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What Happens an Hour After Your Cell Phone Is Taken Away

The panic! The mayhem! The unthinkable reality of being without your phone!!

Our phones are intertwined in our lives, our habits and our identities. The results of scientific studies continue to demonstrate just how important phones have become to our daily lives.

The data tells us that three-quarters of phone owners use their phone at least once every hour (11% every few minutes, 41% a few times an hour and 20% once an hour.) The saying “never leave home without it” rings true, as 72% of people stay within 5 feet of their phone at all times. And our phones prompt regular attention, with people checking them on average 150 times throughout their day.



Cell phone use has even been compared to drug or alcohol addiction. After compiling information from several scientific studies, here’s a look at what the first 60 minutes of withdrawal may look like:


First 10 minutes:

  • “Extreme tech anxiety”: If you’re like 51% of people, you’ll report experiencing “extreme tech anxiety” when being separated from your phone.
  • Acute stress response: Similar to fight or flight, not being able to access your ringing phone causes an acute stress response with an increase in both heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Lower cognitive performance: Research shows that phone separation decreases your ability to perform mental tasks during exams and meetings.

More symptoms include:

  • Feelings of isolation and disconnectedness from the lack of access to friends, family and social media audiences.
  • Feeling sad, awkward, fidgety and negative.
  • Phantom phone syndrome, thinking your phone is ringing when it’s not.


After 30 minutes:

  • More anxiety: Anxiety continues to increase if you’re a heavy phone user, but for moderate and light phone users, anxiety levels plateau after 15 minutes.

More symptoms include:

  • Boredom from being without media, music and other apps (a 22% chance).
  • Confusion and disorientation without GPS or Google.
  • Heightened tech cravings when witnessing other people check their phones. This phenomenon caused by the brain’s “mirror neurons” has also been widely seen in cigarette smokers.


After 60 minutes:

  • Acknowledgement of addiction: After experiencing the breadth of psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms, the word “addiction” is widely used to describe the dependence on your cell phone.


While human evolution has shown that it is valuable to have such a strong biological response to seeing a tiger, for example, the response to cell phone withdrawal does not hold the same life-preserving function. If, in just an hour, a dramatic range of physiological and psychological symptoms are demonstrated, something’s not quite right.

In line with the increasing number of recommendations for digital detoxes and technology sabbaticals, spending an hour without a cell phone can offer insight into your own relationship with technology.


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10 Years of Using a Cell Phone – ADD, Hunchback, Insomnia, Cell Addiction

Do you remember getting your first cell phone? Whether you were 10 years old or 50 years old, this technological moment was also the beginning of a series of psychological and physical changes.

A telephone is necessary, both for safety and connection. But in a short time, our phone habits have morphed from the head tilt of cradling a wall phone handset to the forward slouch of hunching over our smartphones.




Smartphone ownership is rapidly increasing:

  • The first iPhone was released in 2007.
  • In 2011, 35% of U.S. adults owned a smartphone.
  • By 2015, smartphone ownership increased to 68% of U.S. adults.

These devices have changed our habits and behaviors:

  • 52% of smartphone owners check their phones at least once an hour.
  • 46% of smartphone owners say they couldn’t live without it.
  • 50% of teens feel they are addicted to their mobile devices.

Smartphone ownership brings with it an array of scientifically proven psychological and physiological effects that increase over time and with intensity of usage.


Psychological Effects

  1. Increased convenience but also increased availability: At first, you may notice the benefits of connectivity, like the convenience of being able to look up info on a restaurant or check in with your family. In fact, 17% of smartphone owners cite convenience as the best thing about their phone. Yet this convenience comes at a cost. Being constantly available is cited as the worst thing about their phone by 24% of owners. Because when your boss calls your cell while you’re at happy hour, that voicemail is not going to wait until Monday morning.
  2. Socially connected but lacking intimacy and closeness: The apps on our smartphones keep us connected to each other, but researchers are noticing that the quality of our interactions are changing. Rather than focusing on face-to-face engagement, cell phones at social gatherings hurt the conversation and atmosphere, according to 82% of adults. Cell phones have also become an avoidance tool, with 23% of cell phone owners admitting to using their phone in public spaces to avoid interacting with others.
  3. Altered experience of life: With high-quality cameras in our pockets, there is an instinct to catch the exciting moments of our lives. Whether it’s to remember a baby’s first word or to grab a selfie at that concert for an epic social media post, we are taking more and more photos. There are 1.8 billion digital images uploaded every single day. That’s 657 billion photos in one year. The trend to capture life moments is changing how we experience them, and research has identified that it is also changing how we remember those captured moments.
  4. Shorter attention span than a goldfish: Humans have shown a sharp decline in attention span over a relatively short period of time. Having had a 12-second attention span in 2000, we have since declined to an 8-second attention span as of 2016. A goldfish’s attention span is 9 seconds, making it more focused than the average human.
  5. Heightened sense of time pressure: Being constantly available has changed our perceptions of time. With near-constant alerts from apps, emails, text messages and social media, the speed of life seems to be quickening its pace, and the urge to respond to these notifications is interfering with offline activities.
  6. Decreased happiness: Studies have found that frequent cell phone use correlates with overall lower levels of happiness. Researchers saw that limiting students’ cell phones resulted in dramatic changes in just two to three weeks, with subjects smiling more readily at the end of the experiment.
  7. Addiction: Researchers are seeing similarities between heavy cell phone use and drug or alcohol addiction. In terms of brain activity, message notifications evoke a similar dopamine spike that leaves you wanting more. This compulsive behavior is evident in that 74% of people text while driving, even though 98% believe it’s dangerous.
  8. Dependency: Being separated from one’s devices can cause desperation and panic. The majority of adults have a fear of losing their phone, and 66% suffer from nomophobia, or “no mobile phone phobia.”
  9. Trapped by technology: Psychologists are seeing an emergence of “techno-trapped persons” who avoid in-person contact, carry themselves differently, fidget and are uncomfortable in their bodies. Excessive cell phone use directly impacts psychological wellbeing and has prompted many to start taking technology sabbaticals or digital detoxes so as to promote a more balanced relationship with technology and preserve mental health.


