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The CN Interview with Keith McMillen, CEO of OctiVox, maker of Clear Call

4 October, 2004

Before we interviewed President and CEO Keith McMillen of OctiVox, we tested out his company's product, called Clear Call. We were quite impressed. The device significantly improves the audio quality of a speakerphone, in our instance the Polycom SoundStation. If you want to tell your mother-in-law that you truly couldn't hear her when she mandated those upcoming Thanksgiving plans, don't buy this product; everything comes in loud and clear.

Conferencing News: What does your "Clear Call" product do?

Keith McMillen: We fix incoming audio quality on conference phones with a simple add on product called Clear Call. As we all know, a conference call can quickly degenerate into bedlam is every other phrase is "What did you say?" Clear Call uses professional dynamic range processing techniques to match the volume and quality of everyone on the call. Everyone sounds perfectly clear, corrected to within 1 db of difference. The loud guy in New York sounds the same as the quiet guy calling from Paris on a cell phone. Our audio processing work for all parties on the call, no matter if they call direct or are bridged. Even the quietest person at the back of the room will be intelligible with Clear Call's 24dB of correction, strong enough to compensate for a distance of 32 feet from the microphone.

CN: There are lots of loud guys in New York. How does the Clear Call device get installed?

KM: OctiVox Clear Call easily installs between the wall jack and the conference phone so it can correct the incoming phone signal before it hits the phone. Clear Call uses a technology called multi-band dynamics processing, previously used only by professional broadcasters and recording engineers, to adjust the audio signal for each call participant.

CN: Doesn 't a conference phone already do this?

KM: Some of today 's conference phones have simple audio correction for outbound audio, but they do nothing for inbound audio. That 's where we step in with a real-time audio processing that is compatible with today 's analog conference phones.

CN: Why hasn 't it been done before?

KM: Octiv 's innovation is getting professional recording techniques efficient enough to run on the processing resources available in a phone. Prior to our work, a multi-band dynamics processor could require 1,000 MIPS of processing power and custom hardware. We 've optimized the processing software to run efficiently on any standard DSP chip.

CN: Where can our readers buy the Clear Call device?

KM: Hello Direct carries the product, as well as Review Video and other channel partners. Since it is new this year, and new to the industry in general, we are promoting a free evaluation program to get it into the hands of resellers and integrators. Once you hear the difference for yourselves, you 'll be amazed how much more productive a conference call can be. We 're also developing outreach to conference service providers since they are often blamed for the poor audio.

CN: What next for OctiVox and Clear Call?

KM: We are dedicated to improving all aspects of conference audio by bringing professional quality audio to telephony. We see ourselves as fulfilling the promise of audio conferencing. As we say at Octiv, "Audio is not as glamorous as video, but most information actually travels by sound."

CN: Thanks, Keith. Good luck with OctiVox and the Clear Call product.

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