Robo-call-cop By David M. Gwin
The key to creating a solution to prevent unwanted 'robo-calls' is understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent i.e. the 'robo-call cold-calling center'. Imagine a place where there is no natural light, only operators with head-sets tied to a computer or 'robo-dialer' employees separated from each other by a 3-sided sound proof partition. A gloomy space where the employee turn-over rate is so high that the operator rarely knows the names of the people working around them. In this setting each operator is connected to an auto-dialer that uses numerous lines to attempt to connect to as many random phone numbers as quickly as possible. Once a line is picked up by the call recipient, the computer signals the operator to connect with that line and begin reading from their prompted sales pitch. The fundamental weakness with this approach is the brief time period after the recipient picks up the phone and answers, and before the operator connects and begins the sales pitch. It is this brief period of 'dead air' in which my solution focuses on a defense method. Using the simple technology of a basic answering machine, combined with a line redirect switch and 2 voice-mail locations. "Robo-call-cop" is set up to be a call filter which shares the basic premise of a SPAM filter used by email providers.
How it works. When any call is placed 'R.C. cop' would simulate a ring tone on the callers end, then intercept the call and prompt the caller to speak or enter a specific dial tone. If the caller does not respond within 3 to 4 seconds (the average dead-air time that it takes the operator to switch over to the line)depending on user preference, it either ends the call or directs the call to a 'junk' voice mail box (usually the robo calling computer recognizes an answering machine and hangs up, hence when you check your messages and hear a long continuous dial tone (very annoying!)). If the caller does speak in a human voice or punches a signal tone, ‘R.C.cop’ then allows the phone to ring on the recipient side where it is either answered or saved as an actual voice message depending on whether or not the recipient is there to answer the call. What about necessary incoming automated calls, such as an appointment reminder from a doctor’s office, etc? The call recipient could still check the 'trash' mailbox and listen to the automated recorded message to receive the reminder (as the caller id would still relay the recent numbers that had called).
For land-lines ‘RC cop’ would be a small, external device plugged either directly into the phone jack at the wall, into the telephone receiver input, or be implemented into the modern telephone (which could draw power from the same source as the telephone/answering machine/caller ID system). For smart-phones ‘RC cop’ would be a simple ‘app’ that would use the processor in the phone itself to perform the same task. Either form of this device would be a low-cost solution to filtering out unwanted machine initiated calls.