Talking without words: it's not just a romantic lyric anymore, it's a deliverable product. You might call such a conversion a sign that technology is killing personal interactions, but when you can privately communicate with others no matter where you are? The truth is that electronics have done more to put us in touch with humanity than any poetry ever did. We'd never get the chance to talk to you like this without it, for one thing.
The voiceless phone, called the Audeo by its creators at Ambient Corporation, works by intercepting the nerve impulses sent by the brain to the vocal cords - impulses which you can send without actually going to the bother of making noise. You might have something to say on the phone but there's no reason everyone else should have to hear, a lesson we've all learned from cubicles (or, with more homicidal feelings, in cinemas).
The system won't support silent spontaneous sonnets of love in the middle of meetings just yet, limited to 150 key phrases and an achingly slow response time. But anybody who dismisses it because of such solvable limitations is a fool - the purpose of any such device is to prove "Does this work at all or what?"- a question the Audeo definitively answers. Upgrading the machinery on either side of the vital "nerve-reading" link is just gruntwork and time.
But while silent phone calls may well be a definable step closer to a Utopian society, they aren't one-tenth of the promise of the Audeo. What we have here is a bondefide actual-fact nerve-reading interface - this is everything we've wanted for man-machine interaction since somebody first wrote the phrase "science fiction".
The ability to control external mechanisms with the power of thought alone is limited only by, well, those thoughts. Mind-controlled wheelchairs have already been demonstrated - based on the same voicebox-reading Audeo system. But it's only a matter of time before the tech is generalized to other nerve systems, a factor which could revolutionize the recently Gulf-enhanced field of prosthetic limbs.
Posted by Luke McKinney.