Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Personal Black Box

"There's £50,000 hidden below the wobbly floorboard in my bedroom... oh, and I love you."
  [vote for,

I assume you are all aware of the existence of aeroplane black boxes that record flight data (FDRs) and cockpit voices (CVRs). These devices can be very useful in determining the cause of an air crash.

In modern black boxes, data is recorded on solid state memory boards, protected by a brightly coloured crash-resistant shell. These recorders cost around $10-15,000, and can record about 30 mins of sound (along with data).

To ensure that a recorder will survive a crash intact, it must be insulated by three layers - a thin alumunium housing, an inch-thick dry-silica heat proof layer, and a 0.25 inch stainless steel or titanium shell.

It should be possible to market scaled-down personal versions, for the paranoid passenger who couldn't stand the idea of missing the chance to say a final farewell to their loved ones.

At a little over three inches thick, this walkman sized recorder should be able to carry at least a few minutes of sound. This should be more than enough to record that final goodbye, revised will - or perhaps the realisation of your impending death may spur you to confess where you hid the body.

Basically an MP3 recorder with a crash-proof shell, mass production should mean that these recorders could market around the $100-200 range. For an additional charge you could go for the version that transmits a signal to help find it among the debris.

*Edit - alternatively, the memory capacity of the Cockpit Voice Recorder on all flights could be increased, and a small microphone be embedded in each armrest on the 'plane. In the event of an impending crash the pilot could activate these microphones and allow each passenger to record their final message.

sambwiches, Jun 06 2003

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       A sales tool for Travel Agents, too.
In First class, you get a Personal Black Box with 5 minutes, whereas the Coach section only has 30 seconds on a shared line. Let's compare shall we?
First Class: "... Wow, the ground is getting closer. Ah, shit, fixin' to die *sniffle* I just want you to know I lo-"
thumbwax, Jun 06 2003

       Thanks for the category change, jutta. I missed that one.   

       //Is there really that much that is worth saying but not worth planning (and recording) in advance?//   

       Most people do not plan their death in advance. If I were unfortunate enough to be in the situation, I would be somewhat comforted by the knowledge that my friends and family knew that in my last moments I took the time to think of them, and say my goodbyes (if unreciprocated). I don't think a passage recorded in advance and kept locked away would have quite the same effect. Besides, the final words would be more for my own benefit than anyone elses.   

       While build quality is a desirable feature of portable MP3 players, I don't think any existing player/recorder could be expected to survive the impact of an aircrash, or the extreme heat of the resultant fires.   

       In addition, I don't think the required layers of insulation would be compatible with the marketing of portable music players. Consumers would balk at the idea of carrying a player encased in a bulky silica and titanium shell, but would accept it if marketed as a black box. However, I don't know what the weight of the casing would be, so it could work.   

       @ thumbwax - I expect the final words of many in first class would be 'This wasn't part of the deal, Satan. You guaranteed 100 years...'
sambwiches, Jun 06 2003

       Croissant for knowing that they’re not black.
Shz, Jun 06 2003

       They're black when you turn out the lights.
sambwiches, Jun 07 2003

       Crash Investigator
"What's that mangled mass of melted plastic?"
"I don't know. Looks a little like a dictaphone."
sambwiches, Jun 07 2003

       I have no idea what Kreuner's link is supposed to mean, but in my drunken state it scares me greatly.
sambwiches, Jun 07 2003

       Oh, that's a scream.
thumbwax, Jun 07 2003

       Oh, that's a find, isn't it?
thumbwax, Jun 07 2003


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