Like a child that blabs family secrets at work functions, or a mom that shows baby pictures when meeting a new girl friend, mobile phones can be so embarassing. Microsoft, of all companies, has a plan to help – it’s filed for a patent on a way to instantly silence a noisy phone simply by giving it a good whack.
Sometimes it’s the ringer that goes off in the middle of a meeting. Other times it’s the music that starts playing in the middle of the most dramatic part of the movie you’re watching. Whatever the situation, mobile phones always seem to make their presence known when you’d rather they didn’t.
“Exemplar Whack Event Data” – Say What?
Fumbling for the off switch or the mute button only seems to make matters worse, but Microsoft thinks it has a better way – it applied for a patent that would let you end the problem by simply thumping your phone with a solid smack. Filed on September 13, and first reported by PatentBolt, the patent application details a “whack based audio control module” that’s connected to a device’s speaker, accelerometer and something called an “exemplar whack event data.”
When explaining the need for this feature, the filing overview reads:,
“There are a variety of circumstances under which it may be desirable to quickly control a device without having to interact with a traditional user interface. For example, often mobile device users forget to set their mobile devices in a silent or vibrate mode and the device rings or makes sounds at an inopportune moment.”
The audio control module sits in the middle of the device and when it’s smacked, the accelerometer activates and silences the audio. The control doesn’t just apply to ringers, it could also be used to silence alerts, stop recordings and pause music. The patent hasn’t been announced as an actual feature for future phones, but it’s already making waves. In the patent application, Microsoft read the minds of silly bloggers and readers everywhere regarding the use of the word “whack” to describe the action required to turn the audio off. It stated that any kind of hit, smack, flick, swat or tap would work, as long as something comes in contact with the module.
Why would the company need to clarify that? Because we’re immature, and seeing the word “whacking” next to anything usually results in giggles.
Aside from possibly whacking your phone a little too hard, this feature seems like a good idea. Plenty of phone users already angrily tap the lock buttons on our screens when we want to ignore a call, and smacking it seems much more satisfying.
Dealing With Mobile Embarrassments
Of course, unwanted rings and alarms aren’t the only ways our phones embarass us. There’s also the NSFW photo that shows up when your friend is checking out your Photo Stream, for example – and there are apps to deal with those issues, too.
Safe Slide, for example, filters out photos you don’t want others to see from showing up in your albums. Even apps like Drunk Dial NO! can prevent you from dialing up friends or lost loves when you’ve had a few too many at the bar. Those are helpful, and we’ll likely see more and more of them over time. But Microsoft’s idea of integrating features into the phone seems like a safer bet – especially when it’s panic mode and you’ve got to solve the problem fast.