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There are some folks are implanting magnets in their fingers to detect local electromagnetic field fluctuations. They can feel motors—moving current. Maybe they do it to speak with platypuses.

It’s a kind of information activity detector if you ask me, like the dangling string (which shows how busy the network is) only applicable everywhere.

But really what this makes me think of is information streaming in before something actually happens. You know when your phone is about to ring because any speakers nearby make a noise like “b-b-b ba-ba b-b-b”?

Or when you’re playing with a dog and you see its muscles tense and you know what it’s about to do? It’s the pressure drop before a hurricane. It’s reality buffering, and your 6th sense saying to you, like at the beginning of a computer game: Get ready!

Okay, so here’s the idea. It’s based on that little cough you do to warn somebody that something’s happening. This is how it works: You’re on your computer, and you didn’t realise your email client was on. It collects your email, and suddenly you have a message that you didn’t want that now you have to deal with. Or your phone rings and you left it on by accident and now you need to hang up on someone.

What your email program should do before you get an email in an empty inbox, or your phone before it rings… it should make a little cough. If you hear it, you can close your inbox before it gets the email, or switch off your phone before it actually rings. We’d implement this by having one big button that only works in the quarter of a second after the cough.

The person on the other end would just get a tone like you were unavailable—they’d never know your phone was actually on to begin with.

Likewise if you’re watching tv together and the other person goes to change the channel. Your remote would cough, and you could reflexively veto the change. A 6th sense of what’s about to happen, and the ability to go “nah-uh!”

That’s idea #8.

Matt Webb, S&W, posted and presented on 2006-06-01