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Opera SoundWave -- April Fool's Day, 2005
The Norwegian company Opera Software (maker of the Opera web browser) issued a press release announcing it had developed new "P2P speech technology" that used "analogue signals carried through open air, enabling users to communicate in real-time without the use of computers or mobile phones." It called this invention "SoundWave technology."

It elaborated: "The new SoundWave technology was accidently discovered during an R&D study to speech-enable Opera's e-mail client. One of Opera's desktop developers needed to find an alternative way to relay a message to his colleague at a time when the e-mail server was down, and was startled to notice that his verbal outcry was intercepted and understood immediately."

P2P Revolution: Opera Announces Platform-Independent Real-Time Speech Technology

Oslo, Norway - April 1, 2005. Opera Software's R&D department today announced the discovery of a new technology dubbed 'Opera SoundWave' - a platform-independent speech solution for short- and medium-range interpersonal communication. Based on open standards, Opera's patent-pending P2P speech technology uses analogue signals carried through open air, enabling users to communicate in real-time without the use of computers or mobile phones.

Opera is spearheading the development to let people communicate without using a keyboard, and the new SoundWave technology was accidently discovered during an R&D study to speech-enable Opera's e-mail client. One of Opera's desktop developers needed to find an alternative way to relay a message to his colleague at a time when the e-mail server was down, and was startled to notice that his verbal outcry was intercepted and understood immediately.

"As most people, I have used e-mail as my primary means of communication for many years and accepted that it is not always 100 percent effective," says Trond Werner Hansen, Opera desktop developer and inventor of SoundWave, via a Technical Preview of the new technology. "Opera SoundWave has opened up a whole new world for me, enabling me to get things done faster and more efficiently than before - and it is remarkably easy to use."

More than an efficient way to communicate without keyboard input, Opera's new P2P speech technology solves the problem of frequent misunderstandings in non-contextual communication. Opera researchers realized this technology can incorporate dynamic emoticons far more advanced than those typically used in e-mails and instant messaging. Platform-independent, the P2P real-time speech technology from Opera seamlessly integrates with mass-market services like dating and shopping.

Opera Software admits the speech technology is at an early stage and that there are still problems that need to be solved. There may still be some compatibility issues, especially when roaming in foreign countries. Furthermore, the technology does not seem to work well over distances of more than 100 feet, and several issues related to security and privacy remain to be fixed.

"We have yet to find a good way to deal with spamming and phishing-attacks," writes Hakon Wium Lie, CTO, Opera Software, in an e-mail. "This may not be a problem in closed environments, such as walled gardens, but it can become a challenge on more crowded networks where you may be exposed to messages that are not meant for you, or you may have limited or no means of determining the identity of the sender."

"Opera's vision is to provide the best user experience, and the use of real-time speech technology is the natural step in the evolution of efficient interpersonal communication," writes Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. "Our research shows that there is a great need for this kind of technology, and we expect the market potential to be significant."

April Fool Categories: Internet Technology, Corporations, Norway, 2005.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.