June 11, 2015

Bluetooth, GPS, and beyond

I WAS THINKING THE OTHER DAY how convenient it would be if you could receive a GPS signal through your teeth. Imagine hearing  that sexy woman’s voice in your head saying: “Turn to port at the green buoy. Leave the next daymarker to starboard. Your berth is 100 feet straight ahead.”
We already have many accounts of people being able to receive AM signals by way of metal fillings in their teeth. For instance, there was the classic case of Lucille Ball hearing Morse code coming from her mouth during World War II, after she had acquired some temporary fillings.*

And she is not the only one, of course. There have been many reported examples. The human mouth can act as a receiver, and your body can act as an antenna. Maybe you have noticed how AM reception improves when you touch a finger to a radio antenna. It’s not hard to understand that a metallic filling in a tooth, reacting with saliva, can become a semiconductor and so detect an audio signal. As for a speaker, anything inside the mouth that can vibrate would do the trick — a loose filling, perhaps, or some cranky bridgework, even a suitably shaped blob of spittle.

In any case, the point is: if we can receive everyday audio-modulated radio signals, why shouldn’t we be able to receive the ultra-high-frequency transmissions from GPS satellites? I encourage you all to experiment by looking upwards and opening your mouths. Try different angles and openings. Let me know if you hear the GPS lady. I believe people like Garmin would be very interested.

There would still be some minor details to work out, naturally, such as how you shut the GPS lady off when you want to sleep or think about something else. No doubt we should quickly learn the basic controls — using the tongue, opening and closing the lips, and grinding the teeth together.

There is no doubt that basic GPS has brought about the greatest revolution ever known in the art and science of navigation. It surely needs only a little refinement to take it to the next logical step.

Today’s Thought
The only certainty is that nothing is certain.
— Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis

A man walks into a pub with his dog and says to the bar tender. “I’m broke and hungry. But I have a talking dog. If you’ll give me a beer and something to eat, I’ll get him to talk to you.”
“OK,” says the landlord, “here’s a pint and a cheese sandwich. Let’s hear him.”
The man says to the dog: What’s the texture of sandpaper?”
“Ruff!” says the dog.
“What’s the top surface of a building called?”
“Roof!” says the dog.
“What proportion of the earth is covered in water?”
“Arf!” says the dog.
“Hold it, hold it,” says the bar tender. “That’s not talking. That’s just barking. Now get out, both of you!”
Out on the sidewalk the dog turns to his master. “Sorry about that,” he says, “Silly of me. That last one should have been two-thirds, shouldn’t it?”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


clint said...

It is closer to reality than you think. http://www.vice.com/read/they-told-me-i-could-be-anything-when-i-grew-up-so-i-became-a-cyborg-610?utm_source=vicetwitterus

Jeffrey Michals-Brown said...

Alas! That sexy voice isn't coming from the satellites--only timing signals, etc, are. You'd need some awfully sophisticated bridgework to handle all that data and calculation, not to mention synthesize the sexy voice. And even then, you know, it'd be all in your head!

Anonymous said...

John is just teasing with you all, again.

I'm sure he knows it's amplitude modulated radio.

Cheers, Russ