End ringtones -- bluetooth "personal vibrator" watch.

No, not the sexual kind of personal vibrator. Today we regularly hear reminders to put phones on vibrate, and they are often ignored. The world is becoming rapidly swamped with loud, deliberately destracting cell phone ringtones. (The ringtones themselves are a business.)

I remember visiting Hong Kong 10 years ago, and a business lunch was a serious cacaphony of pagers in a crowded restaurant. They were going off ever few seconds, and this was acceptable there. I don't know how much worse it has gotten. I was on the train today and since that's a place people actually expect to take calls, ringing was quite regular.

Perhaps it's time to declare that cell phones should no longer ring at all, except in certain special circumstances. That the very idea of a ringer should be viewed as rude and pointless and in fact an invasion of your own privacy. Why should the world know you are getting a call?

To make this happen, I propose bluetooth based personal devices to be worn on the body. The most obvious one would be your watch. However, bluetooth based vibrating devices could be placed in glasses, belts, shoes, shirt collars or wallets. Anything the always-available wear on their body. Shoes and belts have the most potential for long battery life. Yes, you would have to charge your device once a week.

The vibrators would have a temperature transducer to know if they are indeed on the body. If that goes cold, a slowly rising ring could be issued from the device or the phone. The phone could also ring if the vibrating sensor is off or not connected to the phone. Or if the phone detects it is in a private car and plugged into car power, though frankly by this time we should all have cars with bluetooth handsfree anyway.

The phone itself, using temperature and other metrics, can also figure out if it is in a pocket, though this works mostly for men. Women tend to keep phones in purses.

Next step -- your cell phone should warn you when you are yelling. It knows if it is getting a good audio signal from you compared to ambient noise. As you probably know, people tend to talk loudly on cell phones if they are having trouble hearing the other party. Your phone should notice this, and give you some subtle "be quieter" tones. If you are using a headset yourself, the phone display could run a VU meter for constant reminder.

(Unfortunately most phones today shut down the backlight and even the processor in the phone during a call to save power, making this harder.)

Here's to a more peaceful public world.


A simpler way to help reduce the voice volume problem would be a speaker volume control that is linked to the microphone average volume. If the person is talking loudly, make the phone loud as well. Most people use the received volume as feedback for their own volume. When the other person is shouting at them, they either shout back (if angry) or quiet down. This is not fully reliable, but as an unconscious response it is something that people will not forget or need training.

The shoe vibrator wouldn't have to be designed to require recharging. Any regularly walked-in shoe receives gobs of energy. You could set up the device so that it recharged using the actual vibrator (piezoelectricity going in both ways), or it could have a rotating weight inside it like my never-wind mechanical wristwatch.

Well the idea for the shoe to recharge itself by using the energy gained by walking is an excellent idea. The whole thing with it being conected via bluetoth and vibrating, yada, yada, nice try but to complicated for something as simple as a ringer. I would never wear something like that. I always keep my phone on vibrate when it is on me. If I set it down somewhere I turn the ringer on, but the only time I leave my phone unattended is while at home. If ringers were considdered rude then everyone would practice the same general idea of just keeping the ringer off with the vibrate on. Simple.

They are rude, and don’t need to be considered as such anymore than they are. But if you hadn't noticed people will not sacrifice a luxury of there’s as not to be rude anymore. They don’t care if they are being rude, no one cares about anyone else anymore.

I think that it should be possible to design a battery that uses the saliva in someone's mouth as an electrolyte. The alerting mechanism can have correspondingly low power requirements as it could be implanted into a tooth or denture and connected electrically directly to the root. I think that such an actuator could possibly get one's attention. If a more permanent and secure solution is desired, the alterting actuator could be neurosurgically implanted directly into the brain...

You are on to something...How about making the vibrators silent, while you're at it? I have been in so many meetings that have been disrupted when half of the room or a few rows of people in chairs have all gone searching for their cell phone to see if theirs is the one vibrating because everyone can hear it! I long for my cell phone of 17 years ago that had a vibrator that was actually silent. It could be in my pocket with only me knowing it was "ringing." So nice! So silent! So unobtrusive!

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