Physical Effects

  1. Digital Eye Strain: Americans spend on average 4.7 hours looking at their phones each day — that’s about 30% of our time awake. With symptoms including dry, irritated eyes and blurred vision, digital eye strain impacts 65% of Americans.
  2. “Text Neck”: Visualize this posture: Your head drops forward and your shoulders round or lift towards your ears. After remaining too long in this texting position, you start to feel spasms and cramps in your neck and shoulder muscles. The average number of text messages sent per month has increased from 62 messages in 2005 (back when you had three letters to a number key) to 491 messages per month in 2014. We’re texting a lot, and “text neck” has been identified as a repetitive strain injury that results from hunching over smartphones.
  3. Hand pain: There has been an increasing occurrence of hand injuries, and not the kind you get from smashing your thumb with a hammer. Curling our hands around smartphones and touch typing on screens for extended lengths of time causes inflammation, aching, cramping and tendonitis.
  4. Slouching: More than just neck pain, the posture of cell phone use affects the entire spine. Back pain is also linked to hunching over a cell phone, and this bad posture has been found to alter our mood, memory and behavior as well.
  5. Headaches: Whether it’s a dull ache at the end of the day or the sharp onset of a migraine, long hours of staring at screens leads to the known headache triggers of exhaustion, lack of circulation and eye strain.
  6. Deadly consequences: One in four car accidents are a result of cell phone use. The majority of these, 81%, occur while drivers are talking on the phone either with handheld or hands-free devices. The other 19% of crashes are from texting.
  7. Ghost phone:  Have you ever thought your phone was ringing or vibrating, only to discover that you merely imagined it? Phantom phone vibration was felt by 90% of surveyed U.S. college students, making it a very common technological hallucination.
  8. Disrupted sleep: With 68% of people sleeping with their phone next to their bed, late-night cell phone use has been known to cause people to have a harder time falling asleep. Cell phone use is disrupting natural circadian rhythms and sleep cycles, which causes more harm than just a recurring tiredness. It increases the risk for diabetes, cancer and obesity.



Because the rapid adoption of cell phone technology has altered human behavior so quickly, researchers are still discovering the physical and psychological impacts.

Current studies demonstrate overwhelming evidence of the significant impact of cell phone overuse. Although withdrawal may be difficult, putting down the screen clearly results in benefits like living a healthier and happier life.


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8 Apps That Will Save Your Office Thousands of Dollars

1Regardless of the size of your business, one of the most important responsibilities is making sure you aren’t wastefully spending money. If you are, you can be certain your business won’t succeed. In fact, poor financial management is one of the main culprits in business failures. SmallBizTrends.com released an infographic which asserted that 30% of businesses are continually losing money.

If you don’t want that to happen to your business, then it’s imperative that you know where money is coming in from, how much you’re spending each month and ways to cut the fat. These eight apps can help you accomplish all of these tasks..

1. Google Drive

If you haven’t taken advantage of this incredible file storage and synchronization service from Google, then you’re definitely doing yourself and your company a disservice. Google Drive allows businesses to create, collaborate and share files like Word documents and spreadsheets with team members quickly, conveniently and for free. However, if you need unlimited storage, you’ll have to pay $10 a month per user.

Google Drive also comes with an email address, calendar and Hangouts so you can communicate with your team while keeping them and yourself organized at the same time. Google Drive can also be accessed from any device you own (Mac, PC, Android or iOS device, etc.). Ultimately, Google Drive is one of the best ways to increase workflow within your business while not having to spend a fortune.

Rikki Ayers of Be Rad Media uses Google Calendar for scheduling. Ayers starts by creating a schedule on a whiteboard. “I usually set aside two-hour blocks for client work throughout the day, but I also schedule exercise, breaks, meals, phone calls and even housework,” says Ayers. “I’ll also enter the client work and tasks required for my own business (social media scheduling, for example) into Asana, and I schedule phone calls and appointments in Google Calendar to ensure I get notifications on my phone.”

2. Ooma Office

Want a big business phone system for your office for a fraction of the cost? For just $19.95 per month, Ooma Office provides features like a virtual receptionist, extension dialing, music on hold, call transfer, virtual tax and conferencing. You can make unlimited calls to anyone residing in the U.S. and Canada, and use the Ooma Office mobile app to make or accept calls on your Android or iOS device.

