Tag Archives: Microphone

Your MP3 Player As Your Phone

I’m not convinced that this gadget is exactly the wonder it claims to be, but it’s an interesting fusion of functions. The soon-to-be-launched Ezmax MP3 Player includes a VoIP feature that, in the words of PC World’s Paul Kallender

when the device is linked to an Internet-connected PC via a USB 2.0 port, people can make local and international calls using a microphone that is included in the device’s earphone cord.

I must confess I share some of the skepticism expressed about whether this is a breakthrough product or a gimmick. But there are some interesting elements here that perhaps merit a closer look:

For one, this represents an interesting variation on the idea of USB application drive, where you keep the programs (and not just the data) that you need on a portable drive. (Here’s a discussion of the issue and some examples.) In this role the EZMP-4200P is simply working as portable application device.

But there’s also the built in microphone, which illustrates how the quality of recording, both in terms of input (the microphone) and storage (compression, sampling) have improved. I’m still using my Olympus DM-1 to record interviews but this is old, expensive and stale technology. It would be much better to have the same capability on a key drive (or, as some people do nowadays, their cellphone. iPods are an option, but an extra load.) The existing EZMP-4000 for example, already lets you record your lectures or conferences for up to a maximum of 18 hours(on a basis of 256MB) through a built-in high efficient mike. The USB drive as a good digital recorder. That’s pretty much all a journalist, writer, academic or whatever needs.

Then there’s the idea of identity on a stick. The EZMP-4200P, according to the article, would contain details of the VoIP accounts held by the user, and, while of course it needn’t serve an actual authentication role, it could. Carry your USB drive around, just plug it in to an Internet-connected PC and all your VoIPs accounts synchronise, just like your email, capturing voicemail, letting you make calls etc. Your USB drive would be like a SIM card: Just yours.

So maybe the EZMP isn’t that great a leap in itself, but it’s a sign of the opportunities that USB drives could provide.

Bluetooth Jackets For The Hip – And The Hip-Replaced

Thanks to Martin Herfurt for this: A jacket that, via Bluetooth, doubles as an entertainment centre, complete with (1) hands-free set with microphone in the collar and voice recognition, (2) integrated headphone connection, (3) flexible keyboard embodied into the material and (4) docking station for an MP3 player with a Bluetooth headset:

The HUB-Jacket comes with 128 Megabyte memory offers enough storage capacity for two hours of music. The MP3 files are loaded into the module from a PC via a USB cable. The fabric keyboard woven into the jacket’s left-hand sleeve “can be comfortably operated even when wearing gloves”. All the electronic connections “are sewn directly into the textile material. They are thus out of sight, robust and enable total freedom of movement”. If this is not enough for you, a “helmet with integrated headphones is also available as an option”. The Bluetooth module in the player allows the user to operate a mobile phone. And, in case you’re wondering, the electronic hardware “is tough enough to withstand repeated falls and washing sessions”. The HUB is part of O’Neill’s Winter Collection and costs 500 euros.

Actually, the HUB-Jacket ain’t alone. There’s the Memswear prototype from my Singaporean neighbours up the road which senses when the owner — presumably an elderly person — has taken a fall and puts in an emergency phone call via Bluetooth. (Here’s the original CNN story). And Nike has developed a Comm-Jacket which, according to DPA, “fitted with an integrated microphone and earplugs and a plug for a walkie-talkie”.

Belkin’s New iPod Microphone Adapter

In an earlier column I mentioned the excellent Belklin Voice Recorder microphone that plugs into an iPod. Now they’ve gone one step better: The Universal Microphone Adapter, that connects to your iPod and to any audio microphone with a 3.5mm plug.

You can use the iPod player’s abundant storage capacity to store hundreds of hours of audio, and easily review your audio notes using the built-in 3.5mm jack with headphones or your computer. Copy recordings to your computer for easy storage, editing, or to send in e-mail.

The Universal Microphone Adapter, iPoding reports, costs $40 and is expected to begin shipping on March 17th in North America. It

•  Attaches securely to your iPod with remote/headphone connector
•  Records 16-bit audio at 8kHz
•  Includes real-time recording-level LED indicator
•  Adjusts microphone sensitivity easily with 3-level gain switch
•  Works with iPod software version 2.1 or later

(Thanks to Buzz Bruggeman of ActiveWords for pointing this out)

News: Don’t Laugh, Your Email’s Coming

 
 Not sure whether to laugh or cry at this one. Or tiptoe quietly away. Researchers at Australia’s Monash University, the New Scientist reports, are working on software that would that automatically log you onto the nearest computer by listening out for your voice, or laugh, or footsteps. Microphones on each computer, Rachel Nowak writes, would pick up a person’s voice, or listen for familiar footsteps coming or going. The software would then recognise them and calculate where they are, using flocks of ‘intelligent agents’ – pieces of computer code that move from computer to computer. “The agents,” she writes, “close in on those computers where the person’s voice is loudest, until they pinpoint the nearest one.”
 
The agents — or sneaky little tattletales, depending on your point of view — would, upon realising that you were heading towards the Mars Bar dispenser, deliver your email to the nearest computer, or, upon hearing your rich baritone laugh by the water cooler, administer a pithy reprimand and remind you that your expenses are horribly overdue. I’m not sure I’m ready for this kind of life. We already have an accounts department.