Sometimes you have to be bold. People laughed at Microsoft when they introduced Microsoft Bob too; people didn't know they needed a graphical image of their office showing a fax machine to send a fax - until it was available.
They're not the first. You know what else people didn't know they needed before electricity? Toast. And toasters. You never read about toast in a Dickens novel, or any other novel before the 20th century. It existed but people saw little reason to bake bread and then toast it, because fuel was not cheap. Yet once electricity was readily available and companies had to generate it whether it was being used or not, the same companies behind electricity, like General Electric, began producing and marketing toasters. So then people would use electricity in the morning too.
Thank you, 1995, for giving us both Michael and Janet Jackson's "Scream" and Microsoft Bob in the same year. Image: Wikipedia.
So an industry began. Virtually a decade does not go by that I do not enjoy a piece of toast. It's that fundamental to human existence.
Microsoft Bob actually did not sell that well. Microsoft has clearly done many things right but they got that one wrong - hey, even Elvis had bad albums. The Georgia Tech folks behind Shimi are hoping their "musical buddy" gets a more positive response. Shimi is basically a docking station and its "brain" is an Android phone. Once docked, Shimi automatically hooks into the musical apps of the device.
Shimi. Credit: Josh Meister
It's not Skynet, it's music optimization. If your camera has a camera and face-detection software, for example Shimi will follow you around the room and position the speakers - its ears - so you still have optimal sound as you move. if you tap put a beat you are in the mood for, Shimi scans the phone's musical library and plays songs that best matches what you want.
It will even dance with you. Who needs a date when you have Shimi? Siri sure can't do all that. She just says she can't understand me, because I only talk to her in my Peter Lorre voice.(1)
Here's a video of Shimi in action. Try not to hate the thing because it queues up Coldplay in the demonstration, it is sensing the interests of a geek girl at Georgia Tech, not you.
(1) Homage because Larry Blamire, the scientist in the legendary "Lost Skeleton of Cadavra", notified me Lorre would have had a birthday yesterday, had he not died in 1964. He would have been 108, the only thing that would have made him even more awesomely creepier.
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