Viridian Note 00198: Viridian Neologue ContestBruce Sterling [email@example.com]
Attention Conservation Notice: It's another in our series of Viridian design contests.
The Viridian Neologue Contest
Even supercomputers still can't "talk," because they
can't understand human language. However, voice
recognition has made remarkable strides.
This opens a new possibility: creating very
fragments of human language for use with a small gizmo.
Forget the talking Coke machine or the robo-feminine seat-
belt warning. Those crude applications merely emitted
pre-recorded bursts of canned speech. We now face the
prospect of newfangled gadgets that can listen to you
and mechanically respond.
These machines would recognize certain words or brief
catch-phrases, and use them as an interface trigger.
They employ the ISD-SR3000 Embedded Speech
Recognition Engine for command and control applications,
which was released in late 1999, and has so far found its
primary market niche in Panasonic cell phones. However,
Viridian fellow-travellers from the legendary Bureau of
Inverse Technology have come into possession of a number
of these objects. Hence our new contest: finding
incredibly cool things for them to do.
These Recognition Engines are rather sophisticated
devices. They respond to a spoken word or very short
phrase, and send along an electrical signal. With the
proper wiring installed, this signal could activate pretty
much any switch, trigger, key, button, sensor, lever,
and/or actuator on some already existing machine. (As a
further plus, the chips can also emit human-sounding
The Viridian Neologue Contest therefore asks the
cogent question: "When Things Start to Listen, what do you
say to them?" Our aim in this design contest is to
invent feasible, verbal/mechanical situations that carry
this technology to fantastic, unheard-of, cyber-surreal
This is a conceptual art design contest.
coin some imaginative word or short phrase, and briefly
describe its application to some real-world machine. Your
phrase and its application should be so technically
insightful and so artistically striking that they
startlingly illuminate the vista of possibility opened by
this new variety of human/machine interaction.
Furthermore, as a special plus, we plan to actually make one of these babies, in a top-end academic design lab on America's glamorous East Coast! That's right! A Viridian Imaginary Product that actually exists as a blobject d'art!
A few potential examples:
Unlike most Viridian contests, this one requires no
webpage from participants. All you need do is merely
email in a brief, cogent description of your concept and
its trigger word or phrase. Nor is this a particularly
"green" contest. Many green applications (such as #4)
obviously spring to mind, but our basic aim here is to
seriously stretch the public imagination and really blow
the doors off the baby-carriage of this infant technology.
Keep in mind that our eventual goal is here a working
proof-of-concept. This means a real, functional device,
which with any luck will really be created, with an
actual speech chip hardwired to some actual machine. So
we want to stay in the realm of physical practicality
here, as opposed to sheer sci-fi freewheeling, such as
"Whenever I say, 'I'm bored,' a nuclear holocaust
ensues.'" Oh yes, clearly that's theoretically possible
with this technology, but we're aiming for a design
installation, something that everyday people can really
touch and properly marvel at.
Consider yourself formally restricted to the lab
resources and bench-space realistically available to real-
life engineers at a real-life New York university.
This unique Viridian Contest comes complete with its
own judge, Dr Natalie Jeremijenko of the Center for
Advanced Technology, NYU. Dr Natalie, who teaches
engineering and is an internationally known techno-artist,
is in possession of the hardware and a solder gun. This
naturally makes her the Guest Viridian Pope-Empress for
this particular effort. All her decisions will be final.
Some enlightening examples of her uniquely
Jeremijenkonian sensibility can be found at:
People who enter a Viridian Contest receive a
valuable and prestigious star <*> for their log-in name.
The winner of the Viridian Neologue Contest receives a fab digital notetaker with which to capture all those inspired commands in their native medium. It's an ergonomically blobby Olympus V-90 Digital Voice Recorder!
This contest ends on Halloween, October 31, 02000. Good luck!
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O