Since VoIP was first debuted in Israel in 1995, VoIP technologies have changed the way people communicate. VoIP removes many of the barriers associated with long distance and international calling that cause wire line service to be so expensive; you can get VoIP for regular landline service in any home or office for as low as $5/month for a line.
Related: See what our VOIP providers can offer you
Each year, developers find even more innovative ways to use VoIP to improve existing technologies, or to debut completely new devices. Here are some of the coolest technologies available that star VoIP.
The LEGO Mindstorms NXT in 2006 is a programmable robot that you can build, design, and control. According to Electricpig, last year's CES (2012) brought with it a VoIP powered Lego NXT, which uses Skype to allow users to watch and control the robot using IP video.
While the toy may be a little too expensive for most parents to buy for their kids, and has little use in the office, the introduction of the gadget indicates that VoIP may hold an interesting role in developments of remotely controlled robotic systems.
Many business VoIP providers offer mobile apps and extensions for smartphones and mobile devices. With these apps and extensions, customers can send and receive VoIP calls through their mobile devices without using up cell phone minutes -- see how you can Save Big with the Best VoIP Mobile Apps.
Customers just need access to WiFi or a 3G or 4G network. These apps and extensions have the same free and cheap calling features as landline VoIP services.
IP-Enabled Landline Picture Display Phones
At CES 2013, Ooma debuted a new IP home phone with picture display. The phone syncs up with the user's Facebook, imports contacts and displays caller avatars. However, this phone does not offer video chatting.
IP landline phones have been around for a while, and there are lots of great options available on the market. Cisco, for example, offers several models with picture display, like the 9971 model, that allow video conferencing directly from the handset.
Many people avoid IP conferencing solutions for fear of the associated price tags, but these phones with built in cameras allow customers to buy one device, a single phone, rather than a phone, a camera, a dedicated monitor, etc.
Industrial-Strength and Rugged VoIP
Rugged cell phones have been on the market for a long time, but recently, VoIP rugged phones have also been thrown into the mix. Rugged phones are an ideal VoIP hardware for people who will be in dangerous or high-intensity environments like white water rafters, mountain climbers, industrial workers, or researchers working in extreme weather conditions.
This expansion into VoIP rugged technologies may be an indication of improved Internet connectivity in previously unreachable areas.
IP Surveillance and Intercom Systems
People who are interested in installing surveillance or intercom systems in their business can now benefit from cheap VoIP technologies. Many hardware manufacturers like Grandstream, and Valcom produce security cameras, pagers, and speakers that are easy to integrate into IP paging and surveillance systems.
It can be very expensive to install security and paging systems in a building, but VoIP devices, it's easy to get a surveillance or paging system up and running quickly and with lower monthly service costs.
VoIP providers have been extremely successful with the expansion into security systems, as evidenced by the fact that many military and government organizations have also begun to convert to VoIP systems. This is a credit to VoIP's security and reliability in environments with high-security and safety protocols.