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Communications Technology

Polite Cell Phones 292

yEvb0 writes "Researchers at Motorola and Carnegie Mellon University are developing more polite cell phones. Strategies include programming the ringer to turn on and off according to the time of day, monitoring sound light levels to determine if the owner is a movie theater or talking to his boss, and even letting callers decide whether they'd like to interrupt based on this information."
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Polite Cell Phones

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  • by rd4tech ( 711615 ) * on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:51AM (#14706522)
    monitoring sound light levels to determine if the owner is a movie theater

    Ok, I'm confused enough, now, where can I buy this cellphone from?
    • monitoring sound light levels to determine if the owner is a movie theater

      Phones ringing are bad. Yes. But you know what? That's because people are inconsiderate jerks.

      I remember going to a couple of movies in a row. Each time, not only did a phone ring, but at least once a guy would answer the phone and start talking in his "cell phone voice." In other words, twice as loud as a person would normally talk. One movie, a guy's phone went off like 5 times. Each time he'd have a loud conversation. Unf

      • Imho, none of these are solutions - they all require behaviour on the part of the user to be polite. The opposite approach should've been default. A venue should be able to mark themselves as "quiet" or "silent" by having a "venue flag broadcasting device".

        The phone would then enter either a "vibrate only" or "pager/SMS only" mode. Doctors and other emergency service personnel could, in turn, get this feature overridden by their provider if they can show need.

        Parents, on the other hand, could still recie
        • A venue should be able to mark themselves as "quiet" or "silent" by having a "venue flag broadcasting device".

          woohoo! Then we could all carry around broadcasters that stop anyone within 200 metres from us from having their phone ring _

          I've not actually had any problem with people in cinemas here recently, maybe people are just more polite in the UK (and I've been going to the cinema a LOT in the last few months because I have an 'unlimited' card ^^; )
      • Until there is a solution for this, I see no reason to pay to watch movies in a theater.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Ok, so your boss calls and the phone tells him you're at his house in a darkened room with a moderate noise level... hmmm, time to look for a new job! eh?
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:51AM (#14706528) Journal
    Set your phone to vibrate. It's been working for me for years. Non-invasive when doing anything in my daily routine.

    Is there really a reason I should have to enter my schedule into my phone? Because it's not going to happen.
    • by LinuxHam ( 52232 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:56AM (#14706611) Homepage Journal
      Not to mention something Nextel has had for years. If I put my regularly scheduled meetings in my datebook, I can program the phone to switch to vibrate on its own, shut off the two-way radio feature, and even decide who in my phonebook is allowed to ring through, just for the length of the meeting. Its really an excellent feature, and I love it.
      • Why not have a feature that if the phone (via GPS, cell towers, what not) knows that you are in a theater or in a *place* then it would automatically change to vibrate or some other defined setting? Just an idea.
    • Vibrate is not always the best option:
      A couple examples:
      At church, during a quiet time, a hip-worn cell vibrating against a Wooden Pew makes a lot of noise...
      During one of my MBA classes, one guys phone was always vibrating, and it was distracting. Especially during exams.
      There are many more examples, but I have to get back to work...
      • by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:00PM (#14706674)
        At church, during a quiet time, a hip-worn cell vibrating against a Wooden Pew makes a lot of noise...

        Well, I mean... they already have the crosses and nails there, right? Seems like a no-brainer to me.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Very tacky.

          But notice that if your insult had targeted an Islamic mosque instead of a Christian church, the targets of your joke would be murdering innocent people right now.

      • Perhaps it would be easy to simply move the cell phone away from the hip? Stick it in a shirt pocket, move it to be on your lap. Some problems are so easily solved without technology. As for the MBA guy, well, I suppose you were lucky it was on vibrate. The prof or you could have mentioned something, especially in the exam. Otherwise, there will always be inconsiderate people, and technology can't fix that.
      • by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:08PM (#14708444)
        Vibrate is not always the best option:

        When a cell phone on vibrate is going to be too distracting to others, THEN TURN IT OFF!

        You have two options:

        1) Accept that cell-phone use in certain situations is inappropriate and don't use them.
        2) Don't put yourself in those situations.

