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Monitor Fish

Fish genetically modified to impart information by their schooling
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Rather than display information on a computer monitor, interrupting that information flow every so often with a relaxing aquarium screensaver, display information via an aquarium interface.

Genetically modify fish so that their schooling behavior -- movement as a group -- is influenced by concentrations of various chemicals. Different breeds of fish, of course, will respond to different attractant, repellant, or more complicatedly behavior-modifying chemicals. A computer will dynamically alter the concentrations and locations of the chemical cues, in such a way that the resultant fish behavior may be "read" by a human observer.

At the most basic, the speed, inter-fish distance, and location of schools within the fish tank give at least three axes of information per school of fish. From this "alphabet" more complicated messages can be composed.

With some training, a human observer will be able to grasp the state of complex systems -- much as certain gestalt information may be more readily "read" from a picture or other graphical display than from a textual representation. At the same time, the viewer will gain the aesthetic pleasure and peace of mind commonly associated with aquaria, real or virtual.

A further benefit can be that, that to the uninitiated, it will be "just" a fish tank, allowing for the monitoring of information in an unobtrusive, even circumspect way. Imagine a receptionist for a large firm, able to ascertain the availability and disposition of every member of the firm, while a guest in the reception area sees only the calming presence of the (to him meaningless) flitting of lovely tropical fish in the gently burbling office aquarium. If the kissing fish are in fact kissing, the partner the guest has asked for will see him; if the fighting fish are performing their pugnacious dance, the guest is to be told that Mr. So-and-so -- safely hidden in his office -- is out until we know not when.

protean, Jun 20 2002


       Replace 'genetically modified' with 'trained', and you might do better.
angel, Jun 20 2002

       Can you train fish?
dare99, Jun 20 2002

       How about a terrarium with Monitor Lizards?
phoenix, Jun 20 2002

       Squid. Or cuttlefish. They produce rippling patterns on their skins though contracting and dilating pigment-containing regions. There's speculation that they can communicate with one another that way, beyond the simple scared/hungry/tired/horny level. They have good eyesight and quite large brains.   

       Get a big enough squid and you could no doubt train it to display quite a lot for information. Plus you could rent him or her out for horror/disater movies. And it would be a handy way of removing contact lenses, providing it could be persuaded not to suck your eyeballs out and eat them.   

       Phoenix: Words fail me. Time for violence, methinks.
8th of 7, Jun 20 2002

       Ooooh! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!   

       *crowd forms a ring, starts clapping and chanting*
pottedstu, Jun 20 2002

       System crash: a large bluefish.
waugsqueke, Jun 20 2002

       Waugsqueke: The blue fish of death, no doubt.   

       In the fishtank, no-one can hear you scream ...   

       Pottedstu: Sorry to dissapoint. A .30-06 and a night sight is more my style. I don't like all that touchy-feely-bite-their-ear-off stuff. Besides, I have the muscle tone of warm putty and the physical agility of a filing cabinet.
8th of 7, Jun 20 2002

       if thats true, then I am with phoenix.
po, Jun 20 2002

       Po:On the plus side, I can mend things, and I earn a lot of money, most of which I don't spend. I also wash at acceptably regualr intervals.
8th of 7, Jun 20 2002

       so does phoe.
po, Jun 20 2002

       Anyhow, I kept seeing this next to "degauss gun", and started wondering, what if you had an electric eel? Could you control it with powerful magnetic fields?
pottedstu, Jun 20 2002

       Pottedstu: Field, current, motion. Flemming's Left-hand motor rule. This sounds like potential cruelty to me ...
8th of 7, Jun 20 2002

       You have muscle tone? Can I have some?   

       Or were you suggesting a filing cabinet with Monitor Mussels?
phoenix, Jun 20 2002

       Phoenix: More of a Clamshell design, actually. Just fishing for ideas.
8th of 7, Jun 20 2002

       Accented with Mother-of-Pearl? I hope you didn't sink too much into it. I don't think it'll float.
phoenix, Jun 20 2002

       Boned for magic technology.
StarChaser, Jun 21 2002

       Replace the living fish with a wide-screen monitor displaying a "live video" of swimming fish (which are computer-generated and whose movements are thus controllable), and it's no longer magic. Matter of fact, replace it with any generated, eye-pleasing visual which carries hidden information and is decodable by only a select few, and it's quite bakeable.
jester, Jun 21 2002

       Of course, the next step would be to display the Babelfish website contents and translation.   

       Get enough of these fish in one large enough tank, control them well enough, and now you have fish-pixels for a large-screen, 3-d Television. Picture brightness might be a problem, though.
RayfordSteele, Jun 21 2002


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