Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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<Homer>Operator, give me the number for 911! </Homer>
  [vote for,

VACAB - Visual/Audio Computer Ambience Buddy

(Description's a bit lengthy, so get some caffeine to keep yourself perky.)

A VACAB is doll-size (meaning actual size varies), animated robot that connects to your computer via a USB port (installation software and drivers provided on CD included in packet).

Once plugged in and installed, the VACAB will integrate itself with your OS of choice's system sounds menu (I'm not sure whether all non-Windows systems have these; if they don't, the VACAB 'creates' one). It also searches for any programs on your computer that are compatible with its software to provide sounds for in-program functions (i.e., messenger sounds, etc. - updates made available on website for programs newly added to the compatability list).

VACAB's software will disable the system sounds that run from your PC's speakers, instead running from a speaker within the robot itself. VACABs will come in a wide variety of favorite characters/personages. They will be made to sit on a ledge with their legs (should they possess any) dangling down, useful for setting on top of your monitor, tower, or just over the side of your desk.

Here are a few examples of what might happen when a system sound would be played, using the Homer VACAB:

Program Error: "D'oh!"
Low Battery Alarm: "Homer no function beer well without."
System Startup: "I'm never going to be disabled. I'm sick of being so healthy."
Open browser of choice: "Oh, so they have internet on computers now."

Of course, each VACAB will come with a plentiful database of sound-clips for you to choose from, and you can add more (in either .wav or .mp3 format) should you decide the need is dire enough. The animation itself is not overly complicated; the robot can wave its arms/limbs/etc., and use any special utilities it might come with (Homer would have a beer, of course). For those who are especially ambitious, software is included to create your own animation sequence.

Other VACABs might include Bugs Bunny, Robin Williams, Elvis, or a special deal on the entire cast of Monty Python. And any(one/thing) else you can think of..
Pseudonym #3, Aug 26 2003

Microsoft Actimates http://www.microsof...timates/default.asp
R.I.P. [krelnik, Oct 04 2004]

Nabaztag http://new.nabaztag.com/en/index.html
Wireless designer rabbit ambient display [rmutt, Dec 12 2006]


       I can guess the first industry that would use this...   

       Also baked by Barbie.
RayfordSteele, Aug 26 2003

       Link? All I can find is Barbie USB cameras.
Pseudonym #3, Aug 26 2003


       please explain in private, there's a dear.
po, Aug 26 2003

       Sounds like Bonzi Buddy, in the flesh. He is bad enough in 2D. This would give me the willies something fierce. You know you would roll over in bed and see the little imp sitting there, grinning at you, with sharp teeth. BONE!
bungston, Aug 26 2003

       Why does it have to be USB? It could be 802.11b wireless!

DeathNinja, Aug 26 2003

       This has been baked in the form of a children's toy, I remember one incarnation was Barney the Purple Dinosaur. I don't think it fully integrated with Windows as you said, but it did interact with educational software targeted at the same ages that would appreciate the doll. They were called "Actimates" and appear to be out of production. See link.
krelnik, Aug 26 2003

       Though these may be half-baked, their premise isn't. Neither the Actimates or the Barbie thing (I assume) have sarcasm included, nor can you customize their sounds/actions according to system-specific events. Also unlike Bonzi Buddy because A.) It doesn't /have/ to be an ape; can be a lot of different things and B.) You can stop it from doing specific things you don't like.
Pseudonym #3, Aug 26 2003


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