        You used church as your example. Why are you there? To talk to God? (sorry, God, I need to take this Or are you there just to be seen? (yeah, I'm here to look good, but I'm going to be an ass and disrupt the service dealing with my

        Seriously, if your cellphone going ringy-dingy is more important than the service you are attending, why are you there?
    • I leave my phone on vibrate, but I work in a building with radio shielding (we are right next to a major radio broadcast tower). So my phone will often go into searching mode and kill its battery. So I leave it plugged in durring the day. Unfortunately, as soon as you plug the phone into the charger, vibrate mode gets disabled. A royal annoyance.

      • Since the building your in has radio shielding, you're not likely to get a call there anyway. So what is the difference between your phone not ringing in "vibrate mode" vs. your phone not ringing in "audible mode"?
        • The difference is whether or not I have a dead phone when I leave the office. On the rare occurrence that a call does come through during the day my cell phone belts out toccata at max volume and there is no option to change it.

    • I work in a high-security building and can't take my cell phone in. Vibrating cell phone on my car seat does not make enough noise to alert me if I have a voicemail left by my wife, kids, etc during the day. Otherwise I am very considerate with my cell phone, but I am also very forgetful ... stuff like this is very useful for the forgetful among us.
      • If you can't take your cell phone into work, here's an idea: check the voicemail when you get in the car! I don't know what you're hoping for from the technology if you're not even around your phone most of the day. Do you want an automated ringer that goes off every day at 5:30 reminding you to check your voicemail? It's called a damn alarm clock. They make watches with them these days.

        Why increase your reliance on complicated technology when you can easily get what you need without it? And furthermor
  • since people obviously don't anymore...
  • by endrue ( 927487 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:52AM (#14706540)
    a polite human being.
    Seriously folks! How hard is it to turn off the ringer? Are we so daft these days that our phones have to be polite for us?
    • Are we so daft these days that our phones have to be polite for us? Yes. Next question please.
    • So you've never once forgotten to turn off your cell phone in a meeting?

      And the trick, I've found, isn't so much turning the thing to ringer as turning it back afterwards. I'll discover the following day that I've missed a call or two when my phone was out of my pocket and set to buzz.

      Perhaps a better (and simpler) algorithm would be to detect if the phone was in close proximity to the user. If it's in my pocket, always vibrate. If it's on the table recharging, always ring. Not perfect, but it sounds more p
    • a polite human being. Seriously folks! How hard is it to turn off the ringer? Are we so daft these days that our phones have to be polite for us?

      Also, how hard is it to not answer the frickin' phone in the first place when you're doing something else like watching a movie or (gasp!) talking to another human being?

      I can understand emergencies or when you're waiting on time-sensitive information, but many rude people would not change their behavior one bit with such "polite" phones.
      • Funny thing... All these people complaining about cell phones saying, "just don't answer it." Yet, I not seen a single person ever just let their home land line phone just ring without answering it. So, what is it about the little piece of wire that makes the land line polite, and the cell an abomination?
        • Location. Land lines tend to be restricted to home and office. Cell phones tend to go everywhere, and in public areas are often quite annoying if not handled nicely. For example, how hard is it to kill the ringer after the first ring (if you must have it ring instead of vibrate in the first place)? My phone does it, and it's one of the cheap "free with a contract" phones.

          I used to answer the phone every time, no matter what. Then I spent a year in a home office and had to train myself to ignore the home

      • Nokia phones for the past several years have supported user-groups with varying rings depending on your mode. I do have some contacts where I *must* be available, and their contact group will ring full volume regardless of any other settings short of turning it off. Another group will ring in 'normal', vibrate in 'college' mode and vibrate in 'vibrate' mode; whereas yet another will ring at anything other than 'vibrate'.
  • But... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:53AM (#14706560)
    But can it tell the difference between a movie theater and my pocket?
    • Some people never put their phone in their pockets. They have it surgically attacked to their ear.
    • Re:But... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jrumney ( 197329 )
      More to the point, can it tell the difference between my pocket in a cinema, and my pocket in my boss's office?
    • Re:But... (Score:3, Funny)

      by precize ( 83096 )
      That's where the artificial butter detector comes in... which should work, unless you keep a lot of that in your pocket, in which case you're probably not the kind of person who minds what other people think of you.
    • This is exactly the same problem that Nokia's context aware cellphone proto from 1999/2000 had. A dark and quiet environment can mean "phone is in briefcase" or "cinema"
  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:53AM (#14706563)
    even letting callers decide whether they'd like to interrupt based on this information.