Since Ooma is so easy to set up, you can install the system yourself in just a matter of minutes — which means you don’t have to worry about bringing in a technician or being charged an for installation fee.

3. Slack

Warning: If you start using Slack, don’t plan on ever going back to email or any other communication channel you’ve used in the past. It’s just that good and effective. Slack, for those who aren’t aware, is a cloud-based collaboration tool that includes chat rooms dedicated to specific topics, private or group direct messaging, group calls and file storage. Slack has mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone users so you can communicate with everyone on your team anytime, anywhere in the world.

This messaging app is free, but if you need to upgrade, plans start at just $6.67 per user per month.

4. Trello

Sometimes you and your team need to have a collaboration tool to keep everyone on the same page, as well as assign tasks and monitor the progress of tasks. While there are a lot of project management tools out there, Trello is one of the more efficient options thanks to its use of boards. This makes the tool highly visual so you can easily see on a board the status of projects or any other updates. Information is updated in real time, and team members can receive notifications so no one will miss anything important. Trello also integrates with Google Drive, Box and Dropbox.

There is a free version, but for more robust business features, monthly plans start at $8.33.

5. Mint

Are you having a tough time creating and sticking to a budget? Then Mint is definitely a tool you need to check out. You start by inputting all your financial information, such as monthly expenses and daily spending. With this information, Mint helps you create budgets so you’re aware of where your money is going and provides advice on how to keep your finances in order. You can also automate payments and receive alerts whenever there’s any suspicious activity in your accounts. With the mobile app, you can manage your money no matter where you are.

Believe it or not, you get all of this for free.

6. Wave

If you have fewer than 10 employees and are on a tight budget, then Wave was designed specifically for you. This easy-to-use software allows you to handle everything from invoicing to payroll, receipt scanning and expense tracking. Wave also connects with PayPal and your bank account, and it offers a useful tool to find accountants in your area.

Wave is 100% free, but you can add premium services like payroll or expert help for $19 per month.

7. Toggl

Do you know how long it takes your team to complete a project? If not, your business could be losing a lot of money. For example, if projects or tasks are taking too long to complete, it may not be worth it to continue. Toggl can also help you determine when you or your employees are wasting time and leverage that data to boost your productivity.

Here’s how it works: With just one click, you track every second of your and your employees’ workdays. You can then analyze that information and view it on graphs so you can see where the billable areas are for a client or project. Divide your employees into various departments and compare productivity so you can award your Employee of the Week.

Following a 30-day free trial, Toggl offer plans at $9, $18 or $49 per month.

8. StayFocusd

“One of my favorite ‘work from home’ productivity hacks comes with the help of an app called StayFocusd,” says Lori Cheek, founder and CEO of Cheekd.

“When working from home, Facebook and Twitter can be a major distraction. StayFocusd helps avoid these distractions by restricting the amount of time you can spend on them,” Cheek says. “The Google Chrome extension lets you set specific time restrictions on certain websites with a 10-minute default option. Once your time has been used up, the sites you have selected to block can’t be accessed for the remainder of the day.”

What apps has your business used to save money?

A Look at the Evolution of Messaging

Not too long ago, we lived in a world without the convenience of instant messaging, a time before you could connect to your friends and social media followers in real time with a keystroke. It’s peculiar to envision a society without smiley face emoticons. The way we communicate has certainly come a long way. Join us as we trace the origins of messaging back thousands of years.


Our journey in mass communication starts with the oldest cave painting, a red disk, found in El Castillo, Spain. Archeologists have determined the painting is approximately 40,800 years old. The estimated reach of the cave painting is likely the total Neanderthal world population of 70,000 at its peak. However, since the painting cannot be moved, there is a chance it may never reach anyone other than the painter.

The origin of writing can be traced back to Cuneiform script, found on clay tablets from ancient Sumer (Iraq) dating back to 3200 BC. The estimated reach of these tablets and their early written words would encompass the city of Uruk, with a population of approximately 50,000 to 80,000 residents at its height in 2900 BC.

Written word led to more advancement in human interaction. Homing pigeons were utilized to deliver messages written on pieces of parchment across far distances. One of the first documented cases dates back to 776 BC in Olympia, Greece, where pigeons were used to announce the winners of the first Olympic games to local villages. These pigeons were capable of flying more than a thousand miles, with an average flight speed of 50 mph.

Another method to send written letters was by mail. In 450 BC, Darius the Great built an ancient highway, the Royal Road, to facilitate rapid communication in the first Persian Empire. The route ran 1,677 miles from Susa to Sardis. Using a series of relay stations, royal couriers could cover the entire distance in 7 to 9 days. The reach of this mail system would span the population of the Achaemenid Empire, which had 50 million people at its peak.

Smoke signals were also a practical way to communicate over a vast distance. The use of smoke signals can be traced all the way back to 200 BC, when they were used as a threat warning system in beacon towers along the Great Wall. The potential reach of this form of communication would’ve been the population of the Han dynasty, 57.7 million. These messages could be transmitted as far away as 470 miles in just a few hours.

Printing revolutionized the written word. In 1454, Johannes Gutenberg printed the first major mass-produced book, a Latin-language Bible, using a movable type press in Mainz, Germany. Preparation began in 1450, with 180 finished copies available in 1454. The first printed newspaper, the Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, was printed in 1605 by Johann Carolus in Strasbourg, Germany. In 1950, there were 1,772 daily papers printed in the United States. In 2000, there were 1,480 daily papers printed.

