ZVRS Reveals VRS with iPhone4

Over 200 folks gathered at the Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia on July 7, 2010 for a private event hosted by ZVRS. Tim Rarus took the stage and talked about the history of video relay service. “In the old days before the TTY,” he explained, “if you wanted to make an appointment with your doctor, you either had to find a neighbor to make a phone call or drive to the doctor’s office to make the appointment.”

Now… imagine…  today…

“You reach in your pocket and pull out your iPhone4 and you make a call using video relay.  Yes, today, it is now possible with ZVRS to make a video relay call!”

Three people from the audience, including Gallaudet president, Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, made historical video relay calls from the stage.  It was absolutely amazing to watch each of them communicate via using a cell phone– how many of us have dreamed of that day?  The day is here!

Quoted in the Apple Insider: Apple Insider Article

Quoted in the MacApper: MacApper Article

Quoted in the Today’s iPhone:  Today’s iPhone

Engaget Article:  Engaget

6 replies
  1. John M.
    John M. says:

    Actually I went to the launch party for ZVRS in Las Vegas. I was extremely disappointed by this new iPhone 4 service. My wife and I both have an iPhone 4 and we were really looking forward to this release.

    ZVRS has intentionally and almost completely mislead all of us in the following points:

    – Where’s the app? iZ isn’t an application it’s just a phone number to dial ZVRS on your iPhone. At the launch party before the announcement the representatives there kept telling me there will be an app released on July 26th. After the demo even the reps were confused. Ultimately I learned there would not be an app at al. WTH?

    – Since there is no iPhone app, I was appalled by the method ZVRS used to create this “service” it is VRS on iPhone in the most basic form, mostly a manual process. You have to call the number 866-32FACE-1. Then once you are connected to ZVRS via FaceTime you have to give them a phone number to dial. Did we jump back into the early 2000?

    – You have to dial a real number using the iPhone’s phone app. This is serious ignorance on ZVRS’s part in requiring us to actually call a phone number using our iPhone that actually connects and counts against your cellular minutes until the FaceTime invitation arrives. Once you connect via FaceTime you’re safe on the WiFi network and won’t be billed for minutes. Most of us Deafies are on TAP plan, this means that for every call you will be charged $0.40 per minute. If you have regular plans your minutes will be used till FaceTime is initiated. So your VRS calls will not be free, each time you call ZVRS you will be CHARGED AT LEAST $0.40 (TAP plan)!! No thanks.

    – ZVRS claims to be the first to bring VRS to iPhone. They really wanted to be the first, even at the cost of total B.S.. They were the first to say they were the first but failed to deliver an actual product first. As far as I know InterWest Relay was the first to release an iPhone app that is actually available in the app store and by the way their app does not touch your cellular minutes at all, AND you don’t have to manually give the interpreter the number you want to call. Far more impressive (I don’t work for IW Relay, I discovered them in the LV Expo nice new company).

    -There have been a lot of hype about ZVRS, AT&T, and Apple “partnering” to bring iZ to the deaf community. I saw no evidence of this relationship. In fact, this is a joke, absolutely ANYONE can do what “iZ” does overnight without a “special partnership” with Apple and ATT. In order to truely manipulate FaceTime Apple needs to open the API to allow developers to integrate it into their apps. This hasn’t happened yet and most other VRS providers are waiting for this. I thought that with the “partnership” Z was able to tap into the API with special permission… Nope.

    – ZVRS claims that you can call “anytime and anywhere” calling this the “true” mobile VRS. This is where I was also expecting the “special partnership” with Apple and ATT to come in. I was hoping that they somehow opened the door for 3G calling which enables true mobility. At the launch party I was really hoping for this or at least some kind of agreement for a cheaper plan for the deaf or something that puts a stamp on the partnership. Nothing, and umm, most of us considers WiFi pretty limited. They need to re-evaluate their definition of Mobile because this isn’t quite there yet.

    So that’s my personal opinion and review of iZ. Don’t get me wrong, I’m VERY GLAD someone is working on this and have some kind of option. I just think that ZVRS just really blew it out of proportion here, over hyped something that’s pretty much barebones. The party was great though! But the thing they announced was lazy, misleading, and even severely disappointing. I think they’ve really lost such a great opportunity. Yes they made it possible for VRS on iPhone but all they’ve done was make their competitors go, “That’s it? We can do that tomorrow! But we won’t we’re going to completely do better.”

    I talked to a lot of other providers at the expo about the iZ, none were impressed and promised to do much much better. Before the launch, many admitted that ZVRS was lucky to have some special connection with Apple and ATT but at the end of the week they are all scratching their heads and rolling their eyes. Sorry ZVRS, being first isn’t always best.

    John M.

  2. Tim Rarus
    Tim Rarus says:

    A message from the CEO of The Z™

    As all of you know, we are very excited about iPhone 4, and you can now use it to place ZVRS calls. We are proud to have provided the first public iPhone call on July 7, 2010. Alan Hurwitz, president of Gallaudet University, called me in front of a crowd of about 400 people at the Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia. It was thrilling to be a part of such a historic moment. Now, it seems there is some confusion out there regarding ZVRS on iPhone 4, and I’d like to clear things up.

    Where do I find the ZVRS app for iPhone 4?
    The Z™ uses FaceTime to process ZVRS calls on iPhone 4. FaceTime is an Apple software feature built into every iPhone 4. There is no better mobile video software in the world. Right now, you do not download an app to access ZVRS on iPhone 4. You dial 866.323.2231 (866.32FACE1) to connect your iPhone 4 to ZVRS.
    At this time, you may, indeed, be charged 40¢ per minute when you dial this number to connect to the ZVRS interpreter, depending on your AT&T service plan. However, this will soon change, because we are currently putting the finishing touches on a new ZVRS app. This exciting new app is scheduled to be released mid-August and will make it even easier to use ZVRS on your iPhone 4.

    Did Apple and AT&T partner with The Z™ to provide this service?
    Apple has no formal relationship with The Z™. However, they did, indeed, support both of our ZVRS on iPhone 4 demos at the NAD conference in Philadelphia and DeafNation World Expo in Las Vegas. They are excited about what we are doing. (Just a great company, Apple, helping out the deaf community and The Z™.) With regard to AT&T, again, we currently have no formal relationship. But stay tuned, because we certainly would like to work closer with AT&T, and there are people at AT&T that are excited about what we are doing, as well.

    Sean Belanger

  3. John M.
    John M. says:

    Thanks for the response Tim, I’m looking forward to the app. For future references please make sure you’re represenatives are all on the same page, it was absolute chaos when they were not prepared at all for answering quations about the iPhone also a few videos online such as one from Roger Vass was misleading as well and contradicts with your statement above. If you came out in the beginning with the information above you would not have created so much confusion.

    Other than that kudos to ZVRS for initiating the progress towards true mobility. This is surely going to get interesting to see what happens with Purple’s announcement and similar products from other providers.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] P.S. Karen Putz, of A Deaf Mom Shares Her World who works for ZVRS published her blog with more information and PICTURES of different people who tried this new product. Go and read her blog here. […]

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