Viridian Note 00202: More Neologue Contest

Bruce Sterling []


Key concepts
Viridian Neologue Contest, Natalie Jeremijenko

Attention Conservation Notice: If you have no interest in our ongoing and remarkably prolix Neologue Contest, you can skip this note quite painlessly. Over 3,500 words.


(((Earlier entries can be found here:

From:* (Guillermo Acevedo)

1) A temper-based coffee dispenser.

Wire a voice recognition chip to a coffee maker. After you walk into the kitchen the coffee maker says "good morning". When you respond, the chip analyzes your tone of voice and determines how sluggish and moody you are. It adjusts the "strength" of the coffee to the appropriate level. (Good for hangovers also).

2) VOICE TV 3 words: no more remote!

From:^^^^^* (Nick Posecznick)

When someone says, "It's showtime," lights go out in the room, and a TV and VCR come on.

When one says, "Now this really pisses me off to no end," the radio turns on & self-tunes to a preset classical station. This is meant to sooth the nerves of the person.

When someone uses a phrase that you don't like (e.g. same difference, politically correct, tax and spend democrats,) your watch says, "shut up" or something even less civil.

You say, "Nice hair," and your watch says, "cha-cha-cha-chia." Referring to the Chia pet, of course.

From:* (Michael Paolini)

  1. Voice controlled (sun)glasses. These glasses would become more or less polarized on command. Saying "wow it's bright in here" would for example cause the glasses to become darker by running a stronger current through the lenses.

2) Electronic Mood Stones. (2a) A fashionware update where 70's meet 00's. A voice recognition chip hooked to

color LED's (or similar display) placed in jewelry would create mood variations, based on positive or negative voice tones and keywords. Words and phrases such as "duh," "I'm so sure," "Whatever," "Talk to the hand," and "bugger off" would light up colors associated with negativity (perhaps shades of red). Positive words could be mapped to more positive colors.

2b) Jewelry would change on verbal commands by the user. If the users says "Pendant turn blue please"

the pendant obeys.

2c) Fashionable furniture changes color on command. It has been woven with fiber-optic strands forming a modern

equivalent of a reactive Lava Lamp.

2d) A laser show projector similar to those keyed by music. The laser flash-writes recognized words or

phrases from the conversations around it, through hidden or wireless microphones around the room. Suddenly a fragment of somebody else's conservation appears written on the wall via laser, perhaps with an inbuilt delay timer in a party situation. A conversational fractal.

3) A voice adapter for MP3 players. The device recognizes the names of songs, artists, and albums and plays them on


Kirk McElhearn

An Automatic Commercial Silencer for TVs and stereos.

From:* (Curtis Wilcox)

When someone uses a pejorative word towards technology (particularly the embedded, ubiquitous sort), the chip counter-argues.

It Hears =============

It Says

Big Brother
guardian angel

This could be a part of a museum art installation or as environmental art, or included in other smart devices such as elevators, phones, and dashboards.

From: VKolouch@AMDARCHITECTS.COM^* (Victor Kolouch)

Announcing the meme-o-graph!

An agent scours the media sphere hunting for memes. Likely sites: Salon, U.S. News, New Yorker, The Well, Greening Earth, Amnesty International,, etc. Memes are analyzed for strength, weighted and uploaded via wireless link to a small, attractive, personal device which listens to your every word.

Whenever a meme is recognized, the device produces a

physical sensation. This sensation can be selected as either pleasant (e.g. a slight odor of pine forest) or unpleasant (e.g. a small dribble of fluid down your leg). The user can choose the sensation based on his/her immediate self conscious relation to membership in the data stream. Don't want to pass memes? Make it hurt. Want to shift the balance in the body politic? Give your self the warm fuzzies every time you say "Carbon dioxide really makes me mad!"

Variation 2

Announcing the cliche demonstration project!

The Museum is announcing the opening of a new display. The Rube Goldberg Variation is listening to YOU (apologies to PDQ Bach). If you say something it recognizes, the Variation will demonstrate it.

Over time, the Variation will listen to the conversations within sensor-shot. Any metaphorical phrase that it hears more than once will be logged. Every week, The Artist will receive a request from the Variation. The Artist will create an Actuator which will express the new dominant phrase of the week. For example, whenever someone says, "If I had a nickel for every time I...." an Actuator could dispense a nickel.