Electrical signals were utilized in communication in 1844 when Samuel Morse sent the very first telegraph message from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Maryland, a distance of 35 miles. At its peak popularity, there were 236 million telegraph messages sent in 1945. Early electric telegraphs claimed to travel at 2,600 words per hour without the use of horses, roads or additional manpower.

Over time, mail services became more efficient and commonly used. The Pony Express, which ran in 1860, reduced the delivery times of mail, newspapers and small packages in the United States using mounted riders and relay stations. It could deliver a package in 10 days along its 1,900-mile length from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, utilizing 100 stations, 80 riders and 400 to 500 horses. Today the current reach of the postal service is equal to the 154.2 billion pieces of mail delivered in 2015.

Technology would also strive to transmit spoken word. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call in his Boston laboratory to an assistant in the next room. In 1877, the first long-distance telephone line was established, connecting callers located within a distance of 60 miles across Nevada County, California. The reach of landline usage peaked in developed nations in 2001 at 57 fixed lines per 100 people.

In 1900, Reginald Fessenden made the first audio radio transmission, “words without wires.” His broadcast range was 1 mile out of Rock Point, Maryland. In 1906, Fessenden made the first successful two-way trans-Atlantic broadcast, exchanging Morse code from Brant Rock all the way to Machrihanish, Scotland, some 2,979 miles away. On Christmas Eve of that same year, he made the first broadcast of an 11-minute program featuring “O Holy Night” and Bible verses. The range of this broadcast carried to ships along the northeast Atlantic coast and shore stations at Norfolk, Virginia.

Taking the work of Bell to the next level, Motorola employee Martin Cooper made the first cellular phone call from midtown Manhattan to the Bell Labs headquarters in New Jersey 22 miles away in 1973.

The Internet then revolutionized how we interact. The first email could be traced back to 1971 when Ray Tomlinson of Cambridge, Massachusetts, sent the first message over ARPANET from one computer to another located right next to it. Today’s email reach consists of approximately 205 billion emails sent per day between 2.5 billion users worldwide. Online chat first developed in 1961 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where The Compatible Time Sharing System allowed up to 30 users to log on at the same time. By 1965, the system saw its reach expand and link hundreds of users at MIT and New England colleges. America On Line launched its standalone chat program, AOL Instant Messenger, in 1997. By 2005, AIM dominated the instant messaging market with 53 million users.

In 1992, the first SMS (text) message, “Merry Christmas,” was sent from an engineer to a director at Vodafone over the GSM network in the UK. Today’s reach covers approximately 8.3 trillion text messages sent per year. That’s 23 billion per day and 16 million per minute.

In recent times, social media platforms and apps have become frontrunners in how we exchange information. In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg, a 19-year-old college sophomore, launched his own social network, “thefacebook.com,” at Harvard University. Facebook currently reaches 1.1 billion daily active users. Every 20 minutes, 3 million messages are sent. WhatsApp was created by former Yahoo employees Brian Acton and Jan Koum for the newly formed App Store in 2010. Today, WhatsApp has a reach of 1 billion users, with 34 billion messages sent per day. Snapchat, developed by Stanford students Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy in 2011, could share images and messages that would not stay imprinted in the Internet’s memory forever. This disappearing messaging app now has a reach of 100 million users and 10 billion views per day. Kik Messenger was created in 2009 by students at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. Kik preserves its users’ anonymity, allowing them to register without a telephone number and only list a chosen username. Kik is quickly becoming popular, especially among teens, and its reach has risen to 300 million users in 230 countries.

As you can see, messaging sure has come a long way. Between calls, emails, texts and social media apps, we are available any time of the day from nearly anywhere in the world. Think of all the people you could send smiley face emoticons to. What a time to be alive.


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Roundup of the 3 Simplest Office-Saving Tips From Small Biz Owners

Multiracial Business Woman in a MeetingAs a small business owner, one of your top priorities is to carefully monitor your expenses, create a budget and find clever ways to save money. After all, the mismanagement of cash flow is the main reason that small businesses fail.

That may sound easier than it’s done. Even though you want to be mindful of your expenses, you also don’t want to cut so many corners that you can’t stay competitive. But it is possible. Here are some small business owners who found innovative ways to save money at their office.

Get a Bookkeeping App

“I have only been using bench.co for my bookkeeping since January of this year, but the amount of stress and time they have saved me has already paid dividends for my business,” says Skyler Irvine, owner and co-founder of Myriad Real Estate and founder/CEO of GraceLane.co. “Because they developed their own software in house, I am not forced to learn how to use Quickbooks that most bookkeepers require.”

Besides saving time and speeding up the bookkeeping process, storing this information in the cloud can help your business go green because it will cut down on paper and printing costs. As an added bonus, you can also save on storage costs and even reduce the size of your team.

Keep Your Team Lean

Thanks to technology, you can keep your teams lean. For example, VoIP services allow you to have the same features as your larger competitors but without the need for having a full-time staff. Also, the communication services give you the chance to work with employees from all over the world so you don’t have to rent out a large office.