    How about no? Letting callers decide whether to override YOUR preferences? That'll work well.

    How about just put the damn thing on silent/vibrate, and leave the rest of us out of your phone call world. I don't need to hear your l33t ringtone.

    • Re:Silent (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:43PM (#14707265) Journal
      There's some merit to this, actually, though it has certain limits. I'd love to know when I call someone's cell (especially those who have no landline) whether I'm going to interrupt them in a meeting or during a meal. A lot of folks will not put their phones on vibe or silent - some are inconsiderate, some are just forgetful - when they don't really want to be disturbed. When I call, I have a reason - I rarely call "just to chat". I want someone's full attention, and if they are busy, I'd rather get voicemail than interrupt. The flip side is the occasional time I might call just to talk. I don't want to interrupt something important with a useless call. I'll just hang up.

      Then, there's the reason to want forced ring-through. If something happens to a family member, I want someone to interrupt me, whatever I happen to be doing. Even if that just happens to be a vibe when I've got the cell set for silent. If it's serious, I'd rather be rude. I'd probably not give out the "ring anywhere" access to most folks, or put a block in the phone (say, a per-number access level). Likewise, if I have an urgent message, I'd like to make sure the person gets notified of my call.

      This won't fix the problem of rude users who - rather than leaving the room - will take a call anywhere, anytime, and talk at full volume. That's not something technology can't fix (though I would recommend a location-specific bark-collar device for repeat-offenders while they're in otherwise quiet spaces)
  • The problem with this is that you cannot take priority of the call. If I am talking to a Boss and say my Wife calls me to tell me she is having a Baby. I much rather have the phone stop being polite and call me. Also there is an issue of guessing correctly, If you are watching a movie in a theator vs. a home theator, with a good sound system. If you want to make the phone polite keep the vibrator on and make glasses (that are fasionable) that have a screen that can tell you who is calling. Don't bother w
    • If I am talking to a Boss and say my Wife calls me to tell me she is having a Baby. I much rather have the phone stop being polite and call me

      And how often does that happen? A span of a week or so, once or twice a lifetime. I'm pretty sure your boss can handle the possible interruption.

  • It's dark and there is the sound of rattling change.

    Good luck with this one.
  • Pocket Watch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by clickety6 ( 141178 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:56AM (#14706620)

    A lot of people use their phone as a watch these days, so it would be nice to have the possibiltiy to turn off the phone functionality but keep the clock functionality. Ditto with phones that have cameras, PDA capabilities, etc. That way you could still use them in aircraft, hospitals etc. without having the problems an active phone are supposed to cause.

    All the phones I've had are either fuly ON or fully OFF with maybe juts an alarm fucntion being available.

    • Re:Pocket Watch (Score:2, Informative)

      by NiteShaed ( 315799 )
      A number of phones now feature "Airplane Mode", which basically shuts off the transmitter part of the phone, and lets you run everything else. As a bonus, I use this when I'm in an area where I know I won't get cellular reception, but I still want to use the MP3 player or camera. The battery life stretches a lot farther, leaving me plenty of power when I turn the transmitter back on.
    • The new Sony Ericsson W range (W for Walkman) allow you to turn off the phone part so that you can just use the media player, etc.
    • Um, my phone, which is now pretty old, has this functionality. I can turn the radio off but keep the phone one so that I can use the PDA in flight, etc.
  • Every time some newfangled crap tries to anticipate and adapt to my needs, it fails miserably. See also: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel.

    No thanks. Like a wise man once said -- If you're hungry, eat. If you're tired, sleep. If you have to go... you know... go. Don't expect Hal to catch these sort of things with any degree of accuracy.
    • If you're hungry, eat. If you're tired, sleep. If you have to go... you know... go.

