If you don’t know what a robocall is, consider yourself lucky. Robocalls are the next generation of telemarketers, but instead of a human being calling homes one by one from a nondescript office building, Robocalls are automated sales pitches that target cellphones at a rate of thousands of calls per minute.
This problem has troubled the Federal Trade Commission, which has been fielding more complaints than the 02 Arena after Justin Bieber showed up late for a performance in London. Unable to solve the problem alone, the FTC threw up its hands and offered a $50,000 prize to anyone who could stop the swarm of unwanted calls.
There were two winners of the FTC “Robocall Challenge” who split the $50,000 prize. One of them, Aaron Foss, joined us to discuss his creation, Nomorobo.
Simply put, Nomorobo automatically recognizes an incoming robocall before your phone rings, intercepts it and hangs up before your phone rings. It’s like the Israeli Iron Dome for unwanted calls.
“You know when you were a kid and your house phone rings and everyone runs to answer it at the same time and someone says, ‘It’s for me, hang up’ that exists in the phone system right now,” Foss explains. “What I thought, well what if one of those phones that picked up that looked at it and if it was a robocall would answer it before anyone else even goes to the phone.”
No public release date has been set for Nomorobo but we do know that Foss, not the FTC, will retain ownership of the service.