Use Social Media for Marketing and Customer Service

Social media can be a more affordable option than traditional marketing for small businesses. As Ebong Eka, a CPA and small business expert, has said, “You either market to your customers or your competitors will market to them. Social media is cheaper than traditional forms of marketing.” Eka said you can start off by using paid Facebook ads with a small budget of around $3 to $5 per day.

Besides marketing, social media can be used to handle customer service.

“Businesses need to consider leveraging messaging technology by developing chatbots or even simply using popular messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger, as a customer service channel,” suggests Tony Valado, 1-800-Flowers.com‘s VP of marketing. “With over 1 billion consumers already using messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate with family, friends and brands, the next wave of conversational commerce is on the verge of taking hold. Businesses should prepare to delight their customers through these channels.”

Valado also says, “Once they’ve successfully leveraged messaging technology, businesses should work toward a distributed commerce infrastructure that enables their consumers to interact and purchase from whatever website, device or app they are on. A distributed commerce model that allows companies to plug their business into other third-party properties will allow companies to maximize their relationships with their customers and drive further business growth.”

In the coming weeks, we’ll share more tips on how you can save money in your office.

In the meantime, if you have tips of your own, please let us know.

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From Alexander Graham Bell to Smartphones: The Evolution of VoIP

Compared to most other forms of communication, VoIP is a relatively new medium that has only been around since the 1990s. And unlike traditional landlines, VoIP has rapidly evolved to keep up with not only the demands of customers but also technology that continues to make it a popular communication platform.

How exactly have these services evolved? Here’s a closer look at how VoIP has grown throughout the years.

White conceptual keyboard - VOIP (green key)What Is VoIP and How Does It Work?

Before we get started, let’s have a brief recap of what exactly VoIP and its main functions are.

VoIP is an acronym for voice over Internet protocol, and it transmits voice “data packets” from one IP address to another over the Internet. In short, VoIP allows users to make calls and perform other communication functions, such as voicemail and call forwarding, over the Internet.

When using a VoIP service, your voice is actually converted into digital data (Internet packets) that travel online via fiber optic, DSL or cable lines to another IP address. Through a VoIP connection, you can make and receive calls from your computer, mobile phone or softphone (software) and a headset. There are also a number of VoIP providers who make hardware products that allow you to connect your existing analog phone (base station and two to five handsets) to the device, which then lets you use that phone as you had before.

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 3.26.35 PM

A Brief History of VoIP

Although VoIP is a late 20th-century innovation, it wouldn’t have become a reality if not for the following historic milestones:

  • March 7, 1876: Alexander Graham Bell made the first complete and coherent sentence over a telephone with the famous line, “Mr. Watson, come here; I want you.”
  • November 1963: Rotary phones were replaced after the introduction of touch-tone services by AT&T. “All of the many things we can do by phone — without interacting with a human — got an awful lot easier with the touch-tone,” said Jon Peha, a professor in engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “The introduction allowed you to interact with automated systems on the other end in an easy way.”
  • October 29, 1969: Although  J.C.R. Licklider, a professor at M.I.T., first proposed a “galactic network” of computers that could talk to each other in 1962, the first message over the Internet occurred on this date between UCLA Professor Leonard Kleinrock and his student and programmer, Charley Kline, over the ARPANET, one of the world’s first computer networks.
  • March 1989: Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, shared his vision for what would become the World Wide Web in a document entitled “Information Management: A Proposal.”

1989 was important for another reason as well: It was the year Alon Cohen and Lior Haramaty founded VocalTec. Originally, the company conducted research on how to commercialize products that would provide audio and video capabilities for personal computers and over computer networks.

One of the company’s first products was a PC sound card (SpeechBoard TM) that would assist the visually impaired community in Israel by providing text-to-speech software. The second product was The CAT, which offered audio capabilities for PCs in 1993. This led to the creation of hardware and software that enabled real-time voice conversations over local and wide area computer networks.

On Feb. 10, 1995, the “Internet Phone“ was officially launched with the article “Hello World! Audible Chats on the Internet” in The Wall Street Journal.

Following the release of the first-ever VoIP application, VocalTec would go on to offer Internet voicemail applications in 1996, and computer-to-telephone and telephone-to-telephone calling capacities for VoIP in 1998. By the end of the decade, there were three IP switch manufacturers that introduced VoIP switching software as standard in their routing equipment. VocalTec is now a part of MagicJack after being a part of a reverse takeover in 2010.

In 2000, the peer-to-peer file sharing application Kazaa was founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. These entrepreneurs would launch a beta version of Skype in 2003. The application not only offered voice call features online but also a video chat by using the same type of peer-to-peer networking that Kazaa was built upon.

By relying on peer-to-peer technology, fast and reliable calls could be made to anyone else in the world. The best part was that this could be accomplished for free, and the quality was amazing as well.

Skype was quickly followed by the launch of Vonage in 2001. Founded by Jeffrey A. Citron, Vonage became the first VoIP service platform to offer 911 calls in 2013 and now has more than 2.5 million subscribers worldwide.

Another major player that entered the online telephony market is Google Voice.

Originally founded as GrandCentral by Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet in 2005, Google acquired the company in 2007 and included the service as an add-on for Gmail users so they could check their voicemails through their inbox during beta testing. By 2010, Gmail users could make calls in the U.S. and Canada.

