Feeds

IBM tries to patent teleconference sound effects

Turn your business calls into wacky morning radio show

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.