The Actuator will be permanently installed to the

Variation. Over time, the Variation will grow as an open ended accretion of demonstrations of the cliches uttered by thousands, tens of thousands, millions of art consumers. If the project continues for a long time, some cliches would become obsolete. Individual Actuators would fall into disuse. Linguistic archeology could be the hobby of grade schoolers. Writers could read to the Variation, hoping for no demonstrations. Performance artists could say things designed to play the Variation. A string of horrible cliches could create a masterpiece of mechano- music.

From:^^^^* (V. K. Gupta)

a kitchen which can answer the question "Is there anything to eat?" If the fridge-and-cupboard inventory system is insufficiently stocked, the system then lists registered take-out places, by genre: "Would you like Chinese? How about Pizza?" It then steps the user through the selection processes involved in ordering those foods, and places the order over the internet.

(Sebastian Mendler)

YesMan (tm), for use when talking to oneself. YesMan responds to phrases like "What do you think of that?" with a random selection from a set of phrases, such as: "I think that deserves further consideration," or "Brilliant!" or "Are you sure you've thought of everything?" The level of obsequiousness or criticality is user-programmable.

Other modules could be inserted, such as the Pocket Conscience (tm), which responds to statements like "*Now* what am I supposed to do?" or "Should* I?" with a gentle reminder to adhere to the user's selected ethical set (which can range from Machiavellian to Gandhian). (Some wags would probably go for the companion Pocket Tempter (tm)...)

The YesMan could also be expanded at extra cost to include the Amanuensis (tm) module, which remembers anything beginning "Remind me to..." and then spits it back out when you say, "What's next?" or "What now?" The Networked Executive Assistant (tm) module would be able to communicate with the YesMen of your subordinates, whenever you say "Remind <name of subordinate> to (do something)."

Another Couple or Three Neologue Contest Entries* (Michael M. Butler)

4) Every model of light plane is different. I want a general aviation checklist processor that is built into

each airplane. It would be pleasantly surreal if your plane could read off its own preflight and other checklists, taking proper action based on a handful of commands, e.g.: "Start preflight", "Check", "Say again?", "Details?", "Hold it!".

Less surreal but more practical would be building a little dongle for this purpose compatible with the Handspring Visor (which already includes a microphone, but no decent speaker).

Not having to keep switching attention back and forth between checklist(s) and the plane is a good thing, and ought to help student pilots with "bonding" to the aircraft and internalizing the flow of the routine.

5) It's too hard to remember to turn telephone ringers back on. I wish I could just tell my land line phone to

shut up; it would turn its ringer off for one of several selectable intervals, say 1/2 hour, 8 hours, 24 hours or until it stopped hearing snoring and/or "intimate sounds", re-enabling the ringer later with no further action required.

6) A simple snoring scorer for people who wonder if/how much they snore, but don't want to wade through hours of

realtime tape recordings or pay $$$ for a sleep study. In the morning a little readout tells you how much, how often, whether there were any patterns suggestive of apnea, etc. Could also be programmed to say "<your name>, turn over!" and give the bed a nudge==then record if the trick worked or not. I could find out if Breathe Right strips actually work!

From:* (David Q, Spitzley)

Concept: Roving Greenhouse Flood Victim Locator

These would be small drone boats (probably the nifty fan- driven types from the bayous in Louisiana) which would be released in "schools" in an area affected by flooding. The drones are equipped with loudspeakers. The voice recognition would operate in two stages:

a) Survivor detection
the boats announce their presence at public-address volume once every couple of minutes. The drone will move towards any noise parsed as human speech (filtering out other drone announcements by checking for a specific subfrequency), and also send a radio message including the drone's current GPS location and direction to the detected human voice.

b) Using fuzzy logic calculations on received vocal volume, the drone will estimate distance to source and move in. It will attempt to elicit a response from identified source, and if it does so successfully, it will issue another radio message confirming the location of the survivor, and then begin asking a series of yes/no questions. If the drones are large enough to carry passengers, they can be invited to climb aboard, but the drone can also ask "yes/no" questions to identify those survivors who need immediate human assistance - trapped in a tree by receding water, those who need medical attention and cannot move, groups of survivors too large to fit on one drone, etc. Also, by asking the names of survivors, the drone could help identify people identified on lists of the missing to speed the process of contacting family, etc.

From:** (Dave Whitlock)

Device #1: Take the transmitter circuits from a cell phone and combine them with the bare minimum needed to have a working Global Positioning System.

