Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Asterisk@Home - Oh The Genius Of It!

I've been reading up on Asterisk@Home lately. This year, I've to do my honors engineering thesis in order to graduate, but first I've got to get one of my professors agree to supervise my thesis. Its much easier to get their agreement if the topic is in one of their area of expertise or interest.

I've always dreamed of doing something different, something exceptional with my thesis, like build a better satellite navigational system or something. But then I found out my thesis becomes the property of the university once I complete it. No point trying to find the cure for cancer for someone else, so to speak.

One more thing I've realized is I really don't need a university to back my research. I can build something in my own home on my own time. Thats one good thing about Technology. Its such a commodity that you don't need a univeristy or major corporation to back your research as opposed to other areas like Physics, Chemistry or Medicine. Any guy in his garage can build the next Google, Dell or Microsoft.

Anyway, getting back to my story, one of the professors put up an idea on the course website to build an advanced application that uses Asterisk@Home. By this, he means he wants more than just configure Asterisk@Home. He wants us to come up with an idea to build a hardware or software that will use Asterisk@Home. I think I may choose this as my thesis. VOIP is a hot topic, plus the topic is already pre-approved by the professor AND it gives me enough freedom to do what I want as long as it uses Asterisk@Home somewhere.

One of my idea is to build a Security Alert System. Basically its an application that will monitor webcams around the house by means of video conferencing. When it notices anything (using MIT MARS PathFinder technology), it will send out an alarm by placing a VOIP call to you or the police. The video of couse will be recorded.

What I find most interesting about Asterisk@Home is the genius of it. I'm not talking about the PBX or VOIP. That technology's been available since before 2000. But what the software achieves. Digium initially build PCI cards to connect PSTN trunk lines to PC. There was no market for these cards since other VOIP PBX products were available from companies such as CISCO and Seimens.

So they wrote Asterisk@Home which natively supports their card and released it to the open source community who then ran with it. Asterisk@Home doesn't need Digium card to run, but buying one will let the owner take full advantage of the capabilities of Asterisk@Home by connecting it to phone lines. Digium simply created an artificial demand for their product by Asterisk@Home. Oh, the genius of it.

1 comment:

pipsqueak said...

fix my PBX! i just dont have the time for it.