Last post about Broadband World Forum Infovision Awards, we promise! As part of the awards process, Dial2Do CTO (Sean O Sullivan), did an interview with the Informa folks, and here it is.
Could you briefly describe what the product/service does?
The HandsFreeAssistant from Dial2Do is a phone service that targets drivers who would like to get more done, safely, while driving. From a consumer perspective, the service is simple: dial a local number, and speak to get things done.
Say “Text” to send a text message, “Email” to send an email, “listen to email” to hear your email, and so on. There are over forty services in Dial2Do, including twitter, reminders, google calendar, remember the milk, and more. Users love the fact that it lets them safely get more from their time in the car.
Behind the scenes of course, Dial2Do offers a voice platform that enables partners to rapidly voice-enable whatever they want – in effect to offer “voice as a service”. Our initial focus has been to partner with the manufacturers of Bluetooth / Handsfree hardware: Bluetooth headsets and car kits. They bundle the service directly with the hardware and offer the end user a fully “joined up” experience – out of the box.
To date, Dial2Do has announced partnerships with many of the world’s leading handsfree equipment brands, including Plantronics, Aliph/Jawbone, Jabra, EnusTech, and others. We’re also voice-enabling fantastic online services such as Evernote, enabling them to rapidly offer voice interaction to their 3M+ users. The platform is hosted, multilingual and extensible – so partners can choose the set of services they wish to offer, the branding and style they wish to use, and even the voice style and interface for user interactions.
What wider market trends do you hope to address with this product/service?
There are a few trends that are driving demand for the service.
- Lots of people spending lots of time in the car: in many countries, including the US where we launched Dial2Do, there are a lot of people who commute regularly for 30-60 minutes per day, and would like to get more from their “driving time” than talk radio and phone calls.
- Speech with everything: it’s becoming more common to see speech used as a core interface with many things, from iPod Nano’s to cars. People are more open to the idea of talking to your favourite web service now to get things done, whether it’s productivity stuff like email, calendars and reminders, or “fun” stuff like listening to twitter or your favourite news feeds as you drive.
- Handsfree legislation: we’re seeing legislation roll out worldwide making it illegal to text or hold a phone while driving. As consumers go looking for handsfree solutions that enable them to comply with the new laws, they are looking for “value add. The HandsFreeAssistant from Dial2Do addresses a burgeoning consumer need to stay safely in touch with your favourite services while driving.
- Everyone’s looking for value-add: in consumer electronics, such as in the Bluetooth headset and hands-free equipment market, many of the players are looking to engage in a deeper way with the end user. One of the great ways to do this is to offer compelling cloud-based services that “wrap around” the consumer electronics offering (think for example of how backup has become a kay value-add service for netbook and laptop providers). The HandsFreeAssistant gives Dial2Do partners a great own-brand way to create longer term engagement with the end user, who is often totally unknown to the manufacturer of these devices.
Why do you think your product/service was shortlisted by the judges?
One of the things that may have stuck out was our route to market. We’ve taken a voice service with a lot of functionality, and simplified it so that anyone can use it, and bundled it with consumer electronics from our headset and hands-free partners. It’s a genuine win-win for us, for the equipment partner and for the consumer, and is a little bit innovative in the market today.
In addition, perhaps they liked our roadmap of where we see things headed with voice: as you get more intelligence in both the phones and even the headsets. there is great potential to really orchestrate all the moving parts end to end to offer the end user a beautiful, Apple-like experience, beyond what they get today.
Finally, we’ve seen great feedback from users with the service to date, and we encouraged the judges to try it for themselves (there’s one month free trial when you register at http://www.dial2do.com). So who knows – maybe they tried it and liked it!
What major developments do you expect to witness in the broadband technology market over the five years?
The most obvious is the continued growth in mobile broadband, whether via dongles, “pucks” such as those announced by Clearwire recently in the US, or even via handsets-as-hotspots such as we’ve seen with Google and Android. Aside form that: bandwidth and increasingly, embedded broadband in everyday devices, including cars.
You can read all the nomination interviews here.