Current mobile communication devices do not grab our attention in a socially appropriate way. They could be disrespectful of ongoing social activity such as an important meeting or private dinner. To improve on this, I have built the Cellular Squirrel, a system where the agent that controls my cellphone is embodied in a small portable animatronic device, as a personal 'companion' for the user. This embodiment is able to use the same subtle but still public non-verbal cues to get our attention and interrupt us like humans would do (like eye gaze and small gestures), instead of ringing or vibration. The user can whisper and listen to her squirrel, receiving and replying to voice instant messages. If the user wishes, she can also bypass the Intermediary altogether and get into a synchronous voice communication with the caller by simply talking to the embodiment.
"The embodiment" -- I love that!
Watch the film clip here. It really gives you the sense of why the robot squirrel is better than a ringing cell phone.
In the future, life will be different. Don't you think? We'll be taking adorable robots with us to dinner, and they'll sit there on the table and send out subtle cues when someone somewhere needs to talk with us.