Impersonal Devices

Do people get so suckered by the moniker “personal device” that they believe playing videos, music or games with the volume up, in small public places, is somehow not audible to those around them?

Airplanes, waiting rooms, and basically any other public space where annoyances already abound are now also subject to the child, or worse, adult, who has yet to grasp the dynamics of sound waves and nearby ears.  Hey look, that Candy isn’t going to Crush itself, but I know for a fact that the volume setting is optional.

Really, these folks are today’s version of those folks from yesteryear:


The personal device space has advanced so far in such a short period of time, cramming more and more functionality, speed and sophistication into smaller and smaller devices.  But what is hasn’t done is crammed more and more courtesy into the same old people.

I’d like the makers of personal devices to turn their innovation towards something of significant societal value: making their owners better participants in society.  While we are still probably years away from building a reliable “scowl detection” algorithm in every device, at least we could all be equipped with a universal kill switch that mutes the speaker volume on every device around us.  Détente would take it from there.

Phase II would advance the tech to detecting the sound of heartbeats in close proximity.  If those heartbeats start to all rise at once, it would, in order:

  1. Kill the speaker on the device
  2. Detect whether the user has been in a long-running phone conversation and kill that next
  3. Realize there’s something even worse happening and call 9-1-1.  It could put them on speaker.

Sure, users might bemoan the loss of their inalienable Right to Annoy, but the gains in the Right to Not Have Your Device Thrown into the River would likely make them soon forget.

And yes, this applies to YOU, lady who chose the closest bench in the whole empty park to sit and listen to your Calypso music…


About David Erickson

Software Development Technologist/Executive. In the business since 1990, focusing in the Supply Chain Execution (SCE) and Work Force Management (WFM) spaces. Nerdy by nature.

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