Design firm IDEO just received the Grand Prize in the 2002 Media Arts Festival held by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs for its series of concept cellphones intended to make using a cellphone less anti-social. Among their ideas: a phone that gives you an electric shock if the other person is talking too loudly, another that has a speech synthesizer so the other party can hear you "talk" even if you're in a place where it's inappropriate, and our personal favorite, a phone that replaces ring tones with knocking sounds: "to make a call, select the number and knock on the back of the phone, as you would on somebody's door. The recipient of the call hears this knock (cleverly encoded and relayed via a short text-message) and decides how urgent the call is." Of course none of these designs are actually intended to be built, just to get people talking about the social role of cellphones.
Read