It’s probably safe to say that with some of our friends, we communicate with them almost exclusively via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. While these networks are fine for sending typed messages and photos, however, there are times when the sound of someone’s voice is much more appropriate. Video is one alternative, although many people are uncomfortable appearing on camera. That’s why four graduates from the School of Informatics at Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya created uWhisp – it’s a plug-in for use on existing social networks, that lets users send prerecorded voice messages.
The team developed the application while they were still students at UPC, after they questioned why voice messages couldn’t be sent instantaneously on social networks, like photos and videos can be.
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Once installed in a user’s account, the app shows up as a widget on their browser. When they use it, they start by recording a message, which is stored in the form of a local audio file. Using the application’s player function, they can then play the message back, to make sure that it’s to their liking. Once they approve it, it is stored on the uWhisp servers, and the user can post it to the person of their choice.
What the recipient receives is in fact a link, that the plug-in on their account converts into a player. Should the recipient not use uWhisp themselves, the link will instead take them to the uWhisp website, where the message (which is known as a “whisp”) can be heard.
Although sites like Facebook are an obvious focus for the technology, the system works with any website that accepts typed text. Video-messaging capability is in the works, as are iPhone and Android apps.
In its first three weeks of operation, uWhisp has been downloaded over 6,000 times, and over 10,000 whisps have been stored on its servers. The basic version is free, although a Premium account is also available, which offers some extra features.