Feeds

IBM tries to patent teleconference sound effects

Turn your business calls into wacky morning radio show

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

When hosting a business conference call, there are two easy options for keeping participants interested and alert:

a) making sure the conversation is compelling and informative; or
b) make farting noises at opportune moments.

While tried and true, option b comes with certain drawbacks. For one, the effort could get a gentleman sued by International Business Machines one day, should the method of inserting said flatulence be mechanical.

You see, the folks at TechDirt have uncovered a rather compelling patent application from Big Blue that claims invention of delivering canned sounds over the telephone.

The patent describes a device for "enlivening conference calls" by injecting novelty recorded sounds should the conversation fall into an awkward pause or silent boredom.

"I'm sorry, John was in a terrible accident last night."

"Oh my god..."

...

WOOP WOOP WAKKA WAKKA!!!

The device would use noise detectors to monitor phone lines for pre-determined periods of silence to play audio gags properly on cue. It could also make sounds at the request of participants, or even based on a certain noises associated with a selected individual.

"Depending on the context of the conference call, the participants of the conference call may experience boredom," the application warns. "As a result, the conference call may exhibit a considerable amount of silence or 'dead air' due to the lack of interest from participants. If interjections (e.g., laugh, cheers, or jingles), and the like, could be made during the conference call at times of boredom, the conference call may be enlivened and more interesting for the participants."

The patent application is credited to inventors Travis Grigsby, Steven Michael Miller, and Lisa Anne Seacat, on behalf of IBM. Alas, we were unable to reach the authors to see if the markedly sober company has ever put such a device into practice. (Although this journalist can testify, having been subjected to many-a IBM teleconference call, never once experiencing any effort from the Big Blue to arouse me from the inevitable conversational coma.)

Of course, most technologies described in the patent have been in wide use for decades (laugh tracks, for example). But the supposition that it's used for teleconferences in particular could theoretically give the application a pass. However, the filing notes it seeks "to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the invention" as defined by the claims.

And now we reach the potentially awkward moment of trying to wind down the story…

yes…well…

We probably could use a good sound effect right about now. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things
Grass is greener in Asia, say the sensors
Ofcom sees RISE OF THE MACHINE-to-machine cell comms
Study spots 9% growth in IoT m2m mobile data connections
O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge
No, the spooks love US best, say rival firms
Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM
Networks' main issue: they don't know how it works, says expert
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.