The video is available on their website, and is rather insightful.
One point, though, is that they intend to use conditional call forwarding to monitor incoming calls. That makes no sense, though -- what condition would you use? Generally the only conditions available for this are if unreachable, busy, or unanwered, at which point it's too late.
Unconditional call forwarding makes more sense, though usually carriers charge the consumer for this option.
This point needs clarification as this entire system is useless unless multiple people use the service.
Interesting approach, and nice video. But there are several issues with the solution:
A. Conditional call forwarding on the PSTN does not generally ring 2 destinations simultaneously, as "line hunting" does. It's only presented to the 2nd destination after forwarding action has been conditionally invoked, at which point it's no longer available to the original destination. Line hunting, to provide simultaneous ringing at 2 endpoints, is primarily a PBX feature, not so much a PSTN one, if at all.
B. How does the system deal with robocalls that use numbers spoofed from the white list? It seems likely that many organizations would belong to the white list, but that would result in making a large number of whitelist numbers good candidates for spoofing.
C. The demo implies that a caller is blacklisted by not responding to a single prompt. I'd think more than a single instance would be needed, to avoid incorrectly blacklisting the number, if there were call audio issues, or the caller fat fingers the digit replies. Similarly, this handling could be abused to deliberately blacklist callers.
"Conditional Call Forwarding" as defined in traditional (land-line and mobile) end-offices does not do "simultaneous ringing". When the "condition" is met (and the "condition" can be busy or don't answer, or for "selective call forwarding" it is generally matching one of a list of incoming calling line ID's, where the list has been entered into the switch in ADVANCE), the call is forwarded to the alternate destination, INSTEAD of ringing the target line.
There is today no "generally available" star-code in mobile and fixed-line switches for the feature on which this solution depends. Some switches do have a "simultaneous ring" feature but it is not widely licensed from the switch manufacturers and not generally made available by the network operators.
Even if that feature were available, think about what would happen to call signaling traffic if any sizable number of people actually turned on this "solution". For every incoming call to a subscriber, the end-office switch / MTSO is going to have to set up an additional outbound call to the "NOMOROBO" server. That server (or actually complex of servers) is going to have to be monstrous in order to handle the volume of inbound traffic.
And the solution seems to fall apart when robocallers move to randomized caller-ID (as some already have). A robocaller can simply use, for example, the phone number to which he made his last call, as the caller-ID for his next call. He never uses the same caller-ID twice, so there's nothing to match. (And they will keep coming up with more clever, less detectable schemes as time wears on).
This "filter device" solution already exists as the Digitone Call Blocker, an FTC Challenge submission that was overlooked. The top winner is using a phone company feature that will cost extra money for every customer per month and, not all phone companies offer "Conditional Call Forwarding" including Comcast officially.
Looks like the consumer still loses in the end as the cost to maintain the databases at the FTC and compulsion to integrate that service into "Comcasts" that don't have the service will just escalate to even higher costs for the consumer.
Watch the Nomorobo video at their website and see how Aunt Betty who can't find her glasses to dial 71 in time to prevent being blocked when she gets the message. They don't offer a recourse solution for her. Looks like you will need a whole call center to handle the mistakes. More escalation. And what about emergencies to get through? ........
Can the governmental agency FTC force private phone companies to install Conditional Call Forwarding and at their expense?
Couple questions to FTC judges and people who read this post.
1) If 2 ideas are similar but one submitted one day before the other one, wouldn't the first submitter get the recognition first?
2) I see that NoMoRobo is based on Google Voice with the enhancement of CAPTCHA. To be fair to all the submitters, whatever the stuff submitted to the FTC shall be made public. Would like to know the operating cost of this solution. If it costs $10 per month per phone line, who's paying (the user or the government)? Some people in the U.S. cannot afford the $5 per month callerID service; they see it as unnecessary cost and thus they don't want to pay for it.
3) I see NoMoRobo video made available in March 23, 2013. This is over 2 months after the deadline, the video shall be automatically dismissed as it missed the January 2013 deadline.
4) When I submitted my project 2 days before the deadline, I also put my video demonstrating the working prototype on the same day. Today, I tracked my video viewed history. I see that the judges never viewed my demo video. This begs the question of fairness. Isn't all the solution submitted be reviewed by the judges?
As the submitter to ZapIt (www.sokha.com), I'd like to know what the judges and readers of this post have to say.
Congrats on the win, I just watched your video. The only protection this system provides is a captcha system which will be easily by passed once the robocallers learn the system. The gray, white and black list will help, but people change their phone numbers allot and your system would block phone numbers that get changed.
To all the people who lost this competition but feel their submission was worthy of winning, now is the time to patent your idea so when these fail you will not get robbed of your hard work.
Regrettably, the winning submissions are built on and are disclosed after the patentable submissions made by others. Should I file a provisional patent application to protect my rights, this may be a problem for your winners. Late entries clearly copy, intentionally or coincidentally, and build on the ideas of earlier entries. I hope this doesn't cause a problem for you or the "winners".