Google Voice has since been integrated into Google+ and Google Hangouts to become its own standalone feature that offers call forwarding, voice and text messaging, and voicemail.

Not to be left out, big cable companies have since entered the VoIP marketplace as well. Despite Cox Communications being the first cable company to provide telecommunication services back in 1993, the largest cable company in the country, Comcast, didn’t begin to offer VoIP services until 2005.

How VoIP Has Evolved

In the early days of VoIP, there were a number of concerns that hindered its adoption, including  poor call quality thanks to dial-up phone connections that couldn’t handle the data traffic. A bigger problem was that these lines were part of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). This meant you couldn’t use the phone and Internet at the same time.

Users resolved this problem by adding a second landline. However, some companies also began to produce equipment that “switched” between the Internet and telephone. For example, if an incoming call came in, you would get kicked offline to answer it.

Thankfully, consumers were able to replace dial-up connections with broadband. In fact, between 2000 and 2001, broadband subscriptions increased by 50%. By 2010, more than 65% of U.S. households were using broadband. For VoIP users, this meant that calls became clearer. It also meant that VoIP could become more flexible and reliable than landlines. VoIP services also became more affordable, and users could contact anyone in the world for next to nothing.

This development opened the door for numerous full-service VoIP systems to enter the market and offer features like unlimited domestic calling, voicemail, web conferencing and faxes that could be handled for one flat monthly rate.

With the usage of mobile devices exploding, VoIP services now allow customers to send or receive phone calls, check their voicemails or host conference calls directly through their smartphone. This means mobility is no longer a challenge for VoIP users.

Even more interesting is the fact that thanks to Bluetooth and near-field communication (NFC), users can connect their VoIP service to smart devices in their home or office. For example, if you have an Ooma Telo, you can initiate calls with Amazon Echo or receive a call or text on your mobile when your Nest smoke alarm goes off. These smart home integrations provide safety and convenience to customers that goes well above and beyond the typical home phone service.

The Future of VoIP

The future of VoIP looks incredibly bright, and the main reason is that the FCC is phasing out

POTS (plain old telephone service) after being pushed by companies like AT&T and Verizon. This means landlines will be completed with Internet Protocol-based systems, and more and more consumers will be able to take advantage of these value-added services.

Considering that 67% of Americans have adopted broadband, along with an increase in “smartphone-only” adults, there really isn’t a need to offer POTS.

Once they’re no longer tied to copper phone lines, users can expect even faster and stronger VoIP services that will simplify communication and keep expenses low.

Furthermore, VoIP has enjoyed a steady increase over the years.

In 2003, VoIP accounted for 25% of all voice calls. Vonage, for example, was able to obtain 1.9 million subscribers by 2006. Within five years, VoIP reached more than 130 million subscribers, and VoIP eclipsed 150 million at the end of 2012.

The number of VoIP subscribers is expected to rise to 1 billion users by the end of 2017. In fact, there’s been a 50% increase in small office/home subscribers between 2011 and 2015. However, the market growth is expected to steadily grow by around 10% from 2016 to 2021.

Finally, between 2011 and 2016, global traffic volume via VoIP has grown more than expected. Research from Statista found:

  • In 2011, 147 petabytes (this is a measure of memory or data storage capacity; a petabyte is 1,000 terabytes) of data were sent using VoIP communications platforms.
  • By 2015, that number had risen to 156 petabytes of data.
  • It’s expected to reach 158 petabytes in 2016.

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Work From Home Optimization Guide – Tips & Apps

Did you know that the number of employees working from home is on the rise? 3.7 million employees, approximately 2.8% of the workforce, operate from home. Since 2005, working at home among the non-self-employed population has grown by 103%. Improved technology, such as high-speed Internet, better video conferencing and more reliable shared drive platforms, has enabled companies to work more with telecommuters than traditional office employees.

work from home optimization guide

Telecommuting is proving itself to be beneficial for both workers and employers. 80% of telecommuters report they now maintain a better work-life balance, and 25% report their stress levels have dropped since leaving the office life. Employees are even saving up to $7,000 annually in transportation and other work-related costs. Meanwhile, employers are also saving, mainly in real estate costs. American Express’ BlueWork program saved the company between $10 and $15 million annually. Aetna saved $78 million per year by having 47% of their employees work from home just a few days a week. In addition to cutting down overhead, telecommuting has also been shown to boost productivity. According to a study monitoring a Chinese travel center, employees working from home actually outperformed their in-office counterparts by up to 13%. Whether you’re working from home five days a week or just one, we have a few tips to help you stay focused and ensure you can optimize your time.

Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have always been foes to productivity. The average time spent on social media continues to rise. In 2013, it was 1.66 hours per day. In 2016, that figure has risen to 1.72 hours per day. Access to social media is costing employers an estimated $650 billion a year in wasted time. While working from home, social media could be more tempting without a supervisor to look over your shoulder. If you find yourself impulsively clicking away every five minutes, try an application like Cold Turkey to help regulate your online usage.

Taking regularly scheduled breaks can also help boost your productivity, focus and creativity. Unfortunately, most workers never seem to get around to it. So how often should you break for? Scientific studies have shown the formula for perfect productivity is to work for 52 minutes, then break for 17 minutes. If you need help getting yourself on schedule, try the app DeskTime.

