Bluetooth Headsets: The Precursor to Zero Calvin’s Personal Communicators

Zero Calvin was published in November of 2003. In it, I describe a cellphone-like piece of electronic gear, but one that is much smaller and is surgically implanted behind the ear. They are called PCs (short for Personal Communicators) and they work in conjunction with Display Lenses to form the core user interface to the Ariel System (part Internet, part artificially intelligent pro-active search engine). Here is how I described them in the book:

“PCs are an integral part of the Ariel system. They are the human interface to Ariel and essentially turn every human into a node on the network. You might consider them the natural progression of the cellular phone you had in your days.

“PCs are small, flesh-colored devices implanted behind the ear. Aural input to the brain is provided by directly coupling a mechanical transducer inside the PC to the malleus bone inside the ear. Coupling is accomplished via a tiny rod that passes through a small incision in the back of the ear. This allows the PC to create sound inside the wearer’s head without making any audible sound waves, thus keeping incoming voice messages and music private to the wearer.

“In a similar fashion, a connection is made from the stapes bone in the ear to the PC. This is used as the audio input to the device, turning one’s own ear into a microphone. It is worth noting that with the proper control circuitry, this system can be used as a hearing aid for the elderly or a hearing enhancement for anyone.


“Oh yeah, I almost forgot a feature: the courtesy light. This is a small light implanted atop a person’s ear. It is used by the PC to signal when the wearer is using the system, or “off the hook” as we call it. This warns others that the wearer is not available to talk to them at the moment. In such a predicament, one usually just leaves a message for them on the Ariel system.”

The precursor to Zero Calvin's Personal Communicator

Bluetooth Headsets: The Precursor to Zero Calvin’s Personal Communicators

In the interest of brevity, I snipped out the parts about Display Lenses, but I urge you to read about them in my article about Google’s exciting GLASS device. Anyway, we see from the excerpt that PCs are communication devices worn behind the ears. We also see that they have a light that lights up to alert others when you are on the phone. Sound familiar? Yep, less than one year ofter Zero Calvin was published, the Bluetooth standard was released and everyone started wearing Bluetooth headsets! OK, admittedly Bluetooth headsets tend to be mostly in the ear rather than behind them, and later in the book I described the courtesy light as being red instead of blue. Just the same, I about shit a brick the first time I saw someone wearing one.


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