Have you ever had a conversation with smart friends that got hung up on some disputed point of fact, or tip of the tongue memory failure? Don’t you just wish someone would step in with the answer to unclog the free flow of ideas and happy banter? Disputes about facts and tip-of-the-tongue feelings *should* be a relic of the 20th century. So there are two things that are remarkable here:
- Through smartphones and search engines, we can marshal thousands of machines to produce the answer in the blink of your mind’s eye.
- But we have to perform that instantaneous incantation with pudgy fingers and a 0.3G internet connection. I challenge anyone to find the name of an actor in under 2 minutes with an iPhone with crappy reception. While those 120 seconds creep past, you’re coldly ignoring your friends, and the conversation is gasping on the table like a naked baby on a spacewalk.
Here’s one technological solution to this social problem:
- At the beginning of the conversation, we all put our iPhones on the table, and fire up the Inforager app.
- Inforager is listening to us, uploading the audio of our conversation to voice-recognizing clouds.
- It runs dozens of google searches continually in the background, displaying result-snippet-bubbles that float past, driven by the whorls and eddies of our conversation. While we’re talking about the beardy guy with the Greek name in The Hangover, a bubble for ‘Zach Galifianakis – IMDb’ looms large, only to be nudged offscreen as we move to debating whether the ‘candied sunchokes’ on the restaurant menu are likely to taste more like sunflowers or artichokes, while the other half of the table engages in a dialog on the nature of catnip.
In other words, the answers to questions we have are being provided in real time in response to our conversation. This frees us up to talk about what matters.
- If multiple people at the same table were calling Inforager, it would use the multiple sound sources to do a better job of distinguishing voices and improving audio quality.
- Is it possible to use the phone (rather than the 3G connection) to upload the audio data? That would drain the battery much less.
- I made up the name Inforager.