Now wire in the ISD-SR3000 Embedded Speech Recognition Engine and stick all this along with a good microphone into the smallest and most indestructable casing available.

Keyphrase: "don't hurt me.... just don't hurt me".

Result: unit calls 911 .. transmits the gps

coordinates and keeps the mike open so that 911 can record and respond. Maybe a tiny digital camera could be wired in as well so 911 can watch.


Life's little soundtrack. Mount the ISD-SR3000 Embedded Speech Recognition Engine on a portable mp3 player and then sort your mp3's by what mood they put you in, instead of by musician.

When you say "energized," your player will select at random a song from the "energized " file, thus helping you to achieve the mood you want, or giving you a soundtrack for the mood you are in.

"But our basic aim here is to seriously stretch the public imagination and really blow the doors off the baby- carriage of this infant technology."


As follows.

Device #3:

Ha ha ha... solar powered lighter-than-air craft in the shape of floating baby heads (smiley faces?)

They use their ISD-SR3000 Embedded Speech Recognition

Engine in conjunction with other lightweight circuits and devices to home in on and move toward the loudest sound source in their vicinity. This device would only be worthwhile if it could be mass produced cheaply and in staggering numbers (millions?). Imagine the effect a couple thousand of these might have amidst urban strife. Might these floating icons of innocence not inspire people to calm down and be quiet for a few moments? Wouldn't a couple of hundred homing in on your position make you think twice about raising your voice?


Device #4:

A cat collar with a rear facing microphone and a little radio transmitter, and the ISD-SR3000 Embedded Speech Recognition Engine of course.

Key phrase: the sound of a cat fart

Result: Everyone in range of your home audio system is

informed of the "feline flatulence event". Let's see kitty act aloof now! bwahahahaha haha ....ha.

Device #5:

Interactive dvd movie player with the ISD-SR3000 Embedded Speech Recognition Engine so that FINALLY when you yell at the TV screen there's a chance the characters might take your advice for once. Sample key phrase: "DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR!!!" Result: dvd switches tracks to scene where the character actually doesn't open the door. (Perhaps the villain opens the door while the character is busy thanking the audience for their help.)

Device #6:

Key phrase: the sound of you snoring.

Result: the greatly amplified sound of your snores

hammering you awake at which point you stop snoring and can drift off once again to sweet slumber... don't know if its better than a poke in the ribs but it should work at least as well.

Device #7:

Barnacle activism Build a solar powered device which is as small as you can make it, camouflaged, and eco-harmless in its components. This device must be able to spend long periods outdoors (forever?). The device should contain, in addition to power system and the ISD-SR3000 Embedded Speech Recognition Engine, a good microphone == a good loudspeaker == white(red/yellow?) LED'S == minimal circuitry and a relatively friendly way to permanently attach it to trees/rocks.

TRIGGER SOUND: a chainsaw or other small motor.

RESULT: when triggered the barnacle emits light and

sound pulses keyed to modulate the alpha/theta wave activity in the human brain. These pulses could be set at frequencies proven to cause extreme agitation and fight or flight reactions in humans.

Device #8:

TV remote that calls out "Polo" when it hears "Marco",

enabling you to hunt it down.


Candy/cookie/cereal packaging that responds to the rhythm of a childs footsteps with calls of "me , pick me, buy me, buy me!


Call out "honey I'm home" and the ISD-SR3000 Embedded

Speech Recognition Engine will turn the TV on, adjust the air conditioning and dispense a cold beer, while the recliner warms up its massage motor.

Device #11:

A TV that turns off for one hour if it hears the

exchange "Why are you watching that?" "Nothing else was on."


For nervous parents of teens, an automobile upgrade

which will turn on the interior light and switch the radio to religious programming in the event of heavy breathing.


A Halloween costume for adults that undergoes a

radical, terrifying (spring loaded?) transformation when triggered by the phrase "trick or treat." Perhaps the chest pops open in the manner of a mouth to reveal what appears to be a partially-chewed costumed kid.


A voice activated stuncollar for young gentlemen to

wear when escorting young ladies on dates. The young lady of course knows the trigger phrase or sound.



a robotic arm which uses both the ISD-SR3000 Embedded Speech Recognition Engine and sonar perhaps. KEY PHRASE: "hand me ........ that." RESPONSE: "hand me" activates the arm and its secondary sensor (sonar?). Homing in on the speaker, it checks to see where they have their arm-hand-finger pointed, and what object is thus described. Upon receiving the command "that," the robotic arm picks up the object and hands it to the user.

