Optus Launches the O-Team and a Creepy Call Transcription Feature

Optus Launches the O-Team and a Creepy Call Transcription Feature
Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution

Optus has on Wednesday announced a new team of special operatives, charged with making your home smart. Well, they’ve launched Optus Smart Spaces and an initiative they’re calling the O-Team, to help roll out their smart home tech. Oh, and the telco has also launched Call Notes, a feature that live translates your calls, which isn’t at all creepy.

Let’s start with this O-Team thing.

Optus will be offering customers what it has called a ‘curated range of smart devices’ from Amazon, Google, Ring and Eero. These are available in what the telco is calling ‘collections’ (packaged devices, essentially) that work together as part of an ‘ecosystem around security, entertainment, working from home and business’.

“Currently, big box retailers lead smart devices sales, however there’s no clear provider Australians can turn to for Smart Spaces support,” Optus VP of TV, content and product development Clive Dickens said during the telco’s 2021 Business Briefing update on Wednesday.

“We know customers feel confused as to what devices to buy, which devices work together and how to install the devices.  And who to call for their smart device support.”

According to Dickens, the value is in this whole O-Team thing (read: customer support).

“The key differentiator to our Smart Spaces is what we call the O-Team, dedicated installation and support experts who customers can tap into to get help designing, installing and troubleshooting their Smart Space needs, remotely online, or in person at their home, or their office,” he added.

Call Notes, creepy or useful?

Optus went on an announcement rampage Wednesday, so in addition to Smart Spaces and the O-Team, the telco also announced a new phone call function – Call Notes.

Call Notes is Optus’ latest ‘Living Network’ innovation. The TL;DR is that Call Notes transcribes mobile calls in real time and makes the transcript available in the My Optus App.

“With a simple voice command, Call Notes will take notes in real time, and store those conversations securely, making day to day tasks that little bit easier,” Optus MD of marketing and revenue Matt Williams said.

Yes, creepy, but also yes, useful. At least as a journalist it is.

But there’s a tonne of privacy considerations and during Q&A on Wednesday, Williams said he reckons Optus has privacy under control.

“We’ve taken a great deal of care around the design of Call Notes to make sure we are respecting our customers’ privacy and really enabling them to get this great benefit of that product and that service, but make sure that we don’t cause any concerns around that,” he said.

“Of course we have worked through all of the regulatory obligations across all the states … these are [the customer’s] notes, we will transcribe the notes and we will immediately transfer the notes to their My Optus App on their device and then delete those notes from our system.

“As Optus, we don’t retain any version of those notes at all … the customer has complete control.”

Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin also added that it won’t come as a surprise to people they’re being recorded, as there’s a notification that requires all parties to confirm they agree to being recorded.