Fed up with the phone? Get a squirrel

Aug 26 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Fed up with the phone ringing when you're busy doing something else? MIT research student Stefan Marti may have the answer: get a squirrel.

Specifically, an animatronic desktop squirrel which deals with your calls for you. The squirrel answers phone calls, works out if you are busy or asleep, evaluates how important the incoming call is and takes messages.

When it wants to alert its owner to a call, it waves and moves about rather than making a sound. And, it is ridiculously cute.

. . . .The key principle behind the Autonomous Interactive Intermediary (AII), or "cellular squirrel", is that machines should display what psychologists call social or emotional intelligence.

In other words, a computer should be able to communicate information in a way which is responsive to the social situations around it.

We can just imagine the scene a few years hence. Rather than people walking into meetings and throwing their mobile onto the table, they will simply place their referred animal avatar in a playful pile in the corner. Whose is the talking parrot?

BBC Online | Squirrel helps with mobile calls