Other trigger phrases such as "no, that," "stop," and

"put that ... there" would prove invaluable.


The phrase "why am I still up?" should cause every light and entertainment/communication system in my house to shut off for 4 hours. Do me a favor and build this one into my house.

From:^^** (Dave Phelan)

Key concepts: hotel showers, voice recognition

I'm spending a lot of time travelling at the moment (mostly in Germany), but I'm having the usual "how do you work this?" issues with hotel showers. A voice activated water pressure & temperature control would make things easier. A few simple commands are all that is needed: On; Off; Hotter; Colder; More; Less.

When I check into the hotel, my language of choice should be noted, and the shower voice control programmed accordingly.

(Reid Harward)

I want voice control for a coat of many colors, suitable for bike riding in car traffic. My word "whoa" triggers the strobe function in the coat, to announce my location to unaware drivers.

With vector drawing capabilities built in, any number

of messages might be displayed on the coat's surface, all triggered with voice command.

There's a nice flat light that I saw in a club a few weeks ago which might be applicable to the coat of many colors project:

Speedy web navigation via voice. Command-and-control voice seems applicable to checking multiple weblogs quickly. Nice little killer app!

This does voice navigationand looks like it's about half-baked, but with some obvious potential for web navigation via voice.

From:^^* (Carl Boyd)

SPOT v. To locate a point in space n. A common name for a dog viridian. Device that is worn by the blind to act as a virtual seeing-eye dog.

User voices commands into unit, which is linked to

Global Positioning Network, which gives auditory responses on how to navigate a neighborhood. It locates Spot- friendly businesses and public buildings and services. Once inside, the device can Blue Tooth to a transmitter that gives a more detailed description of the building's interior, using nodes on the walls to triangulate the user's position in the room. Spot can indicate where the train/bus station is, and track when the next one is coming. The device can also record; when a blind person navigates a site that is not detailed by the GPS, the system will record the path taken by the user, for future reference by other Spot users.

(Duncan Stewart)

Many products consume when they're NOT in use == from clocks in VCRs and coffee-makers to laptop battery chargers.

Hence the talking coffeepot.

'Hello == would you like to establish a maximum time

for keeping a pot of coffee hot?'

'30 minutes.' 'As you wish.'

A solar-charged battery keeps that time in memory. If the data is lost, it prompts you again. When 30 minutes are up (or when the pot is empty == laser reflection off the surface of the coffee?), the pot says 'Coffee pot == shutting down'. Like a snooze alarm, you have five seconds to say '10 more minutes', or 'half an hour, please' and the pot replies 'as you wish' and stays on.

The more advanced systems will broadcast a Bluetooth signal to your TV, computer, Palm Pilot or treadmill with a two-minute warning, and accept a like signal in response for a continuance.

My second entry is the Handspring Visor vocoder. When verbally prompted to' Record', it creates an MP3 of your spoken notes, or at 'Scheduler', it makes voice-entries in your calendar. You can speak the date and time, or it will recognize 'Today', 'Tomorrow', and the days of the week and enter it in the appropriate place. The gee-whiz feature is when you're in your car, or with your hand on the front-door handle, and you say "I feel like I'm forgetting something..." Whereupon you hear "Would you like to review your schedule?"

The questions "What's happening this afternoon?", "Is

today our anniversary?" and "Was I supposed to pick something up for dinner tonight?" will access appropriate keyword-enabled listings.

In the morning, you could also put it in 'Listening' mode. It records every conversation in a one-minute buffer. If your name comes up, or 'Honey, ', or 'Now don't forget,' it stores the preceding minute and the remainder of the conversation, which can be recalled later, when you're in your office.

From:* (John McChesney)
The concept: you are commuting to work on your bike
when some cell-talking, SUV-driving individual cuts you
off. Hook the ISD-SR 3000 to an Air Zound bike horn. The

horn is loud and powered by compressed air, and is easily recharged with a standard bicycle pump. The most efficient key phrase I can think of would be any number of four-letter words.

From:* (Peter Miller)

You phone a machine and say "Viridian". The machine selects an address at random from a database and prints and sends a postcard. The postcard includes details on how to contact the machine by phone.

The meme is thus proliferated. I take no responsibility for postal bills generated from the above scheme.

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