July 26, 2008
Message Texting Addicts Breaking Bones

Crackberry addicts are walking into cars, telephone poles, and everything else in their way as they type away walking.

But most of the time the victims are the texters, who wind up with bumps and bruises. Northwestern Memorial Hospital's emergency room has been ground zero in Chicago for texting goofs. Located downtown near shopper-clogged Michigan Avenue, the emergency room is also close to the exceptionally busy lakefront path, where pedestrians and joggers share a lane with bikers.

James Adams, Northwestern's chairman of emergency medicine, says he has treated patients involved in texting incidents nearly every day this summer. He says fallen texters are more prone to facial injuries: They tend to hold their devices close to their faces, so their hands are less likely to break their fall. "By the time their hands hit, their face immediately hits and they smash to the ground," Dr. Adams says. The common outcomes are scraped chins, noses and foreheads, along with broken glasses.

We are not in the environments where we evolved to be adaptive. So we get addicted to drugs, alcohol, video games, Blackberries, and other new things in our environments that we are not genetically designed to handle.

The texters would be less dangerous to themselves and others if they didn't have to look down to see the screen. What is needed: Head Up Display Glasses tied to a cell phone. Then one could look ahead and see the text mixed in with sidewalk or whatever else is in front of you.

But how to type when walking? Avoid the need to type with voice recognition software. Except, people can hear you then. How to maintain the privacy that typing provides? The in-brain implant cell phone that "The Phone Company" tried to convince The President's Analyst (1967 with James Coburn) to tell the US President to allow transplanted into everyone's brain.

Another alternative: develop a drug that breaks down the text messaging addiction.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 July 26 12:26 AM  Comm Tech Society


Comments
Dog of Justice said at July 26, 2008 1:25 AM:

How to maintain the privacy that typing provides? The in-brain implant cell phone that "The Phone Company" tried to convince The President's Analyst (1967 with James Coburn) to tell the US President to allow transplanted into everyone's brain.

Subvocalization may be a more practical input mechanism. (I remember reading it used in such a capacity in a novel, but I can't remember which one.)

Phil said at July 26, 2008 4:59 AM:

Better still, motion sensors in the device to prevent people from texting whilst moving.

Do we really need to be THAT busy?

Brock said at July 26, 2008 8:56 AM:

DARPA Grand Urban Challenge + Segway. Delegate walking and dive deeper into the knowledge-only economy.

Do we really need to be THAT busy?

It's all about the discount rate, baby. In the leverage world of Wall St, the dude with the higher d.r. wins.

wannabe quant said at July 26, 2008 9:28 AM:

But how to type when walking?
Just have the user pretend like they're typing on a keyboard in front of them as they walk. Use motion sensors on the fingers or maybe an outward-facing video camera in the glasses, along with image processing to look at the position of the fingers.

Of course, this will look extremely stupid. But it'll also come to be a status symbol once people recognise it, just as the crackberry is now (you're important enough to need to stay in touch all the time, and rich enough that you can afford such a system), and looking stupid never stopped anything from becoming a status symbol before. This kind of virtual keyboard would also require its users to walk with their elbows out towards the side like they're holding their arms in a typing position, thus taking up more space on the sidewalk, but then, taking up unnecessary amounts of space is a very alpha male thing to do too. Men will respect them and women will want to bear their children.

PJ/maryland said at July 26, 2008 11:56 AM:

I remember one of Asimov's novels (Caves of Steel?) has a receptionist or secretary using a "hush phone" that allowed her to speak to her boss by subvocalizing, so no one in the waiting area could hear her.

WQ says, "...and looking stupid never stopped anything from becoming a status symbol before." Except the Segway, so far.

I agree with WQ's point about alpha males taking up space, but I think a good system would allow the user to keep his (her) hands down. With a little training, the finger motion could be translated to the right keypresses. You could even have the system project a virtual keyboard with the user's virtual hands pressing the right keys, based solely on finger motion, even while his hands are at his side, or even in his pockets.

It goes without saying that this would be an over-priced system with very attractive markups. Any suggestions on how I should go about patenting this?

Donna B said at July 26, 2008 12:53 PM:

You'd think alcohol has been around long enough that we would have adapted by now.

Randall Parker said at July 26, 2008 1:33 PM:

Donna B,

Alcohol has been around in greater quantity and sooner in the Mediterranean than in northern Europe. As a result, Italians have genetic adaptations which Scandinavians lack. This shows up in alcoholism rates.

Travelina said at July 26, 2008 2:49 PM:

Mmmm, I love that arms akimbo look!

cathyf said at July 26, 2008 6:02 PM:

Obviously what we need is the Maxwell Smart shoe blackberry. Then the user will have to stand still on one foot to use it. As for the privacy concerns, that's obvious, too -- Cone of Silence, doood!

Mercer said at July 26, 2008 8:28 PM:

The WALL-E movie shows what texting will evolve into.

Randall Parker said at July 26, 2008 10:03 PM:

Donna B,

Alcohol has been around in greater quantity and sooner in the Mediterranean than in northern Europe. As a result, Italians have genetic adaptations which Scandinavians lack. This shows up in alcoholism rates.

Bob Badour said at July 26, 2008 11:09 PM:

I wonder: Is Asian flushing syndrome an adaptation to alcohol? Or is it a lack of adaptation? It certainly keeps alcoholism rates down in some areas.

epobirs said at July 28, 2008 9:24 AM:

Obsessive texters don't watch where they're going and get injured or killed.

This is a bad thing?

plutosdad said at July 28, 2008 1:17 PM:

Vernor Vinge handled this in his book Rainbow's End. All clothes were wired (like the recent university where they created fabric that generated electricity when it moved). Beginners and us old folks had virtual typewriters, or had to perform other movements that were visible, but the kids who grew up for years with it used small imperceptible body movements to control their equipment.

Randall Parker said at July 28, 2008 7:16 PM:

epobirs,

As Jerry Pournelle once put it (Oath Of Fealty): "Think of it as evolution in action".

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