I usually get a number of strange looks from Lab students when I start to talk about the mobile phone enabling or extending our human senses. I get most of my inspiration for these ideas from Marshall McLuhan, whose books serve as regular guides for the work that I do. But now this week, two separate announcements are proving that such innovations are clearly moving forward. The first announcement (and the one that will likely have far quicker and more immediate uptake) was the introduction of a Braille phone that allows for person to person communications through vibrations rather than text. While the current application is geared towards text messaging, an obvious next step is to integrate this with Location Based information to create a wide range of services to support those with limited or no sight.
The second, although far more bizarre, is the announcement by NTT DoCoMo of its "breakthrough" smell-phone , equipped with a fragrance emitting plug-in. Aside from the obvious questions about the consumer adoption of such technologies, Marshall McLuhan must be smiling about this one. These two announcements clearly take the mobile phone to the heights of being both a "hot" and "cool" media.