PBXact: Unexpected Magic

If you were keeping an eye on the realm of open source PBX offerings you might be lulled into thinking that there is Digium with Asterisk and Switchvox, then everyone else. Where “everyone else” was basically hobbyists and Freeswitch fanatics. Well, that’s easy to understand, but you’d be wrong. I know that I was.

TMC recently posted an interview with Tony Lewis of Schmooze Communications. I know, I know…how do you take a company with a name like that seriously? It’s just one step above Goober Networks..oh,wait…they’re a real player, too! Well, what’s in a name?

Until today Schmooze Communications didn’t mean anything to me. However, I was enlightened by Michael White from E4 Technologies who is distributing  Schmooze Communications‘ product….PBXact.

Like so many others, PBXact is a PBX built upon Asterisk, but unlike a lot of the Asterisk crowd it differentiates itself by way of an extended feature set with some novel ideas.

What’s that mean exactly? I find myself quite taken by the idea of their “Magic Button” feature. Any decent PBX can do IVR, or even IVR with speech recognition for caller responses. PBXact turns that around so that the speech recognition technology can be used to engage the PBX in common calling functions. Touch the Magic Button on your phone, then say “call extension 2004” and it does!

This “magical” capability extends to a lot of the systems capabilities, from simple call control to altering presence status and VM functions. They have a couple of nice recorded examples of this in action on the companies web site. This feature seems similar to Microsoft’s ill-fated Response Point system, except that it remains on an open source foundation.

Schmooze has worked to achieve close integration of the PBX, speech recognition engine and the phones themselves. They have worked closely with Aastra Telecom using the XML-based interface to their phones, including the brilliant new Aastra 6739i.

Have you not heard of the Aastra 6739i? It’s the new desktop SIP phone that has the VUC’s Karl Fife all a-twitter.

The Aastra 6739i features a large, color, touch-screen LCD display, Bluetooth and an XML interface that opens up all kinds of possibilities…which is where PBXact comes into play. PBXact leverages the strength of the Aastra XML interface, marrying it with a mature, stable and extensible PBX platform.

While the Magic Button is cute, PBXact has a laundry list of other capabilities. They offer a desktop console application called XactView, Outlook integration and FAX capability called XactFax.

If XactView feels familiar that stems from the fact that the developers at Schmooze are amongst the more active ones working on FreePBX. They have taken the experience of working on FreePBX and built their XactView offering to compliment the capabilities of PBXact.

It’s funny how sometimes a contender seems to come from out of nowhere. PBXact seems like that.

BTW, to promote PBXact distributor E4 Technologies is giving away an XactFax option with every PBXact system ordered in May.

Disclosure: E4 Technologies sponsors the VoIP Users Conference. In recognition of this fact, and the excellent service that I have personally received from them, I send them link traffic where they offer the devices that I am mentioning.