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Wireless Week

Addressing a Squirrelly Problem

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 necessary?

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 movement.

So, next time your wireless phone rings at an inopportune moment, ask yourself, what would cellular squirrel do?

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