It sounds almost too good to be true, but the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is trying to make it happen. They recently held a public contest to create a solution for blocking illegal robocalls—the ones that try to sell you something. The prize was $50,000 in cash (plus you could keep ownership of what you invent). Companies could also submit solutions and receive an honorary award.
The FTC received nearly 800 eligible submissions. The winners of the contest were announced on April 2, 2013 and there was a tie for Best Overall Solution. Check out what the winners came up with:
Aaron Foss created a solution called Nomorerobo. It’s cloud-based and prevents robocalls from ever making it to the recipient. By using conditional call forwarding, incoming calls would be routed to a second telephone line. This second line, sent to a Noborobo server, would identify and hang up on illegal robocalls before they could ring through to the intended recipient. Here’s a video about how it works:
Serdar Danis submitted the second winning proposal. Though it has the less sexy name of: Robocall Filtering System and Device with Autonomous Blacklisting,Whitelisting, GrayListing and Caller ID Spoof Detection—as the name suggests, it’s an illegal robocall filtering system. This system would analyze and block robocalls using software. It could be implemented as a mobile app, a device in a user’s home, or integrated into a provider’s telephone service. Here’s a simple image of how it would work:
Wondering which company received the honorary award? Google did, for their Crowd-Sourced Call Identification and Suppression solution. They suggest creating an online database where call recipients can report illegal robocalls. Telephones could automatically query this database, even before the phone rings, to see if the caller is identified as a robocaller. Incoming calls could be identified and flagged. If a customer didn’t want to take a flagged call, they could block it and not receive calls from that number in the future.
If you’d like to browse all the Robocall Challenge submissions, click here.
I really hope one or both of these solutions make it to market!