Trade your Phone for a Cellular Squirrel

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).

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