      Do not get these in the wrong order... napping in your pizza is one thing, but...


  • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:58AM (#14706638)
    It seems to me that most of the "rudeness" of phones stems from peoples strange addictions to ringtones. I just leave my phone on silent/vibrate all the time, and just never worry about disturbing anyone. It's sad that so much energy has to be expended to deal with such an issue. Plus, many of those strategies sound iffy at best since, for instance, many women keep their cell phones in their purse/bag, rendering any attempt to guage light or sound pretty much useless. Plus, as far as sound is concerned, how many people are going to feel a bit disturbed by the fact that their phone is now ALWAYS "listening".

    That being said I see two useful features (which may have been mentioned in the article that I admit I haven't read). One, simply have the phone check your calendar to see if you have a meeting scheduled. Two, provide some type of "snooze" button. Right now, if you decline a call because you're in a meeting, you still get an annoying beep when they leave a message, or the same damn "ringing" 10 min later when they call again. Why not have a single button basically put the phone in silent mode for the next half/hour/n minutes?
    • The snoose button is an excelent idea. But it should put the phone at silent mode. Period. No time-out. When the owner get out of the meeting, he changes the mode himself.

    • That being said I see two useful features (which may have been mentioned in the article that I admit I haven't read). One, simply have the phone check your calendar to see if you have a meeting scheduled. Two, provide some type of "snooze" button. Right now, if you decline a call because you're in a meeting, you still get an annoying beep when they leave a message, or the same damn "ringing" 10 min later when they call again. Why not have a single button basically put the phone in silent mode for the next h
  • monitoring WHAT? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @11:58AM (#14706647)
    monitoring sound light levels to determine

    So your phone is constantly 'listening' and evaluating the sound level.

    Listening to what, exactly? I can see the headline in a couple of years:
    "Your cellphone is listening in to all your conversations"
    And thanks to a new virus, is transmitting them!"

  • I've had several phones and pagers that allow you to set "quiet time", where the phone/pager will automatically put itself in vibrate mode at the times you choose.

    More recently, a Hitachi cellphone I used on the Sprint network had a light sensor that muted the ringer the moment it was removed from a pocket. If left on a desk, the ringer volume would be set lower than if it were in a dark place (i.e. your pocket)

    So, while this is certainly interesting, there have already been practical applications of such
  • This could be the start of bloated cell phones I regret to note. Once these phones are manufactured, cell phone companies will "force" us to upgrade. I won't forget the experience I had last week when I visited a cell phone supply shop to replace a battery for my phone. The man there looked at it and immediately asked, "Where did you get this?" I had no answer for him. Then he told me that my olny solution was to buy a "new" phone yet my phone was bought three years ago and had served me well since.
    • The start? As soon as phones went from calling people and recieving calls to taking pictures (you know how hard it is to get a phone with just call-related features anymore?), phones had bloat.

      It's hard to find a minimalist (in software, at least) phone.
  • Having the device switch modes on its own depending on rules that may or may not be obvious to users will be a problem. Technophobes already complain their phones are too complicated: this is step further away from a simple desk phone people have mastered.
  • Just have the phone light up and vibrate as the default, with the ringer as an option?

    Maybe this way it will cut down on the annoying cell music I hear every day?
  • Want the ringer to change based on the time of day? Callfilter. []

    Change the brightness of the screen depending on the surrounding light? BrightCam. []

    Not to mention the nice hardware switch right at the top that lets you choose between silent and ringer modes.

    You can do a lot more with a Treo than your standard phone, but it is nice to see manufacturers building these features right into off-the-shelf products.
  • by wfmcwalter ( 124904 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:05PM (#14706743) Homepage
    Rather than guessing we're in a movie theatre (which is what this amounts to) or places using cell-phone blockers, why can't someone implement a simple scheme to _tell_ the phone not to ring?

