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August 26, 2005

Do you suffer from mobile telephone calls at inopportune times? Could you use a cute PA to take calls for you while gaming, or asleep? A dissertation project from MIT by HCI specialist Stefan Marti may have your solution: Cellular Squirrel.

Of course you will always want to talk to people who are thinking the same things as you, so Cellular Squirrel waves and moves about rather than making a sound. His oddly bulbous figure makes use of "socially strong non-verbal cues like gaze, posture, and gestures, to alert and interact with the user" rather than intrusive alerts in order to minimise user stress and social disruption.

Cellular intermediaries also come in two other flavours: "a parrot and a cute bunny"
posted by NinjaPirate at 3:15 AM PST (12 comments total)

Maybe it's my heterosexual bias, Ninja Pirate, but I don't think watching the cellular squirrel squirm when the mobile phone I shoved up its ass rings is going to minimise my stress.
posted by three blind mice at 3:34 AM PST on August 26

Ass rings?
posted by blag at 5:16 AM PST on August 26

posted by mr.marx at 5:26 AM PST on August 26

the kids at MIT have been turning out some interesting gadgets recently. How some of them do it is even more interesting. The scream body is a furry front-backpack that saves a scream for a more appropriate time. That one, and other cool stuff, is coming out of the Center for Bits & Atoms and based around a nifty little project called Fab Labs.
I like the course website for MAS863 (how to make (almost) anything) and Neal Gershenfeld's book, FAB. I've been meaning to put together a FPP on fab labs, but, well...I'm lazy.
posted by carsonb at 5:55 AM PST on August 26

A squirrel, I would... throw across the room? Unless it was a real squirrel trained to answer the phone and to run and get me if it recognized the voice. That would be fun.

But I would rather have two invisible little wireless ear buds that would be an angel in my right ear and a devil in my left.
Angel: "Answer the phone. It's your mother. You never call."
Devil: "Fuck that. She's just going to depress you. Have a beer. I'll tell her you're at the library."

And maybe hide a little microphone in a false mustache. Or a ludicrous false-mustache-and-glasses combo that could hold the whole thing and project talking devil and angel images on the lenses as if they had materialized in front of me.
posted by pracowity at 6:02 AM PST on August 26

I love it. Particularly the parrot. Perfect.
posted by daver at 10:24 AM PST on August 26

I think it's horribly rude to find people talking on cellphones in restaurants or other settings where actual humans are vying for their attention. I think it would be awfully weird to see people reacting to an animatronic squirrel instead, but I'll take weird over annoying any day.

I don't get enough calls to warrant such a device, but I totally want my own animatronic bunny anyway. BUNNY!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:45 AM PST on August 26

I don't know if you guys and gals clicked through, but the videos of this in action are... oddly compelling.
posted by NinjaPirate at 2:18 PM PST on August 26

"Although we have had speech recognition for some time now, elevators still have push buttons. It just doesn't make any sense to introduce a more complex interface when what we have is already completely appropriate."

From the BBC link. Thank God someone reccognizes that pushing a button in certain instances is far easier than speaking. For example, while it can be said that it is faster, I HATE the speech recognition phone directories... I don't wanna interact vocally with a freakin' machine. I'm perfectly at home listening to the menu, and then punching my choice. Something about just irritates the piss outta me. (and I want a squirrel too!)
posted by Debaser626 at 2:26 PM PST on August 26

I agree with mr.marx...the bunny must be mine.
posted by StrangeTikiGod at 4:11 PM PST on August 26

great post, NinjaPirate - this is really amusing and creative stuff. I vote for the bunny, too!

Thanks also to carsonb for some neat links.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:25 AM PST on August 27

Debaser: Hrm, I actually like speech recognition because with a cordless phone, I have to pull the phone away from my ear, enter the numbers and then quickly get the phone back to my ear before the system starts reading the next menu.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:09 PM PST on August 27

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