After reading about the new Google Android cell phone platform (the Gphone), it rekindled an idea that I had at a conference some time ago. Turns out there is no “phone” behind the gPhone. Instead it is an open source platform for cell phones.
About 2 years ago, I was a member of a technology panel at a recruiting conference. While one of my fellow panelist was finishing answering a question, a cell phone started ringing in the audience.
On most panels, audience questions naturally get directed to the right person; the panel learns quicky how to use each others expertise and take or defer questions as needed.
I got a question right after the cell phone rang. The specifics of the question, I do not remember. It was something about how to apply the right mix of technology in a recruitment process (right up my alley). A cell phone ringing 10 minutes after the event MC asked everyone to turn their phones off perturbed me.
With microphone in hand, I addressed the crowd. “I’m wondering if the people in the audience today heard the announcement about turning off cell phones. It is quite disturbing for the people on stage. I guess I don’t understand it. In the last 30 minutes, I’ve heard 4 cell phones.” Several people noticibly slinked down in their seats…most likely the offenders. The crowd was expecting that I was going to chastise them all.
In reality, I had an idea that I wanted to share with the audience: The no ring zone. The topic of the panel was technology in recruitment.
Here is a general idea of what I said
“We’ve been talking about the right application of technology and when to apply it. Here is a perfect example. What if there was a device set at the door of this conference, that when passed by, set cell phones to vibrate only? Call it a no ring zone. In high schools around the country, cell phones are being banned. As a parent, I want my children to be able to reach me and I want to be able to reach them. What if this same device could set high schools to parent only ring zones?”
I got a good deal of nodding heads, and a few emails from people over the last year about this idea. I’ve had good conversations about it and it always ends up with our agreement that unless there was some unifying standard behind the cell phones, we wouldn’t be seeing this feature any time soon.
Now that Google has the Android platform, we just need some developer to create a single application, make it free, and market it to speakers, conferences, high schools and parents. Not a bad little market.