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Isophone - Taking calls with zero distractions

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September 17, 2003

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Thursday September 18, 2003

Going very much against the grain of go-anywhere, multifunctional communications devices, inventors James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau have created a cross-between a telephone and a flotation tank that provides the optimal distraction free environment in which to concentrate on the single task at hand - making conversation.

The "Isophone" consists of a fully-enclosed helmet connected to three flotation spheres that both blocks out all peripheral sensory distraction and keeps the head above the surface of the water. The floatation aspect of the device is designed to free the brain from the task of calculating the lie of gravity and in turn enhance concentration. The water is also maintained at body temperature in order to blurring the physical boundaries of the users body according to the Isophone inventors.

The philosophy behind this "total submersion telephonic experience" is tied to the original idea behind the humble telephone box - to create a neutral space where all other activities except holding a telephone conversation can be set aside.

Auger and Loizeau argue that the growth of mobile telephone usage has adversely affected the quality of our use of this technology, because where you are when you pick-up your mobile dictates a great deal about the conversation that follows.

The Isophone is a Media Lab Europe project built within the Human Connectedness group. Follow the links below to learn more.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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