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

Bat Bot Robotic Flapping-Wing Drone
'The dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread...'

NASA's Astronaut Rescue Ball
'Ball and closely-prisoned man plummeted downward..'

ARM Wants To Build Brain Chips
'Slivers of microsoft, angular fragments of colored silicon...'

Sky Fence - A Drone-Proof Shield Created Over Prison
'There’s still a protective field over the whole thing. It volatilizes anything that tries to get through.'

Geoengineering The Atmosphere For Climate Change
'...a uniform temperature for each degree of latitude the year round.'

Archinaut Orbiting Robotic Factory
'mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Cryonic Preservation - The Last Perk You'll Ever Need
'Is there not also a law providing for voluntary suspension of animation?'

Computers Understand Humans By Watching And Modeling Them
Soon, your computer will be watching you... and judging you.

NASA Asks For Moon To Earth Delivery Ideas
'Authority's 3-g catapult was almost one hundred kilometers long...'

Musk Tunnels Wisely Restrict Drivers
Too many robots.

Robot Swarms Controlled With Augmented Reality
'You're not thinking in enough dimensions...'

MIT's C-LEARN Helps Robots Transfer Learning To Other Robots
'Talk Between Robots radio...'

Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

Rapid Automated Search For Habitable Planets Needed
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'

WatchSense Perfect For Fat-Fingered Smartwatch Owners
'Now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components...'

Digital Construction Platform Robot 3D Prints A Building
'It extrudes material like a spider.'

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.