The place you work also significantly impacts your output. Researchers have found that a cluttered workplace restricts your brain’s ability to focus and process information. The time spent looking for misplaced items at our messy workspaces adds up to 76 hours each year, which translates to two weeks of work, and can cost companies upwards of $177 billion annually. It’s time for you to clear out your desk. We highly recommend throwing away all non-essential items from your work area and storing away everything else.

Don’t get too comfy; sitting is being called the new smoking. Much like smoking, sitting for 8 to 11 hours daily is harmful to your health. In fact, sitting for most of your workday actually increases your chances of dying by up to 15% in four years. We recommend an adjustable standing desk, such as the Varidesk, is the solution that offers the best of both worlds. If you must sit, we suggest the highly ergonomic Herman Miller Aeron chair. Think they are too expensive? Not really.

Lighting also plays a fundamental role in impacting our behavior. Studies have reported that workers in offices with windows had better-regulated circadian rhythms, achieving 46 more minutes of sleep per night. Sleep is vital to our work. With a lack of it, people tend to suffer from all sorts of other problems that could hurt their performance, such as memory loss, slower psychomotor reflexes, depression and shorter attention spans. A solution would be to use as much natural lighting as possible. Verifone reported a 5% increase in productivity by switching to natural lighting, and total product output increased by 25% to 28%. If your workspace is not located near a window, try an artificial lighting solution such as LIFX.

Another tool proven to boost creativity is ambient sound. Findings have shown that the right level of background noise can help block out distractions and also trigger the brain to think abstractly to get into a more creative space. When tested on creativity, subjects were shown to perform best with moderate ambient noise at 70 decibels, far exceeding their counterparts working with noise levels up to 50 dB and 80 dB. Perhaps this is why so many writers choose to work from their local coffee shops. If you want a great app to create that ideal mix of ambient sound to help you get in the zone, try Coffitivity.

We all know drinking coffee and taking naps have been proven to boost productivity. What if you tried them both together? You actually can with the coffee nap. Drink a cup of coffee, then take a 20-minute nap immediately after. That may sound unusual to you, but consider that it takes at least 20 minutes for caffeine to affect your body. During this time, you could get a quick rest before waking up just as the caffeine is starting to kick in, thereby maximizing alertness for double the impact.

Finally, your appearance plays an essential role in how you feel about yourself, which impacts how productive you are. In a roleplay scenario that involved the sale of a hypothetical asset, men wearing business suits yielded an average profit of $2.1 million compared to the $680,000 of their casually dressed counterparts wearing sweat suits. More formal clothing influences just how people are construed. In another test, subjects who wore a white lab coat performed better on the Stroop task sensory card test. Just because you are working from home does not mean it is acceptable to stay in your underwear all day.

So those are a few tips to help you optimize your telecommuting experience. It’s time to get back to work.

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Decir ¿Bueno?: Ooma Premier Suscriptores en los Estados Unidos Ahora Pueden Disfrutar de Llamadas Gratis a México


Nuestro servicio Ooma Premier se ha puesto mucho mejor con la adición de llamadas ilimitadas a teléfonos fijos y móviles en México. Las llamadas gratuitas a México se une a las muchas funciones avanzadas como el bloqueo de las llamadas de mercadeo, textos al servicio 911 y alertas de llamadas, correo de voz a correo electrónico, diferentes sonidos de llamadas y filtrado de llamadas, entre otras funciones.

Clientes Ooma Telo realizan decenas de miles de llamadas a México cada mes y ahora los suscriptores del servicio Premier pueden disfrutar de estar en contacto con cualquier persona en México de forma gratuita.

Además de llamadas gratuitas a México, los suscriptores del servicio Premier ya disfrutan de llamadas ilimitadas a teléfonos fijos y móviles en Canadá. Para los clientes que hacen llamadas internacionales, Ooma ofrece tarifas bajas por minuto a países en todo el mundo, y para los clientes que llaman con frecuencia a destinos donde las tarifas son más altas, Ooma ofrece un plan por $ 17.99 al mes para llamadas ilimitadas a más de 60 países en todo el mundo.

Construido sobre una plataforma de tecnología innovadora, el servicio inteligente de teléfono en casa de Ooma combina todas las características de un teléfono tradicional con la seguridad que las familias esperan:

  • Las alertas de nido hacen que la casa de un cliente con el servicio de Ooma sea más segura alertándolos en su dispositivo móvil cada vez que se active su alarma de humo + monóxido de carbono ™ o de fuego.
  • 911 y la función de texto del 911 da mayor tranquilidad ya que puede acelerar la comunicación crítica durante una situación de emergencia en el hogar, especialmente para los más vulnerables, como los niños y los ancianos.
  • Las posibilidades de que los despachadores del 911 encuentren a víctimas basado en el GPS del teléfono celular puede ser tan bajo como el 10% en algunas partes del país y un teléfono fijo como Ooma da a los padres la tranquilidad sabiendo que los despachadores llegarán a sus hogares rápidamente en un caso de una emergencia, todo ello sin el alto costo de un teléfono fijo estándar.
  • La función del bloqueo de llamadas protege a los consumidores contra las molestas llamadas telefónicas automáticas, incluso aquellos que no están bloqueados por la Lista Nacional de No Llamar, como llamadas de organizaciones de caridad y de partidos políticos. Con la elección presidencial 2016 en marcha, Ooma espera que los consumidores reciban un número sin precedentes de estas llamadas telefónicas automáticas en los próximos meses.

