Having to decide whether to answer your wireless phone while at a
dinner party or other social event has become one of this century's
big social dilemmas. Is it considered polite, arrogant, obnoxious or
A noted researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT) wants to help answer this question and make wireless
communications more understandable, even "cuddlier." MIT researcher
Stefan Marti developed a concept for a wireless finger ring, which
members of a conversation group theoretically would wear, that lets
people give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to answering a wireless
phone. In other words, the people around you decide whether you
should answer your phone.
The concept, according to Marti's thesis synopsis on his Website,
is to make answering wireless phone calls more democratic. The
"social polling finger rings" would vibrate when a wireless call
comes into a member of the group.
But his concept doesn't stop there. On his Website, Marti
outlines "autonomous interactive intermediaries" – software and
robotic agents that help the user manage his or her mobile devices.
The idea is to use animatronic devices – like a stuffed squirrel or
bunny with phones inside them – linked to the finger ring and
conversation finder elements to help give the call recipient the
context of the call. The critters could provide visual cues about
the caller's attitude using gestures such as posture or facial
So, next time your wireless phone rings at an inopportune moment,
ask yourself, what would cellular squirrel do?