22 March, 2007

Phones on a plane.

FCC may drop plan allowing cell calls in-flight, which is good, because on a plane there's no walking away from someone who just has to describe her most recent visit to JCPenney™. I like the fact that we don't have to bear any white noise in addition to the engines' humming.

But do we owe this blissful silence to the cell phone usage ban? May be, but only indirectly. I think there is a more powerful social factor.

See, the persons who like to talk over the cell phone a lot, they usually tell something, i.e. they produce a monologue. And you don't really need a phone for a monologue, right? The only time the telephone function is used is at the opening stage: "OMG I gotta tell you about..." and in the end: "Oops, these rude people are staring at me, talk to you later". Between these phrases there is virtually uninterrupted stream of words, so one doesn't actually need a working phone for this kind of "conversation".

So, we don't hear these entertaining monologues on the plane only because describing a JCPenney sale into a switched-off phone (or just into the open air, for that matter) is considered silly, ridiculous and otherwise socially unacceptable. We're spared -- but not because of the cell phone ban per se, but because the chatters don't want to look stupid, as if... oh, never mind.

Which gives me a wonderful commercial idea: someone could make a "talkbox", that looks like a phone, with a microphone and all. But, it isn't connected to any network, so there's no interference with the in-flight systems (and no bills to pay, so it can be used on the ground, too!). Instead, there's a voice-synthesizing system which once in a while says, "Uh-huh", or "Really?!", or "Tell me more!" and so on. Deluxe models could also have speech-recognition system, so when the user says, "Know what I'm sayin'?", the talkbox would answer, "Yeah, totally", or something like that.

It could be marketed as "Confidebot" or "Supportive Jenny" -- this needs more thinking. Just check your regular cell phone with a flight attendant, show her that you're going to use the Supportive Jenny and talk on the phone like you normally do, all flight long!

Of course, I feel a little guilty suggesting this, but if it works, I'd be flying first class my private jet, so why do I care!

/off to USPTO.gov

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wonderful idea. Have a croissandwich.