hope to build in that city by the bay.
Here's what Dean says:
"Let's say that Google combine(s) that with Google Talk - so you can call in to the Voice recognition engine at Google and get search results over VoIP.
"With me so far? Take it a step further. If you have a WiFi network that's open-access, you can actually serve your callers with sponsored search results geotargeted exactly to your location.
"So if I'm hungry in San Francisco, I pick up my Wifi enabled mobile handset, connecting via Google Talk on their Wifi link up to Google Voice and say "Chinese Restaurants".
"Google then responds with a list of ad-paying Chinese restaurants local to me based on where I was at that moment, dicated by which access point I had connected to. "
The more I think about this, the more I think you know what? I definitely see how this could work.
Do you? TalkBack!