applied sci-fi (was Re: New Open Hardware company)

Werner Almesberger werner at
Sun Jul 26 01:23:34 CEST 2009

[ Changed the subject, for we've veered off-topic. ]

pike wrote:
> So, what did science fiction *miss* ?

Actually, very little :) One thing that could make voice telecommunication
a lot more attractive would be an avatar who "listens" and "understands".
Voice mail makes many people uncomfortable because they don't get none of
feedback that normally accompanies a conversation. Even voice telephony
has that kind of problem to some extent, particularly with large
end-to-end delay.

A possible improvement would be some sort of avatar that provides these
clues and fools the speaker into feeling as if he or she was talking to a
real human being. Determining how all this might work would need a bit of
research, though. TV fakes continuous motion, MP3 fakes a loss-less
reproduction, so I wouldn't be surprised if we couldn't fake a human
listener as well with less effort than dragging a real human to the phone.

Okay, that's a far-out idea. Something closer to home: if you don't need
video telephony, you don't need rapidly updating color images. So, put
e-paper into those phones. Maybe even the well-established grayscale type.
It probably still updates quickly enough that you could even doodle on it.

Oops, have we just eaten a big chunk of the e-book reader market ? So
sorry ;-)

As an added bonus, you can get flexible e-paper. I don't know how much
abuse it can take, but maybe you could hide something that gives tactile
feedback under it ? Wouldn't a touch screen that feels as if it had real
keys be nice ?

> I've always been amazed by the 1-on-1 nature
> of phone calls.

Oh, that's been solved already. Even GSM supports multi-party calls.

- Werner

More information about the community mailing list