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Area 775 – Demonstrated by Michael Robertson

It looks like Michael isn’t wasting any time, he’s launching a new service today that lets anyone get a new Area775 phone number for free and of course it runs on.. SIP.

Michael-Robertson-Area775.mp3

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I spoke with Michael about Area775 and his foray into the Mobile and WiFi world. He also speaks to the recent injection of $6M and what those funds will be used for. The podcast starts off with a demo of Area775 and later gets into very good overview of Area775 features including…

* Free U.S. based telephone number assigned to your computer and any phone
* Dual Ring – Incoming calls simultaneously ring computer and regular phone*
* Call Screening – Listen to callers leave messages in real time (press 1 to take the call)
* Transfer Calls – You can transfer any call to any phone by pressing 2
* Voicemail (email and phone)
* SMS notification

Yes you will have to pay if you want to answer calls on your normal phone but he has to make it pay somehow. For a small monthly fee you can:

* Choose from a list of 775 numbers as well as other area codes
* Answer calls to your regular phone (cell or landline) free.
* Get a fax number
* Toll Free access for voicemail

Michael Robertson raises $6M for Gizmo Project

Michael sent me this Press Release yesterday announcing that SIPphone had just secured $6M in funding to bolster the Gizmo Project with a Mobile and WiFi extension.

“The release of Gizmo Project has driven over 400,000 registered users to our PC based service, but our goals go beyond free calls between PCs,” says SIPphone CEO, Michael Robertson. “We want to seamlessly link the internet and the traditional calling world of landlines and mobile phones and that’s becoming possible as low cost SIP based devices such as dual mode mobile phones and wifi phones become a reality.”

Apparently Michael plans to expand the San Diego office by 3-fold in order to build this next generation of Gizmo.

The financing round was lead by New York based venture firm Dawntreader Ventures and is the first external funding for SIPphone. Joining the board of SIPphone is Dawntreader managing director Edward G. Sim. Private investors from Michael Robertson’s previous digital music startup MP3.com Inc. also participated in the funding.

It looks like the VCs are making their moves into VoIP and IP Communications in a big way which means great things for the technologies and consumers that use them. I am going to try and catch up with Michael over the next few days and see if I can get a phone interview for the podcast.

Sightspeed’s New Release

Not a new player in PC-based IP Videoconferencing, Sightspeed has been building proprietary software for VoIP and Video for more than 5 years (a lifetime in this industry).

The fresh and new CEO – Peter Csathy was kind enough to comp me a Premium account so I could play with it a bit.

First impression was good, easy to download and get setup. Since they mention in their PR that they are leveraging Web 2.0 I would imagine they are using Ajax, it looks good.

Sightspeed 4.5

This new release is much more esthetically pleasing than past apps and includes some great tools for creating html links from the video/voice mail recordings as well.

The video clip can only be 60 seconds long and only as a local recording, I can’t record a video conference that I am part of. Not sure if this is by design but if we look at the flickr model we get plenty of storage space for free and Counterpath offers a SIP Voice/Video softphone that records all media to AVI.

In Sightspeed 4.5, we can extract the MPG link from the webpage that follows the recording which is great but I should not have to go through that much hassle to find it. I would also like it if the link were made available in MP4 and WMV and include the media extension in the html link so that my media enclosures will pick it up.

Skype got picked up by the bloggers because it was the easiest app to use that was freely available, it’s still not easy enough.

I should also be able to upload my own MP4, MOV, WMV etc. Add some mobile integration not unlike shoZu and multi-party conferencing recording capabilities for the Desktop client and we would now have a very useful tool for citizen journalists worldwide.

I would seem that most apps like this are targeting an audience that is less technically inclined but I think that with a little more work they could also carve out a pretty cool niche in a market that needs tools like this.

Alec has some comments as well.

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