Cellphones these days are loaded down with every feature imaginable, from shoot-em-up games to web links. Only trouble is that they are fast becoming socially unacceptable. I'm not talking about the carnage on the public thoroughfares; we've always accepted a certain amount of gore in return for speed and convenience. I'm talking about cellphones ringing in restaurants. Cellphones ringing in theaters. Cellphones ringing in churches. And certainly the greatest outrage to American society, cellphones ringing during important business meetings.
Restaurants, theaters, and bosses are swinging into action, banning the dreadful devices, but of course it does no good.
What's the problem? Twofold: First, my calls are more important than your meal. (Everyone else should turn off their phone, of course, so my meal isn't interrupted.)
Second, even those of us who are polite often discover to our horror that we only thought phones were off. Instead, the phone has been waiting for the most opportune moment--usually the consecration--to play several bars of the Theme to the Lone Ranger while we bat frantically at our pants pocket.
Both these problems can be easily solved using the very technology that has caused the problem.
Update: The folks at BlueLinx have, in fact, developed the technology to make phones go silent in in churches and theaters, etc. The device sends out a signal telling properly-equipped cellphones to shut up within what are called Q-zones. Bluetooth technology is at its heart. You can read all about it at: http://www.bluelinx.com/products.htm. Thanks to the many readers who pointed this out.
Add detector circuitry to all new cellphones that will receive and respond to a simple coded signal telling them not to ring. Then, sell transmitters to all the restaurants, theaters, churches, and bosses. Turn on the transmitter and it will transmit a very local signal that will force the phones to pipe down.
Details: When you, the user, approach a blackout zone, your phone will chirp once telling you it is going silent. Then, you can choose to proceed or turn back. If you do proceed, your phone will either switch to vibration in lieu of ringing or report to the network that you have been silenced (your choice). The network can then record caller IDs or offer voicemail, as you wish.
Augmentation: When your phone rings, with or without the silent ring on, squeeze it once to stop it ringing. The phone then sends the network a message that the user will answer once they get outside the restaurant, theater, or church. The network, in turn, plays a recording for the caller saying something like, "Please hold for just a few moments while the recipient moves to a spot where he or she can take your call."
This latter is really a separate invention and could be implemented even while continuing to churn out phones that annoy everyone. It at least lowers the embarrassment of the poor user who is faced with either bolting from church to Lone Ranger theme (conjuring up visions of the mighty horse Silver) or breaking into conversation loud enough to drown out the priest (...And after Supper, the Lord said unto them...Mory, how the hell are you?).
It's time for someone in the cellphone industry to take these suggestions to heart. I've got close to 30 patents under my belt, so here's one for free. Public domain. Do something with it and make a million dollars. On me.
I know that building either one of these solutions is not nearly as much fun as coding up that new release of the Winky Blinky Gadfly Game, but these solutions to real problems just might lower the tide of ire rising on your industry.
If you don't stop ringing phones in church, the next thing you know they're gonna want you to stop killing people on the highways. And then where will you be?
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