    Of those phones which do ring in an inappropriate place, the owners of the great majority have simply forgotten to turn their phone off (they're forgetful, not sociopathic). Movie theatres, concert halls, libraries and other please-keep-quiet places could have short-range radio equipment inside which sent a "this is a quiet zone" signal. You'd program your phone (and it would come programmed by default) that when it was receiving that signal it would go onto the vibrate-only ring preference. When the signal was lost, it would revert to your default. So when you entered, and when you left, there would be no need to remember to set the phone correctly (the nagging ads always remind me to turn my phone off, but very often I forget at the end and leave my phone off for the remainder of the day). Similarly noisy places like train stations and airport concourses could broadcast a "this is a noisy environment", which your phone would typically interpret to mean that it should use a loud, shrill ringtone.

    There >are Phones should, incidentally, have an "answer with hold" button. So a doctor in the movies whose phone rang (silently) could take it out, notice that it's the hospital's number, and push "answer with hold". The caller would get a short recorded message saying "this person is aware of your call, and will be with you shortly - please hold" - that way the doctor can take the call, but doesn't have to talk into the phone until they've walked into the theatre lobby, where they can take the phone off hold and talk.

    • Your suggestion makes massive sense although of course there are issues. To the extent that a technological solution can be helpful, there are many benefits to letting the owner of a location specify that it is a "quiet place". It can be turned ON or OFF as the situation demands, e.g. after the movie lets out, the theater's CellPhone property could be re-set to "Normal". It could be integrated with the property owner's provision of cellphone signal, to attact customers who want to talk during Normal Time a
  • How about you start charging people who disturb the peace in a movie theatre or another place where silence from the public is the norm? If you get a cell phone call in the middle of a theatre, you have no good excuse to not answer it outside. Sorry, not even having a group of kids under your watch is a good excuse to have a full blown conversation.
  • I hate noisy cellphones, I think people are rude for thinking they are so important that they can disturb others' peace. Having said that, there is one thing I wish I had when I keep my cell phone on vibrate: a distinctive vibrate "ring." The only thing I think is cool about ringtones is the ability to customize them so you know who is calling without looking at the phone. If I had distinctive vibrate I could definitely say there is no longer any excuse for a noisy phone.
  • Quiet times (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tpr ( 267368 )
    My motorola flip-phone thingy has this delightful habit of starting to bleep (bleat) about the battery charge level and somehow it manages to work out the most annoying possible time at which to start. Say, 2am or so. It very rarely seems to bleat during tpical wake times.

    Please, Mr Cellphone software developer, give me an option for a timerange when the phone will be silent. Yes, I'm sure I could turn it off but really, what are the odds of remembering? I know the odds of my wife remembering to turns hers
    • I know it's probably not going to do you much good, but all B&O cordless phones (and the new Serene mobile, I believe) have a "quite time" setting. By default it's set to be quiet from 22:00-07:00. Basically, if the phone knows that it will have an alarm (low battery etc.) in during that time, It will remind you beforehand. Of course, calls will still come through, but if you don't want that, you can always switch off the phone :-P

      I would be surprised if B&O is the only company to have such a featur
  • My treo 650 (Score:2, Informative)

    by fasuin ( 532942 )
    already is a polite phone. It can be automatically turned on and off, e.g., during a meeting, and change the ringer volume based on the lighting condition... Just use brightcam []
  • Finally! (sort of) (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MaceyHW ( 832021 )
    I've been wondering for years why cell phones don't allow you to program ring schedules. TFA mentions this feature in passing as something that's already out there, but I've never seen a phone with it. Is it only in top-end phones, or has it trickled down in the 18 months since I bought my last phone? I should say that I've always purchased mid-range cell phones, I only upgrade when my contract is up or the phone breaks, so I never have the latest and greatest.

    With that one exception, the features desc
  • by Scyber ( 539694 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:22PM (#14706976)
    Silent or something like that. A device could be installed in locations that would try and pair with any bluetooth devices. You could allow the device the first time, and then everytime you visit that location again, it would automatically shift your phone into silent mode. Would be great for meeting rooms & movie theaters.
  • From a crowded movie theater?

    Would you like me to Dial 9-1-1 or Check on your insurance?