¿Tienes curiosidad por averiguar qué otros trucos Ooma Telo puede hacer? Haga clic aquí para obtener más información.

Cutting the Cord Beyond Cable

In recent years, more and more people have been dropping their cable packages in favor of streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. Why pay for a hundred extra channels you don’t want when you can cherry-pick your favorite TV shows and movies for a fraction of the price? Why stop at the cable cord? There are several thriftier options in other areas of your life as well. Let’s explore how you could step away from the traditional way of doing things and cut the cord beyond cable.

Cutting the Cord Beyond Cable


The cost of the average monthly cable bill in the United States is $99 a month. The average number of channels you receive for that $99 is 189. If we break down the figures, that means you are paying 52¢ per channel. But how many of those cable channels are you actually watching regularly? For most Americans, the answer is a paltry 17; that’s 172 cable channels that aren’t even being seen! You’re paying a whopping $89.44 on the channels you are not even watching. If you were to opt for the top streaming services: Netflix ($10), Hulu ($7.99), Amazon Prime ($8.25) and HBO Now ($15), your total would come out to $41.24 — less than half the cost of your average cable bill.

You could save with your commute too. If you’re an average driver, you put 15,000 miles on your car per year; that’s 41 miles per day. With the average gas price at $2.23 per gallon, you are probably spending $3.87 per day to drive your gas-powered vehicle. The alternative is an electric vehicle that can go 60 miles on a single charge. With electricity at roughly 12¢ per kWh, that would cut your cost to $2.46 per day. This difference in cost could save you $1.41 per day and up to $473.76 annually.

You can also save on your home power needs. A tankless water heater will save you $300 per year. Insulating your home could save as much as $6,000 on heating bills. Solar panels could also save you up to 50% or 60% annually on energy bills.

Savings can also be found in the workplace. Telecommuting can save both employees and employers, as the average office space is $33,345 to rent while the average commute time is 22.8 minutes a day, equivalent to $621 per year. A virtual office solution, such as Podio or Trello, can outright eliminate these costs.

Let’s take this cord-cutting approach to our phone services. The average cost of a landline is $35 a month while the average cost of a cell phone bill is $73 a month. With Ooma, you could make unlimited nationwide calls over the Internet for just $3.99 a month. You’d be saving more than $30 a month with Ooma as your landline alternative.

You may be wondering why in this day and age of cellular technology we are still talking about landlines. Unfortunately, when it comes to 911 calls, mobile devices are not ideal. The failure rate for dispatchers to determine a caller’s GPS location is alarming across several states, such as Colorado (42%), Texas (67%), Virginia (71%), California (63%) and Washington, D.C. (90%). 911 was specifically designed to transmit a caller’s precise location over a hard-wired connection. This becomes problematic when 45% of Americans opt out of landline coverage and 70% of all 911 calls are made via cell phone. Ooma offers a reliable and cost-effective Internet-based alternative that could save tens of thousands of lives with its E911 services. With Ooma, 911 will always be able to find you, and your loved ones will be texted immediately whenever 911 is dialed. This guaranteed security at times when every second counts could be yours for only $3.99 a month with Ooma. That’s less than a Netflix subscription.

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Say ¿Bueno?: Ooma Premier Subscribers in the U.S. Can Now Enjoy Free Calls to Mexico

International_Facebook_Ads_v7_MexicoOur Ooma Premier service just got even better with the addition of unlimited calls to landlines and mobile phones in Mexico. Free calling to Mexico joins the many advanced Premier features like blacklisting telemarketers, 911 text and call alerts, voicemail-to-email, multi-ring, call screening and more.

Ooma Telo customers place tens of thousands of calls to Mexico each month and now premier subscribers can enjoy staying in touch with anyone in Mexico for free.

In addition to free calling to Mexico, Premier subscribers already enjoy unlimited calls to landlines and mobile phones in Canada. For customers who call internationally, Ooma offers everyday low rates on a per-minute basis to countries worldwide, and for customers who frequently call higher cost destinations Ooma’s World Plan for $17.99 per month offers unlimited calling to over 60 countries worldwide.

Built on an innovative technology platform, Ooma’s smart home phone service combines all of the features of a traditional home phone with smart home safety features families have come to expect:

• Nest Alerts makes an Ooma customer’s home safer by alerting them on their mobile device whenever their Nest Protect: Smoke + Carbon Monoxide™ alarm detects the presence of smoke or fire.

• 911 and the 911 Text Alert feature, provides added peace of mind because it can accelerate critical communications during a home emergency situation, especially for those most vulnerable, like children and the elderly. The chances of 911 dispatchers being able to find a victim based on their cell phone’s GPS can be as low as 10% in some parts of the country and a smart home phone like Ooma give parents peace of mind knowing dispatchers will reach their homes quickly in the event of an emergency, all without the high cost of standard landlines.

• Call blocking feature protect consumers against pesky spam and robocalls, even those not blocked by the National Do Not Call List, like charity and political calls. With the 2016 Presidential Election underway, Ooma expects consumers to receive a record number of these annoying robocalls over the next several months.

Curious to find out what other tricks Ooma Telo can do? Click here to find out more.