Thursday, May 8, 2008

The next killer app.

When I was living on the Silicon Coast, I was fortunate enough to become fast friends with a brilliant computer scientist, I will, for the purposes of the post, refer to only as X. (The word brilliant—especially amongst Anglophiles is greatly overused. Many are called, X is chosen. His IQ, my guess, is in the 200s. I’ve actually seen him read two books simultaneously while speaking on the phone. In short, X possesses abilities that make Steven Hawking look like George W. Bush.)

Despite, or because of, his brilliance, X had washed out of all the West Coast tech companies—too innovative, too unbridled, too non-conventional, too experimental. Too willing and too able to say “fuck off” to a Jobs or a Gates.

About two weeks ago, I mentioned to X that I had a trip to Sao Paulo in the near future. “Sao Paulo?” he said. “I will send you something overnight delivery that will make your trip infinitely better.” The next day, a small apparatus arrived via FedEx. I followed X’s instructions and in short order molded the plastic a small chip was imbedded into to the upper part of my mouth. It fit well, like an orthodontic appliance.

I called X to explain—I could discern no functionality (though my teeth could use a little straightening.) “I call it “Zip Lip,” said X. “It instantaneously translates your spoken words into whatever language I program it to.”

Almost inconceivably, the device works. Even more inconceivably , it translates the words it “hears” (in its pre-programmed language) into your native tongue. So while my colleagues have been struggling to mince out the occasional “Obrigado,” I have been enjoying—reveling in, actually, my fluency.

“X,” I said when I called him again, “this is shocking.” X only laughed. “Just wait,” he said, “Just wait.”

“Zip Lip.” Remember the name. The new “killer app.”


Tore Claesson said...

Does it translate corporate speak?
That's the real killer.

george tannenbaum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
george tannenbaum said...

I will interface with its paradigm and get back to you to close the loop with a POV by EOD.

Laura said...

Are you sure you didn't suffer with foreign language syndrome? Or foreign accent syndrome? These are actual diagnoses. Sounds pretty similar to me- maybe the plastic chip stimulates head trauma causing FLS.