    Notify your next of kin?
  • the greatest thing about email is it is asynchronous. i can communicate with someone else on my schedule, without my thoughts being interrupted by random claptrap. that's why my first cell phone ever was a blackberry, and before that the idea of a cellphone in my life horrified me. it didn't represent freedom to me, it represented being chained whereever i went. even now, my blackberry is silent, no ring or vibrate whatsoever, i just look at the screen every 5 minutes or so. i can't imagine a life interrupted and ruled by the random claptrap of a cellphone ringing
    • i just look at the screen every 5 minutes or so. i can't imagine a life interrupted and ruled by the random claptrap of a cellphone ringing

      You can't imagine your life interrupted and ruled by a cellphone ringing, yet you look at your phone every 5 minutes?

      I can easily say that the only time I ever even remember I have my cellphone on me is when it vibrates when I'm at work. At home, I switch it to ringer and it's all normal. I'm not latched to anything. If I don't want to talk, or I can't talk, I si
  • I've always had a problem with vibrating ring in that

    1- you have to be in contact with the phone to feel the vibrations, and I'm a teeny paranoid about microwave radiation & illnesses, so I keep my phone in my bag if I have one, leaving it a few more inches away. Other people don't always have pockets, and people in general miss vibrating rings because they don't feel them.

    2- they aren't that quiet if you've got your phone on a table and it starts vibrating like mad, causing a rattle that's as an
    • Wait a second. You're paranoid about microwave radiation (which in many studies has been shown to not be an issue), but you want a CURRENT APPLIED DIRECTLY TO YOUR SKIN?
      • Hehe, the current *is* tiny, and we understand what electricity does to the body a bit better than radiation. Anyway I only said I was a *tiny* bit paranoid to the extent that i mostly keep it in a bag (which distances it maybe 2-3 inches) and sometimes just keep it in my pocket.
    • This is the best idea I've seen yet. I'd keep my phone on vibrate all the time, but I don't (usually) have a handy pocket to put it in. It's also annoying when I miss calls because I left my phone in my purse or coat pocket after putting them down (like at a party).

      The wristband idea would prevent all 3 problems I currently have with my phone:
      * I miss calls because the phone isn't within easy hearing range, often muffled by a coat or buried in my purse
      * I miss calls because I turn off my phone or set it on
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:26PM (#14707029)
    If (as TFA suggests), monitoring the ambient light is an indication of cinema-ness, then my phone, which spends many hours in my coat pocket or in a flap-covered holster, must think I'm the most entertained guy in the world.

    BTW, if they're going to allow scheduled ring times, I think that's great. But (especially relative to the movie scenario) a very short keystroke sequence that says "don't ring for the next 1/2/4 hours" would be used 100 times more often than TOD programmability, IMHO.
  • by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:27PM (#14707064),2028 1,18104683-5001022,00.html []

    Seriously, the problem isn't the gadgetry, it's the people who use the gadgetry. In the link above, a woman's cell phone rings in a movie theater, then she whips it out and starts talking on it during the movie. Polite ringers won't do a damn thing when it's people that are the problem.
  • Let's invent polite people. Problem solved.
  • Although I do not know why this takes a university group to think about, you can bring both people and technology together to make for a more polite environment.

    Monitoring the environment isn't the way to go. We should be signalling phones to do things, where how much occurs within the phone is dictated by the owner.

    Signal fields which switch phones to a silent setting could still be configurable by the owner, assuming that the range of choices still results in a "silent" phone.

    As for another matter,

  • The question for me isn't if these "polite phones" are polite to the owner or caller - but to the bystander.

    There's nothing more irritating than riding in a full train where every minute or so some cell phone goes off - ringer on loudest possible setting, of course - and the owner proceeds to hold a conversation at a volume level he'd never even consider for a face-to-face talk.
  • My two biggest peeves about cell phones: 1) *ring* (pick it up) *ring* (look at screen) *ring* (think about answering) *ring* (answer it)
    2) *bleep* after every sentence
    3) volume control

    My phone has a button that I use to kill the ringer after the first ring as I pick up the phone. It remains silent while I look at the screen and think about if I want to answer or not.

