Like any technology, VoIP requires constant innovation and adaptation in order to keep up with the always-changing ways we live. Over the past decade, it has shifted from being a voice protocol to the powerful unified communications engine that is today. The future of VoIP, and more specifically VoIP endpoints, will require continued evolution and adaptation. With the ability to communicate from almost any device, how do manufacturers ensure VoIP endpoints continue to be relevant?
The answer to that question may very well lie in the tenets of the Internet-of-things (IoT), a paradigm-shifting idea that is changing the way we look at technology. The IoT strives to interconnect every internet-capable device “to transfer and access data over a network without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” (Tech Target). It offers a seamless way to connect all of the devices, applications and platforms we use every day, allowing them to work together and create smart, proactive, impactful technology solutions that make our lives easier.
Every VoIP device can and should be able to serve multiple purposes beyond sending voice and video-packets. Most every SIP device has built-in computing power and at least a speaker and/or camera, giving these endpoints the ability to communicate with other devices, platforms and sensors. This is where the IoT meets VoIP and why the future of VoIP may very well be based on the IoT. Manufacturers are now looking at VoIP endpoints as smart solutions that can proactively work together, share information and serve a variety of purposes.
The push to develop more dynamic and smart endpoints will have extraordinary benefits for the service-provider community. As endpoints get smarter and expand their functionality, service providers will be able to get more from their existing networks and offer customers additional services and solutions without having to make backend changes or build new networks. Recently, manufacturers like us at Grandstream have sought to expand the functionality and integration options of our endpoints to allow service providers to expand the solutions they can offer, and to allow business users to build smart offices that expand the flow of information. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Security and Facility Access
VoIP endpoints can play a proactive role in keeping any location secure while also controlling access to that facility. IP security cameras and door access systems can be called from any internet-connected device to view live feeds. These security devices and platforms can be set to automatically call or notify IP phones when any security event occurs. IP phones can also work with door access systems, like our GDS3710, to allow users to be notified when visitors arrive and to allow or restrict building access.
The merging of VoIP platforms with popular mobile platforms has begun. There are a variety of IP phones, led by our GXV series of IP Video Phones for Android™, that run the Android operating system, allowing them to use any Android app and sync with any Google account. Integration with mobile platforms offers unlimited IoT possibilities for SIP devices to do everything from control the office thermostat to redirect calls and messaging based on real-time presence.
VoIP endpoints now offer a variety of messaging options and applications that allow them to communicate with almost any other device. Many VoIP platforms are being integrated with messaging platforms, allowing use of Skype™, Google Hangouts™, Slack™ and more, from many IP phones. Many IP phones even support SMS text messaging.
Scheduling and Calendars
Many UC systems and video conferencing solutions can be automatically synced with Google Calendar. If you schedule a video conference with your video conferencing device, or schedule a conference call through your UC platform, the devices can automatically add those events to any Google Calendar and call all participants when the event begins.
Property Management Systems
By integrating a property management system (PMS) with a VoIP network, VoIP endpoints can be used to manage critical operations and logistics within a hotel. Hotel staff can use any IP phone to access or feed data, for example, mini bar status, into a PMS platform. That data can then be accessed on many other devices for hotel management and billing. This allows hotels to deploy endpoints not only for calling, but also for real-time property management.
Customer Relationship Management Platforms
UC platforms and IP phones can now be integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to allow them to provide detailed information about every caller and feed data from the call back into the CRM.
Mobile Device Integration
All the features of your UC system can be accessed on any mobile device. Softphone apps allow users to use mobile devices to utilize all VoIP features. Many IP PBXs and hosted platforms can forward calls to mobile phones as well as faxes and voicemails to email. This article has also touched on a variety of other ways that SIP endpoints can share information with mobile devices.
This Is Just the Beginning…
Since every SIP device is connected to the Internet, includes built-in computing power, and offers voice and/or video functionality, the IoT possibilities for VoIP endpoints is almost unlimited. The potential is there for VoIP devices to automatically control and manage everything within any facility using real-time data, including lighting, HVAC, communication flows, presence, maintenance and more. We are just beginning to discover the true potential that the IoT offers to VoIP. Stay tuned. Learn more and visit us at Connections 2018 in booth E1.
If you're not able to join us in Miami, register to watch the General Session live streams on November 13 and 14.