The search for the Death Star that will destroy illegal robocalls once and for all is still underway, but the solution is one step closer. The FTC just announced that judges have selected winners in Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back, a contest to come up with tech tools to further the fight against annoying pre-recorded calls. The winner: a mobile app that blocks and forwards robocalls to a crowd-sourced honeypot. But the contest has broader implications for business.
If you run into Ethan Garr or Bryan Moyles, congratulate them on winning the $25,000 first prize and offer them a big thank you for RoboKiller, an app that uses audio-fingerprint technology and call forwarding to identify robocalls. Kudos to second place winner Hemant Sengar, who won $10,500 for his proposal, which also uses audio analytics.
In addition, judges determined the winners of the FTC’s DetectaRobo analytic challenge, hosted in connection with the National Day of Civic Hacking in June. Contestants analyzed data from an existing robocall honeypot and developed algorithms to identify which were likely to be robocalls. The Champion RoboSleuth was Team HaV. The title of Master RoboSleuth went to Team Milibo and Team RDAC.
Why should this matter to your company? When marketing methods go bad – and illegal robocalls are Example #1 – it’s bad for business. Reputable companies don’t use illegal robocalls and shouldn’t have to compete against fraudsters that do.
But there’s good news, too. Law enforcement efforts against robocall violators continue, of course, but we think Humanity Strikes Back is an example of how government and tech entrepreneurs can work together on a parallel track toward practical crowd-sourced solutions. Contest winners retain the IP right to what they develop – and we hope their innovations result in billions of blocked calls.