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 ")

Burner Generates Temporary Phone Numbers
'Interesting phone system he's got, by the way...' - John Varley, 1984.

HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...' - Robert Heinlein, 1940.

Ubiquiti FrontRow Camera Records Your Life
Why be choosy? Just upload your whole life to the Internet, and be done with it.

SmileCloud Bubloons Are Custom Clouds
'Spurgle kicked at the letter G... It was a monstrous white thing, ten feet thick, half a city block long...' - Alan Nelson, 1953.

 

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

IBM's Grain Of Sand Computer
'Our ancestors... thought to make the very sand beneath their feet intelligent...'

Liquid Metal Shape-Changing 'Soft Robotics'
'A mimetic poly-alloy... 'What the hell does that mean?''

The Hammock Caravan And Italo Calvino's Octavia
'Now I will tell you how Octavia, the spider-web city, is made.'

Super-Resolution Microscopy Provides '4D' Views
View the magnified interior of living cells.

Have I Seen The Tesla Roadster Story Before?
'Only it wasn't a vessel. It was an automobile...'

Watch 'Do You Trust This Computer' For Free Today
Thanks for making this available, Elon.

Self-Driving Car Ticketed
This just missed making my day.

Elon Musk Tweets Versions Of Clarke's Operation Cleanup
'Fortunately, the old orbital forts were superbly equipped for this task.'

Burner Generates Temporary Phone Numbers
'Interesting phone system he's got, by the way...'

Walmart’s Autonomous Robot Bees
Everyone loves bees.

EA Created AI That Taught Itself To Play Battlefield
Harmless fun for computer scientists.

Is Teleportation A Death Sentence?
'A long trail of dead, he thought, left across the stars...'

New Brain Scanner Lets You Move Around
'In Bob Arctor's living room his thousand dollar custom-quality cephscope crafted by Altec...'

Can An Entire Brain Be Simulated In A Computer?
'The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of platinum iridium about the size of the human brain.'

Physicists Try To Turn Light Into Matter
If E=mc squared, then... m=E/c squared!

Save Your Brain's Connectome, Upload Yourself Elsewhere
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'

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.