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  • Writer's pictureTravis Bogard

The Phone Call, Reimagined

Creating a better way to talk and share

Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

Why has the experience of a phone call remained relatively unchanged for the past 140 years? On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call, ushering in a new age where we could use our voices to communicate even when we were far apart. In the 140 years since that moment, we’ve seen some advances in voice communication with the introduction of automated switches, digital signal, wireless, and VoIP. Yet, with the exception of being able to take a phone call from a mobile phone and layer on video, the overall experience, conventions, and behaviors around a “call” has remained relatively the same. However, by preserving this overall experience, we’ve also retained so many of the limitations that a phone call inherently possesses that we saw a generation of people dismiss voice entirely, and with it we nearly lost one of the most powerful ways we have of communicating.


As audio and voice are making a re-entrance, we must rethink the overall experience and not be beholden to the traditions and limitations of the past. We must reimagine the phone call.



Why does everyone have to be on the same call at the same time? One of the most limiting aspects of the phone call is that it requires all people to be there at the same time. This creates complexity in coordination, is disruptive to people’s schedules, and overall forces a “meeting” culture to try and address these issues. If an individual has a poor network connection, this interrupts the conversation as people wait for the person to rejoin or re-state what was missed the first time. “Can you hear me now?” is a phrase I think we all wish we never had to say or hear again. These problems get exponentially worse as you need to add more people to the conversation, and with our busy, on-the-go schedules across more time–zones, this is a big reason communication has often gone back to lower-fidelity forms of communication like text or email.


What if our voice conversations could be flexible enough to allow people to be there at the same time if they can be, but also does not require it to get the conversation going?

What if our voice conversations could be flexible enough to allow people to be there at the same time if they can be, but also does not require it to get the conversation going? What if we could come and go as easily as we do in text messaging or email?




Why can only one person speak at a time? Why are our Conversations constrained by a block of time instead of completion of a discussion? The format of a call is serial, which means each person must take turns speaking one after another on the same track of discussion, which is all constrained in an overall amount of time before people must hangup. In practice, this means some ideas take too much time as the pressure of the clock forces half-baked ideas into the call, while other important ideas are often passed over as time runs out. Inclusivity is also sacrificed as some brilliant, but soft-spoken individuals may never get a chance to get a word in. The result is the Conversation and topical discussions are controlled more by the clock instead of the successful resolution of a topic.

...what if...Conversations could flow by topic and everyone could explore and evolve on a topic or idea at their own pace, when they are ready and without waiting for their turn?

But, what if instead of a forced linear clock, Conversations could flow by topic and everyone could explore and evolve on a topic or idea at their own pace, when they are ready and without waiting for their turn (which may never come)?





Why do phone calls feel so heavy and like they take so much time from start to finish? Getting on a phone call often requires a series of events to take place and a number of considerations to align. We try to find moments when both we are free and we think the person we are calling will be free. Or, we spend time going back and forth to schedule a call. We then spend time dialing, letting the phone ring, and playing back and forth phone tag. And once connected, there is more conversation setup and potentially dropped calls or other interruptions. This is a lot, just to start the conversation, which was the real reason for the call in the first place.

What if, instead of waiting for everything to fall into line, we could quickly share an idea, ask a question, or just say “Hi” the moment the idea strikes?


Why do we have to repeat ourselves? Often our conversations should include other people. Sometimes we know this, but scheduling another person would delay things so we opt to catch them up later. Sometimes we invite them, but they show up late, forcing the team to wait or move forward. And sometimes the conversation evolves and we realize it would be great to include another person. In each of these situations, we are forced to spend time repeating the conversation to catch other people up.


What if someone could join a conversation at any time as if they had been there all along?


Why do we still have to say, “I’ll send the link/article/document to you later!”? More often than not our conversations are about something: an article we read, a document we updated, blueprints we shared, or information about a product feature that we want to discuss. Yet, with voice we are forced to refer to them indirectly, which then often requires the statement, “I sent it over to you in Email” or “I’ll send it to you later!”.


One of the most powerful mechanisms that created the foundation of the Internet was the hyperlink. It allowed us to no longer indirectly refer to something, but instead directly refer someone to the content we were talking about. Sure, video conferencing has a chat box or screen share where we can point; however, this often only loosely links to the actual conversation point or idea being discussed, and the directness of link is lost as time goes by and when the “meeting” ends. What if we could directly augment what we say in voice with the supporting links?


It’s time we bring voice back into our Conversations with a new and improved experience. The limitations of the call experience is what lead to us relying so heavily on text-based services over the past 20 years, despite its own shortcomings. As an early developer working on AIM in the mid-90’s, I remember talking with family and friends about how powerful the flexibility of text-based chats would be and how communication would shift to this new format. The overwhelming response at the time was “No one other than computer people is going to communicate with email or text messages. It’s too cold and inhuman. It’s not how people talk.”


25 years later, they were clearly wrong, as the convenience and flexibility of being able to message and reply on your own time won out. However, they were right about the human connection. We feel this viscerally as we observe conversations play out in email, social media, and other text formats, where it’s too easy to be disconnected with the human on the other side. We see our message being lost in these dialogues as subtlety and nuance are removed due to the low-bandwidth limitations of text. And despite the prevalence of text solutions, the phone call still plays a prominent role in much of our communication, and a new generation has already quickly adopted voice messaging as a way to preserve that human connection.

But what if we could fuse together the power of the phone call with the flexibility of text-based messaging platforms?

But what if we could fuse together the power of the phone call with the flexibility of text-based messaging platforms? What if it wasn’t a trade-off between the mediums, but we could capture the best of both worlds?


This is the vision of Carbon Voice. We are reimagining the phone call, and we’re doing it by combining the richness of voice, the real-time capabilities of a phone call, and the flexibility of time-delayed listening and responding. No call-setup. No forced interruptions. Just seamless back and forth dialogue.


Easy for everyone. Built for business. Carbon Voice is a better way to talk and share.


We look forward to you bringing your voice into the Conversation!



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