Needed: Ubiquitous Instant Input Microphones

02Jun08

I’m in the grocery store.  I’m looking for something.  I can’t find it.  I also can’t find a clerk to help me find it.  So I give up.  I want to tell the store about it and move on, maybe try again next week.  What I need is a wired or wireless microphone, one in each aisle, that will allow me to speak for up to 20 seconds, once per minute, so that I can register my suggestion or complaint in an audio file on the computer in their office.  If I want to leave my e-mail address too, I might try dictating that, or I might use the one or two microphones in their store that are accompanied by keyboards.

I’m standing in line at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  I’ve been in line for a half-hour.  It’s a huge waste.  The election is next week.  I’d like to tell the incumbent that this is one reason why I won’t be voting for him/her.  The incumbent should be required, or at least allowed, to put a microphone there in the line, and so should his/her opponent.

There’s a dog barking down the street.  It keeps me from sleeping.  I could get up, find the phone book or go online, look up the number for the Humane Society or the police, and call them in the morning.  Or I could call 911 and spend the next hour waiting to see if a cop is going to show up at my door at 1 AM.  What I really want is just to use a messaging system that would be designed to help me look up the delivery address for the message that, once again, I want to dictate into a microphone and be done with.

Instead of requiring everyone to install all kinds of microphones all over the place, I want my computer, cell phone, or PDA to connect me directly with a messaging system designed to facilitate quick lookups of the contact identifier for every person and organization in the world.  They’d have gotten that identifier at birth, or when their company was founded, or when they paid their taxes.  Nothing secret about it; this is how I would leave a message for someone whom I haven’t seen since high school.  Their identifier would still be the same, decades later.  I’d punch a few buttons, standing there in the pickles & olives section of the Kroger grocery store, and then I’d leave my question or complaint and be done with it.

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