Universal Whistling Machine - The Future Of Non-Verbal Communications

Canadian artists Marc Bohlen and J.T. Rinker want to change the way that you interact with your favorite electronic devices. Tired of tiny keyboards, poor speech recognition or incomprehensible interfaces? The Universal Whistling Machine is a step toward a non-verbal dialogue between man and machine. The device uses signal-processing to extract whistles from other sounds and exchange sounds with humans, each others and animals, building up a vocabulary of "phrases." Bohlen and Rinker shared a first prize award at the Art & Artificial Life International Competition in Madrid.


(From Bird Meets UWM 12mb)

On his website, Bohlen muses that whistling is a pre-verbal communcation form that is still in use in some parts of the world. The people of Gomera, in the Canary islands, use a whistling language to communicate between distant hilltops. He writes:

U.W.M is an investigation into the vexing problem of human-machine interface design. Whistling is much closer to the phoneme-less signal primitives compatible with digital machinery than the messy domain of spoken language. As opposed to pushing machines into engaging humans in spoken language, U.W.M. suggests we meet on a middle ground. Whistling occurs across all languages and cultures. All people have the capacity to whistle, though many do not whistle well. Lacking phonemes, whistling is a pre-language language, a candidate for a limited Esperanto of human-machine communication.

This is an interesting notion because one of the most successful pieces of consumer electronics, the original Palm PDA, is based on a similar idea applied to writing. Palm devices dispense with the keyboard, but they do not provide true handwriting recognition. Users scrawl on the screen with Graffiti, a set of symbols designed to be more easily read by computers. By meeting the PDA more than halfway, users had an effective subsitute for bulky (or unusable) keyboards.

Old-school hackers don't need to be convinced of the value of a good whistle. The Bell system phased out its human operators in favor of an automated system based on tones of set frequencies in the 1960's. According to hacker legend, a blind boy with perfect pitch figured out how to whistle up unlimited long distance calls.

Science fiction fans have long been fond of a robot that communicated with a series of whistles (and beeps). R2-D2 speaks a language that is very efficient, but which requires the services of a protocol droid for translation into human-understandable language.

If you are interested in other forms of voice recognition, take a look at the Phraselator P2, the most advanced handheld military-grade speech recognition and translation device available. If you're tired of Star Wars reruns, take a look at GRACE - A real robot that specializes in etiquette and protocol.

Thanks to an alert (but anonymous) reader for the idea and a hat-tip to WMMNA.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/8/2004)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Communication ")

Hurdl PIXL Wearable Helps Fans Connect With Stars
Like Macross Plus!

Advertising Drones Hover Over Traffic In Mexico
'Blurbflies are allowd to travel the streets, buzzing their adverts alive and direct...' - Jeff Noon, 2000.

Audiobooks - Fastest Growing Format In Publishing
'The public preferred lectons...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1961.

Douglas Adams Your Babel Fish Is Ready - The Pilot By Waverly
'You'll need to have this fish in your ear.' - Douglas Adams, 1979.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

PassivDom 3D Printed House - What If You Could Live Anywhere?
'The houses are prefabricated units...'

Breakthrough In Manufacture Of Red Blood Cells
This blood's for you!

Caihong Solar-Powered Drone 'Atmospheric Satellite'
'... placed in the wings of a plane to generate power from the light falling on that surface.'

NASA Wants Low Earth Orbit Wifi
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'

Is Genetic Testing At Businesses A Bad Idea?
It's not a topic that fares well in science fiction movies-

Wearable Smart Jacket
He pressed the button in his sleeve communicator and snapped: 'Action stations!'

Store One Bit On One Atom
'...each individual molecule has a meaning.'

Fluorescent Bacteria Fashion
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'

When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'

LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'

Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'

Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'

Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'

The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'

Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.