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Annoying-Topic Indicator Pin

Helps steer conversations in a positive direction.
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Sometimes there is no polite way to get out of a bad conversation. In some cases, it is a personality clash. Other times it's the topic of conversation. As one cannot account for personality, this device would attempt to fix the latter issue by letting conversation participants know when an issue is annoying to someone else. For example, I love spending time with my friends, but when they start speaking about their children, I tune out. It's not that I don't like kids. I just don't care about other people's children. Likewise, I could care less about the sitcom "Friends", most professional sports, and interdepartmental politics at my job. If I tell my friends, "I'm sorry, but I don't really care what your brood is doing in its cage right about now," I come off as an ass. But if a machine tells them basically the same info, it becomes like any other machine indicator, and thus, a less obnoxious means of steering the chit-chat.

The Topic Indicator would be a small lapel pin with red and green LEDs affixed to it and a microphone. It would be connected via RF to a PDA or other pocket device (maybe a modified iPod) and would run natural language processing software. Users would pre-program topics (and relevant phrases) into the device, and it would recognize when those topics were spoken of. So let's say I'm wearing one. If someone says "Did you see that episode when Ross and Monica..." the red light goes on. Conversely, if someone says something like "Remember when Butthead was trying to take a crap in prison?" the green light goes on.

Now, this would have to be a universal accessory. If one person wears one, they are simply seen as a jerk. If everyone at a party/office wears one, it might cause a shift in how conversations take place, replacing the awkward grin-and-bear-it moments with actual meaningful conversation. Most people probably don't need a green light for positive conversation feedback, but I have the misfortune of knowing far too many people that do not respond to subtle social cues, and might benefit greatly from a red light somewhere in their field of vision. Granted this doesn't encourage poorly socialized people to improve on their own, but we're not trying to work a miracle. It would be especially good for IT people, Aspergers patients, and new parents. So if I get cornered again by Jimmy the jock or Gary the gamer geek, we will have to work hard (because I'm sure that I'll light their red LED) to come to a common ground, and possibly a new appreciation for one another, or just agree not to speak which might be for the best.

tourist, Oct 25 2005

Warn me if I'm boring http://www.popgadge...warn_me_if_im_b.php
Face analysis approach to a similar problem. [jutta, Jun 14 2007]

[link]






       [LED flashing *red*]   

       Oh, and what bristolz said somewhere else - this is the quintessential, or was it orthogonal, no, archetypal, ah, canonical "let's all." It's alright for you to look like a jerk, and even just you and your friends, but if you want *everyone* to look like a jerk, it's beyond the scope of the Halfbakery, however you plan to achieve it.
DrCurry, Oct 25 2005
  

       I don't consider it a "let's all" idea. It's like any other socialization tool, groups opt in, like workplaces that require a single email program, or issue pagers to all employees. And similarly, there would be members of the user group who chose to ignore or disregard the information. I would imagine that there would be some who's entire goal in a conversation would be to get someone's red light to go off. Hey, that might be even better.
tourist, Oct 25 2005
  

       "this would have to be a universal accessory"
DrCurry, Oct 25 2005
  

       /I could care less about the sitcom "Friends"/   

       So you like it, then? You have indicated that you have some level of care for it above the minium.   

       Non-US sp: couldn't.
Texticle, Oct 25 2005
  

       So everyone needs to do this or the ones who do will seem like jerks? Sounds very Let's All to me.
Then of course there would be the people who delight in talking solely about topics that annoy you.
And to top it off, I'm not convinced that the technology exists to recognise certain words coming in a variety of accents.
  

       That said, it might have a use on the halfbakery, when people bring up the same old arguments again and again. Maybe as a flag or something as a warning to other users (e.g. ideas tagged "Warning: This idea may contain pimping of *" would be something I'd avoid)
hidden truths, Oct 26 2005
  

       This "problem" is simply solved for most people by the use of body language to indicate boredom, or more politely by the use of one's tongue to change the subject.   

       If tourist had really been using his/her noggin, s/he would have come up with an electronic device that lets him/her find people who are interested in the same subjects. But that's baked.
DrCurry, Oct 26 2005
  

       Im temporarily working with this bloke who doesnt shut up. One story leads to another, and it just goes on and on and on. I wish I could tell him to shut up, but I just dont have the heart (balls?).   

       So I think its a great idea. Its not a "lets all". I'd wear one by myself, and I reckon you'd all be following the trend within a year anyway. +
JoeyJoJoShabadoo, Oct 26 2005
  

       Of course, how many people ever worked around a darkroom to know that a red light means "leave it and go"? I weary of 'esplainin myself to the odd comer.   

       Signage suggestion: RED light on, I'm watering my onions, begone or be one.
reensure, Oct 26 2005
  

       I'm not sure whether the suggestion is that the speaker should be able to see who it is who's sending them a red (or green) light. If the suggestion is that the listener has a device that sends a signal to the speaker's device that lights the speaker's red (or green) light, without letting the speaker know who's sent the signal, then I like it. Otherwise, I don't like it much and am suggesting this version instead.   

       The transmitting device could be simply a little box in your pocket - it doesn't need any fancy topic identification software. The receiving device would then have to average the signals received, and display anything from bright red through amber to bright green.   

       Someone with Asperger's might well actually appreciate this, and voluntarily carry the receiver. The rest of us (or them, depending on my diagnosis... :) would then be doing them a favour carrying the transmitters - no call for anyone to feel like a jerk.
Cosh i Pi, Jun 14 2007
  
      
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