A.Boffin | 04.11.2005 14:44 | Technology
As they describe it, the handset checks the incoming number against a list of numbers that are "allowed" to perform this override. After a certain number of rings, the call is answered automatically and can start to listen in on what's going on.
There's lots of reassuring noise about childminders and emergency situations but the disturbing bit (for me anyway) is Claim 10 of the Patent, US20050227671A1 ( http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220050227671%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20050227671&RS=DN/20050227671) where the components of the system are described:
"means for receiving a call; means for diverting the call to a voice mail feature if the call is not answered within a pre-set number of rings; means for monitoring the keypad entries input by the calling party; means for determining if the keypad entries input by the calling party match a pre-set code; if the keypad entries input by the calling party match the pre-set code, means for returning control of the call to the mobile phone; and means for automatically answering the call."
Notice that there's no mention here of the "white list" of allowed callers that makes up the bulk of the document. Stripped of the patentese, they've invented a way of allowing a caller to enter a code that will allow them to escape the Voicemail and force the phone to autmoatically pick up.