Top 10 tricks you didn’t know Asterisk could do

Today’s category from the home office: top ten tricks you didn’t know Asterisk could do. If you’re living with a phone system from the prior century, you might not be aware of what is possible today with Asterisk. If you’re already “in the know,” thanks for playing along.

10. Connect to enterprise directories
Asterisk can authenticate users against your LDAP server, Lotus Domino Directory, Apple OpenDirectory, or even Microsoft ActiveDirectory.

9. Connect using Google Voice and GTalk
Use Google’s services with Asterisk to send and receive free calls with other Google users and plain-old telephones, too.

8. Calendar integration
Have your Asterisk server call you to remind you of your next meeting, or even automatically join you with your next conference call right on time. The Asterisk calendaring API is compatible with iCalendar, CalDAV, and Exchange.

7. Distributed device state with Jabber/XMPP
The popular instant-messaging protocol to share device state across multiple systems and sites. All your branch offices in one busy lamp field!

On the silly side, change the pitch of a call with the PITCH_SHIFT function, or reroute call audio through wacky signal processors using JACK.

5. Voicemail-email integration
Asterisk has long been able to email you voicemail messages as attachments, but did you know it can natively store your voicemail messages in IMAP? Unify your email and voicemail, no charge.

4. Speak!
Asterisk offers native integration to leading text-to-speech (TTS) and automatic speech recognition (ASR) software. Let Asterisk speak to you, and understand your answer!

3. Database integration
Without special licenses or extra layers, Asterisk can use an ODBC-compatible database to authenticate users and to store call logs. Make user management and reporting a breeze.

2. Queue games with Asterisk
Some unconventional Asterisk administrators changed the behavior of their call queues. Now instead waiting your turn while listening to plastic versions of yesterday’s hits, callers interact with a real-time quiz game. Miss one and you could be knocked to the back of the line. Answer correctly and move ahead of the people ahead of you. Or do something less challenging, such as allow queue callers to hang up and be called back when it’s their turn.

1. Super-wideband audio support
Asterisk has always been able to use a variety of audio encodings, but the latest enhancements go far beyond the typical telephone sound. Version 10 supports CD-quality audio (16-bit, 44.1kHz) all the way up to even the highest-quality Blu-ray and DTS-HD audio rates at 192kHz. High-fidelity phone calls!

Do you have a favorite that wasn’t mentioned? Share it in the comments! To learn more about what Asterisk can do, visit the Asterisk wiki.

Many of these were borrowed from a popular presentation by Leif Madsen, an Asterisk Consultant, Issue Marshal, and past presenter at AstriCon


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