Cellular Phone Robot And iPhone - Joymaker Wannabes

In his excellent 1965 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot, Frederik Pohl writes about our world several centuries in the future, seen through the eyes of a modern day man brought back to life.

Every person in this future world has a joymaker, an amazing handheld device that mediated all social interactions:

The principle of it was clear enough. It was a remote input-output station for a shared-time computer program, with certain attachments that functioned as pocket flask, first-aid kit, cosmetics bag, and so on. It looked something like a mace or a jester's scepter.

The remote-access computer transponder called the "joymaker" is your most valuable single possession in your new life. If you can imagine a combination of telephone, credit card, alarm clock, pocket bar, reference library, and full-time secretary, you will have sketched some of the functions provided by your joymaker. (Read more about Frederik Pohl's joymaker)

Today, we would call it a cross between a cellphone, a PDA and a web browser. (It also has some additional features I'll get into below.) I'd hate to call science fiction writers prophetic (okay, I do it all the time), but I think Pohl called this one pretty darn close.


(Apple iPhone)

Consider the iPhone, Apple's working prototype "cellphone." If you've seen Steve Job's masterful presentation of the device, it is also as good a web browser as you can fit in your hand. It functions as a stylish cell phone, letting you screen your calls and obtain a random access listing of your phone messages (Apple calls it "Visual Voice Mail").

It also functions as a personal digital assistant, keeping your contact lists and other information. Finally, it is an entertainment device, playing music and even small-screen movies. In the video, we are told that the Cingular network is an essential part of providing the iPhone's functions. (That's why you won't see it offered on other networks anytime soon, marketing agreements aside.)

In the same way, the joymaker was completely dependent upon the functionality of the network that supported it. The joymaker also performed as an educational and entertainment device; special joymakers were available for children (I wonder whether Apple really thinks that I'll buy a $500 device for my kids...).

The iPhone is also the first cellphone or mobile device to offer rich HTML email; this allows the sender to include a lush photo or two with an email message. This is very cool, but it pales next to the tactile net virtual kiss voice mail available on a joymaker.

Another (lesser-known) candidate for joymaker is the Cellular Phone Robot (CPR) designed by engineers from the Soochunhyang University in Korea. The ultimate vision for this phone is that of "ubiquitous companion robot." For this iteration of the device, they have focused on giving the CPR "emotions" expressed in tactile, olfactory and visual behaviors.


(Cellular Phone Robot)

That's right, olfactory. The Cellular Phone Robot has 12 micro-nozzles to emit odors that are intended to identify the caller, along with different vibration patterns as well as music. All smell combos are determined in the strictest engineering way - biometrics.

You've never seen a cellphone like this one. It actually has little wheels on it; it can find its way to a recharger (on a table top) and can find the owner of the phone to take a call. (Check out the video shown below; oddly, the presentation starts about thirty seconds in, so just skip.)

I know what you're thinking. The real world always goes beyond the wildest dreams of even the most prescient science fiction writers. I mean, a phone that sprays stuff to identify callers; who could have imagined that?

Frederik Pohl, that's who. The joymaker had a nozzle that could spray the user in a variety of contexts. The most important use was to calm the user down; if the joymaker detected that the user was getting too excited or frustrated, it could spray a mild sedative.

It also went beyond the crude scents offered by the CPR to identify a caller. The joymaker could even give you a virtual kiss from a caller:

What he got was indeed a kiss. It was disconcerting. No kissing lips were visible. There was a hint of perfumed breath, then a pressure on the lips - warm and soft, moist and sweet... (Read more about the joymaker virtual kiss)

Compare this feature list for the joymaker with what the iPhone and the Cellular Phone Robot have to offer:

Call List - very early use

Cellphone Credit Card - mobile phone wallet

Cellphone Tranquilizing Spray

Interests Profile - an intelligent agent

Online Employability Profile Testing - get the right job first

Online Job Search - via cellphone

Virtual Kiss (Tactile Net) - affection by wire

We're getting closer, Mr. Pohl.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/17/2007)

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 ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Communication ")

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.

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.

 

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

Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'

Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.

Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'

How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'

PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'

Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'

ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'

LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'

Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."

Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'

DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'

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.