    My phone also doesn't *bleep* after every sentence. I don't seem to have much trouble figuring out when I am finished talking or when th

  • I've been waiting for programmable ring times for a long while. To me, as a student, it just makes sense. I would rather have my cell phone switch between loud and vibrate according to the times I'm in school (so I don't have to try and remember to turn it on loud when I'm walking home, a time when I would never feel a phone vibrating). A day based schedule would work best, with an option in the contact list for an alternative schedule or override.
  • by phpWebber ( 693379 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @12:44PM (#14707280)
    Polite people don't need it. Rude people won't buy it or learn how to use it. Seems a wasted effort.
  • I've always thought a good solution would be to have a small vibrating device fixed to your watch (say), which would be triggered by your phone (bluetooth or similar). You wouldn't miss any call when the phone's away from you, and perhaps you could configure the phone to ring audibly if it isn't able to contact your (*ahem*) vibrating device. Best of all worlds?

  • ... phones would come defaulted to something like a ring tone instead of an obnoxious midi tune.

    I have yet to hear a musical ring that wasn't intensly annoying. May latest phone, a Moto e815, does not include any "normal" ringtone, just stupid songs and electronic irritations. Thus far I have been unsuccessful in trying to download something better.

    And why can't I just copy a sound file over from my computer and have it work? Is that too much to ask?

    Beyond that, any time someone leaves a voicemail it tri
  • by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:01PM (#14707521)
    The problem isn't the phones, it's the morons who use them. I can't get on a bus round here without some group of braindead teenagers watching music videos or oh-so-amusing 'comedy' video clips using the phone's external speaker turned up full. The kind of person who thinks that is acceptable behaviour is not going to bother with a polite phone.
  • maybe... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by penguin-collective ( 932038 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:02PM (#14707535)
    Researchers at Motorola and Carnegie Mellon University are developing more polite cell phones. Strategies include programming the ringer to turn on and off according to the time of day,

    Maybe "researchers at Motorola and Carnegie Mellon University" should make the effort and head down to their local electronics store to see which of the features they are so busily researching are already available in shipping phones.

    As for the rest of the scenarios, leaving your phone on "buzz" works just fine. In particular, if it's in your pocket, it's silent, when it's on a hard surface, it makes a lot of noise--just what you want.
  • 1) Detect user is in movie theater with ringer activated.
    2) Explode.
    3) Profit!
  • by philipgar ( 595691 ) <> on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:32PM (#14707969) Homepage
    The idea of a smart phone doesn't sound too appealing, there are just too many exceptions to rules, and I am generally better at choosing for myself.

    I think before we even get into changing phones so they're smart, why not change them so they're not retarded first? The biggest problem I have with phones is that many of them (the two motorolas I have) beep when you change yourself from "loud" mode to silent. At least when you don't have the phone open. Now what idiot thought up this idea? You're sitting in class, or a theater, and suddenly realize you left your phone on. Now you have to make a decision, do you annoy those around you by having your phone beep at you as you turn the ringer off, or do you run the risk that it might ring.

    Also as other people have said, once it rings and you hit the ignore button, don't beep for a voice mail message, or ring again from the same person etc.

    While people who use their phones all the time are generally better about remembering to turn off their phones, those of us who get a couple calls a week, and almost never during the day often don't think about the fact that they have their phone with them wherever they are.

    Basically, just fix the idiotic notions programmed into cell phones, and then think about smart phones.

  • by mccrew ( 62494 ) on Monday February 13, 2006 @02:02PM (#14708368)
    This same story was on NPR this morning, and I listened with increasing incredulity to the ridiculous technological lengths that the American tech crowd goes to find a technical solution to non-technical problems.

    There were discussions about having people wear various light and sound sensors so the phone could make an "intelligent" choice whether to ring or not, or going through an extensive training period where the user tells the phone whether to ring or not, and the phone "learns." Like with anything online these days, the topic went to how much private data was the user willing to give up in order to allow the callers to decide whether to make the phone ring or not.

    Hello??? The problem here is that people are thoughtless. No amount of tech is really going to change that.

    This reminds me of that old joke of the difference between the American space program and the old Soviet space program. The Americans spent lots of money to research and develop a pen that would work without gravity, while the Soviets used pencils. Nothing new under the sun.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.