Some of you in our audience may remember the experience of having an answering machine hooked up to your home landline. (Yes, people used to have phones installed in their homes…) When someone would call, you could let the answering machine pick up and then listen in and decide if you wanted to “pick up” the call. A patent Apple just received may allow you to do that with your iPhone’s voicemail.
Likely an assignment from the Rockstar consortium purchase of a Nortel patent cache, Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,666,034 for “Audio call screening for hosted voicemail systems” could potentially bring a staple landline technology to cellphones.
A consortium of tech companies, which included Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research in Motion and Sony, and dubbed as “Rockstar” made a successful 2011 $4.5 billion bid for more than 6,000 Nortel patents. Apple reportedly footed the majority of the tab, paying some $2.6 billion.
Apple’s new patent deals with hosted voicemail services, such as those provided by cellular phone service providers.
Incoming calls would be routed to a hosted voicemail service if the intended recipient doesn’t answer. As the caller is leaving a recorded message, a conference call type of connection would be established between the caller, the voicemail service, and the intended recipient, allowing the user to listen in on the message.
On the receiving end, the user’s iPhone would open only the speaker for purposes of monitoring, leaving the microphone on the device muted.
While monitoring the message, the intended recipient can either let the caller complete their message, or interrupt in order to initiate a conversation with the caller.
In theory, the idea could be used on modern cell networks, and even on services such as FaceTime Audio.
The patent was first filed for in 2003, and credits Samuel H. Christie as the inventor.