The app, developed by Telemar’s associate company Buniq, combines instant messaging, VoIP, and what it calls a ‘Smart social network Hub’ to synchronise and connect to contacts on the smartphone and across a range of different social media channels, such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
The product is optimised for use with satellite communications systems, and will be aimed at the commercial maritime, leisure and fishery segments.
“We have started to use toctoc and find that it can support the daily experience both on shore and on board for communications and social networking, for both private life and corporate-oriented usage,” said Salvatore d’Amico, fleet director at d'Amico Shipping Group.
“We are excited to introduce toctoc in order to reduce the communications expenses for staff and to boost their possibilities. With reference to the app capabilities, we are keen, among others, on the optimisation of the use of satellite (bandwidth), as well as on the option of using each mobile number as an extension of the company PBX at toctoc conditions, ideal for all workers in mobility including superintendents and managers.”
“With regard to the costs, one 10-minute-long international call to India when a seafarer is on land can cost about US$6 – with toctoc the same 10 minutes, using a personal smartphone, costs zero to toctoc users or a few cents (USD) when calling a landline or a mobile one.”
Telemar says that the toctoc application will be made available in both the Apple App Store and on Google Play, and the company is planning to make it available on the Global Xpress service enablement platform (SEP) at launch.
The system developers say that toctoc should also soon be able to manage the exchange and sharing of files and documents, as well as photos, audio and videos from the user’s own social network, privately and through an ‘enhanced cloud’.
The company aims to secure “several patents” in relation to the technology used, including an algorithm for a “semantic social search engine.”
“On the one hand, officers and superintendents need to be connected anywhere, on board and on shore, to corporate networks in order to improve operational productivity through the transfer of real-time data information as well as of added regulatory requirements; on the other, shipping companies face increasing difficulties in attracting qualified personnel,” said Gennaro Faella, corporate business development and operations coordinations director of the Telemar Group, and co-founder of toctoc.
“Long periods at sea in rough conditions make crew welfare a top priority; crew usage accounts for around 80 per cent satellite capacity on a ship and seafarers are increasingly hungry for voice/video communications on personal devices, for social network and messaging applications, as they are increasingly accustomed to do so on shore, also due to personnel demographics. Toctoc meets, innovatively, all these needs.”
Telemar says that Toctoc works with all maritime broadband systems and communications management ‘boxes’ on board, and should not require substantial additional costs for hardware, installation and software for users that have broadband systems with large data packages.
The company will officially launch the application at the SMM exhibition in Hamburg in September 2014.