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Airlines, Cell Phones and the Cone of Silence

John Hagel comments on a post by Jagdish Bhagwati, to which I must utter a hearty AMEN.

Edge Perspectives with John Hagel: Airlines and Cell Phones

... We are already seeing assaults on this sanctuary in terms of wireless data connections that allow us to access the Internet and e-mail while flying 30,000 feet above the ground. I am proud that I have generally managed to resist the temptation to connect while flying.

But this extension of the connected world is far less upsetting to me. At least I have the choice whether or not to connect. If my seatmate chooses to connect, it makes no difference to me.

Cell phones are another thing entirely. Even if I choose not to connect via cell phone while flying, I am still at the mercy of anyone within a three to four seat radius of me who chooses to connect. The sanctuary walls will be irretrievably breached. ...

John also provides a well-deserved testimonial for the Bose QuietComfort 2 Noise Cancelling Headphones. Interestingly enough, after trying them at the Apple Store last week, I immediately bought two pair (one for my wife) for use on our frequent flights between the Bay Area and Chicago. The problem is that while they're wonderful at reducing plane noise, you can (unfortunately) still hear voices pretty clearly. The thought of last Saturday's fully packed plane, passengers armed with "loaded" cell phones in the confined space of a Boeing 737 is blood-curdling.

As I think about it, perhaps this represents an opportunity for technology union involving Bose's noise cancellation technology and the Babble voice scrambling technology developed by Danny Hillis and Applied Minds. As the short video on the Sonare Technologies site explains, Babble gives you confidentiality by adding phonemes to your speech resulting in your conversation being heard as a "gentle hum". Now, being hit by a dozen "gently humming" seatmates on a plane doesn't appeal to me, which is where the Bose headphones come in... they are built precisely to identify consistent, uniform noise (aka "gentle humming") and cancel it out.

So, if you fine folks at Sonare and Herman Miller haven't already started working on this, get started now. And John... we may not be able to go long on Bose, but Herman Miller, Inc. (NASDAQ:MLHR) may be in for a nice bump.

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  • Response
    Response: nexus 6 vr headset
    I think we must avoid from the use of phone while we are in the plane and there is a serious reason for that. Still there are many people that are not aware with the consequences.

Reader Comments (1)

Great post! I look forward to your future work. Thanks.
Apr 18, 2006 at 1:49AM | Unregistered CommenterCellphoneSavant

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