Trade your Phone for a Cellular Squirrel

Posted 26 Aug 2005 at 19:50 UTC by steve Share This

Tired of being interrupted at work by that annoying ringtone on your cell phone? A BBC article suggests it's time to trade in your old timey mobile phone for the latest robotic replacement; the Cellular Squirrel. The robot squirrel is actually a clever (and terminally cute) intelligent agent that uses "subtle but still public non-verbal cues to get our attention and interrupt us like humans would do (like eye gaze and small gestures), instead of ringing or vibration". But it's not as simple as that. The squirrelbot actually answers your incoming calls and has a conversation with the caller. Meanwhile, it eavesdrops on conversations that you're having with others locally and it only alters you to the call if it thinks the call is related or important enough to warrant an interruption. If having a zombie robot squirrel control your incoming cell phone calls isn't disturbing enough, wait until you decide to take one of the calls. The squirrel becomes the "embodiment" of the caller and you have to talk to the squirrel instead of the actual caller. There is also a parrot and bunny prototype if you don't like squirrels. You can blame Stefan Marti of the MIT Media Lab for this one. To read more about the underlying idea see the paper "Autonomous Interactive Intermediaries: Social Intelligence for Mobile Communications Agents" (PDF format).

That's creepy!, posted 30 Aug 2005 at 20:04 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

It's cool, but creepy!

I guess we're going to a cell phone world, but why don't these things come out for a regular phone first and then for a cell phone. I guess my VOIP land line is way behind the times.

I know this is just for fun, but it seems a little squirrily to me. :o)

I could see it being just as easy to make a computer version of this gizmo where as the person on the other end talks a face on the computer moves its mouth and makes weird expressions. However, going to all the trouble of making a robotic squirrel seems like someone was really having fun playing around with this technology.

Embodiment...., posted 31 Aug 2005 at 11:47 UTC by dogsbody_d » (Master)

There have been landline phones that "embodied" the caller for some time. "Teddyphone" was a regular feature on So Grahmam Norton and was used for making prank calls etc.. Hoots and screams from the audience. Me included.

This is another jolly from MIT of course, but the concept is fantastic. As long as the agent doesn't overstep the mark and not tell you abou calls that a person would...

Delirium tremens.., posted 8 Sep 2005 at 11:07 UTC by svo » (Master) colloquially called "belochka" in russian, which is exactly that - a squirrel. A coincidence? :)

What's wrong with squirrels?, posted 8 Sep 2005 at 17:41 UTC by dogsbody_d » (Master)

Indeed. Bearded British funny-man Bill Bailey notes the apparent paranoia of squirrels, and suggests that if you watch carefully, they are rolling tiny joints.

I'm also reminded of British dead-pan funny man Jack Dee, who used to have a bit about all the "attitude" he got from his intelligent home appliances. I.e. his answering machine would be quiet for days, and then say "Oh yeah, Dave rang." The VCR says "I didn't tape that, it was rubbish. You wouldn't have understood it anyway."

I realise that without using a weary and sarcastic voice, the above sounds like a promising set of ideas. In fact, isn't that a Tivo? ;)

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