My Most Important Cell Phone Feature

Gesture Muting Gesture Muting

One of my favorite comics is the one where two dogs are sitting at the computer and the tag line reads "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog."  But, I think we need a comic relevant to "generation flex" who like the flexibility of working from anywhere and doing conference calls at home, in the car, on the treadmill, while feeding the kids, going to the bathroom and even while changing poopie diapers. Not that I do any of these ;>, but I know others do. How? I can hear them. How can I hear them? Because, today's cell phone mute button technology sucks! That's right, let's start innovating in the least addressed feature of the cell phone; the mute button.

I have a nokia 82xx phone and it requires me to press a button, toggle down to "mute" and then select it. That's three steps! Plus, pressing a button is not conducive to how we mute. We mute out of necessity and we mute quickly and often. Pressing a button, let alone one which requires three steps is all wrong. So, here is what I propose: Gesture-based cellphone muting. Here's a few ideas:

1. The High-speed Wave gesture:
High speed wave

Basically, I wave the phone to the right and then to the left and it goes to mute.  I reverse the process to turn off mute. Note: this is best suited for headsets and not hand-holders.

2. The Pressure gesture:

Squeeze it
This method works for both headsets and hand-holders. Very simply, you squeeze the phone to place it in mute. You press again to turn off mute. This works best for the headset-ers who hold the phone. Of course, there is a pleasant audible to tell you if you're in mute mode.

3. The Scream gesture:

This is my favorite and very consistent with what happens right before you need to mute.  Your daughter walks in the room and says; "Daddy, mommy says you need to stop working or she's leaving you...". Since, this is not something new and you know its dinner time, your 6th sense detects  your daughter coming and right before she says a word, you yell out; "MUTE!". Instantly, your phone goes into mute mode. Maybe you can program in something better than "MUTE", such as "LOVE", "YOU LOOK GREAT", "I DON'T DESERVE YOU" or  "HAVE YOU LOST WEIGHT". Your choice, but any of these will have the same muting effect, but can also help relationships at the same time. I'd call this a double win!

Hopefully, someone from Motorola, Nokia or Ericsson will read this blog and grant my wish. If you have other ideas, please comment!


Now tell me.. What about this is story is true? :-) Anyway.. I heard you talk about the Salsa project last year at the JavaZone i Norway. What has happened to the project?

Posted by Paul Rene on mars 14, 2005 at 05:19 PD EST #

That's why I bought a Plantronix headset with a mute button on the volume bud. My home phone also has dedicated MUTE button. Panasonic makes one of the few phones that still has one.

In space, no one can hear you fart. Everywhere else, use the MUTE button.

Posted by Kevin on mars 14, 2005 at 06:28 PD EST #

At least your phone has a mute button. My home phone, made my Siemens, doesn't seem to have any mute functionality. I find this particularly odd, since it's a very advanced phone in all other respects. This means for concalls, I need to plan ahead to not do anything noisy. I've been chastised more than once for typing too noisily while on a concall.

Posted by Matt Ingenthron on mars 15, 2005 at 06:43 PD EST #

The dog comic has been my favorite and have used it any many presentations. I've been looking at a WIKI site and thinking about it for MYKA-AIM-MYSOL. Lots of functionality, but many buttons to choose from. My analogy is its like Adobe Photoshop. All I want to do is crop my picture, not apply layers, animation, filtering. BUT, if I want tons of features there is photoshop and its bulk. If I want limited functionality then get something cheep. What do you do?

Posted by Steve Carlson on mars 16, 2005 at 05:24 PD EST #

I like your ideas for better muting! I had a similar idea today for more efficient phone operations. My Treo presents me with Answer and Ignore softkeys when a call comes in, but I'd really also like a softkey that says "Ignore and SMS the caller to say 'Busy now; will be free in nn minutes'"...

Posted by Eve M. on mars 19, 2005 at 03:15 MD EST #

here you go, your wish has come true.

Posted by Girish on prill 13, 2005 at 09:26 PD EDT #

Hey John, re MUTE function - you missed one very obvious one; how about when u want to "mute" your phone, you simply do what naturally most of us do, we hold the phone (or handset) mike-side-down onto our chest or other conveniently close bodypart. The cellphone mike - or faceplate for headsets - would have appropriate electronics gizmo & circuitry build-in to detect any pressure or large area covering (i.e. light sensors) the phone's mike-side and automatically mute until you push the TALK button again (this would be a feature for those times when ur wife announces that she is leaving you for that midget-weightlifter from the Ringley Circus that just came thru town and you release the phone from your chest or when those swedish stewradess twinw jump you and you want the phone to stay muted even if not pressing aginst some body part of yours..or one of the two swedish stewardesses ;)

Posted by d:) on maj 18, 2005 at 09:56 PD EDT #

nice phone. i like your ideas

Posted by web designer on gusht 27, 2005 at 01:39 PD EDT #

OK, so when will Sun reflect business thinking in terms of its publicly available reference architectures...

Posted by James on dhjetor 06, 2005 at 12:28 PD EST #

nice blog from topics to design. keep up your good work. --Shop online and Send Philippine Gifts to any part of the country.

Posted by Philippine Gifts on janar 01, 2006 at 08:39 MD EST #

ok sooo why would you want to mute yourself...b/c if the person on the other end is asking you questions you have to unmute yourself and then answer then mute yourself again..that's what the mute button does mute you not the person you're talking to

Posted by kathy gergens on mars 22, 2006 at 12:40 MD EST #

It was a very nice idea! Just wanna say thank you for the information you have shared. Just continue writing this kind of post. I will be your loyal reader. Thanks again....

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