High technology

Telesavance might replace the mouse

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Jonar Nader talks about computer voice-recognition and telesavance for non-verbal communications via computer networks. Could this spell the end of the mouse? To listen to an excerpt from the radio broadcast, please click on the green play button below.

Here is a transcript of the audio file.

Host: We hear in recent times that the next step if you like in the use of computers will be where a computer can recognize your voice. Is that possible and in what way will it work do you think?

Jonar Nader: Yes it’s early days but the term around that, is ‘tele-savance’. The term ‘savance’ comes from the noun ‘savant’ which is a wise or learned person, or a person who has lots of knowledge about something. Here, we are communicating with let’s say somebody in London, and we are doing an operation in Sydney and the doctor in London needs to communicate to the other doctor. On their headset what they have is called AVATAR. An avatar is a representation of yourself. The reason that it is a representation of yourself, that is almost like a cartoon character that looks like you, not your actual self in video form is that the telecommunications lines can’t cope with video. Video needs about seven thousand times more bits to be transported through, so instead of clogging up the lines with video of each other let’s just form an avatar which is a look-alike of you. Ok so here is an avatar, but now I need to communicate with a doctor and say ‘no, no don’t cut that!’ Well to type that in takes too long and his hands are messy and dirty with blood, so what we need is ‘telesavance’ where he can blink or wink, or do the normal gestures that would go on, and which, generally, are not seen through a computer. So the study now is can we use telesavance, can we use facial expressions and voice expressions, and winks and nods and body language to communicate something to another person elsewhere? So you have verbal and gestural confirmations as we do when we are speaking, and nodding.

How will that continue and how that will go about is that you will need, either a camera on your face to study your facial movements, or you need pulsating type receivers on your body or on your movement, or you might configure your face with all sorts of plugs that can detect vibrations or movement. Some time back, several years ago, the large computer company Compaq put an ad in the paper on April Fool’s day for supposedly a new mouse, but it is operated through glasses. You put on these glasses on your head and if you look up twice it will open the window, if you wink 3 times it will close the window. That was an April Fool’s joke, and actually people rang in to say ‘where can I get one?’ Well they were not far off the mark anyway because the mouse is not really a very friendly thing to use these days, especially when the mouse is two dimensional, meaning you can move a page up or down and if you want to move sideways you have to unclick and move it and so on – it is too hard. What if we could have things connected like a laser beam in your eye, and you just move your eye about so your eye becomes the cursor, as a track ball would normally be the cursor. So here we have a new level of study, and that study is called ‘telesavance’.

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