Someone strides towards you down the street, muttering manically to themselves, perhaps even gesticulating at the air. For a moment you wonder idly about their sanity, debating sidling off in another direction, or even crossing the road; but then you realise the truth. They’re talking to someone on the phone using a Bluetooth headset. It’s a sight that many of us are still not used to, but one which we’re going to have to get used to. Bluetooth headphones are becoming more and more common, particularly in the fast-paced business world when it’s essential that calls can be dealt with quickly and easily, without fishing around in a briefcase or pocket for a mobile phone. Despite their advantages, however, many people are still eschewing Bluetooth headsets, thinking – perhaps correctly – that they look uncomfortable and not particularly stylish. Many can be bulky and cumbersome, and some are difficult to wear with glasses or headbands. And few could argue that they improve one’s “look”, jutting out from the face as though you’re half-human, half-robot. But it may not be long until these drawbacks have completely disappeared and all phones come with headsets as standard. Technological advances are being made all of the time in the realm of mobile technology, and Bluetooth headsets are getting smaller and less noticeable by the day. The smallest in the world, the SmallTalk Mini Bluetooth headset, is barely bigger than a pound coin and can hardly be felt once placed inside the ear. It’s one thing for a headset not to be felt. But what if it couldn’t be heard, either? Researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany are currently working on a system that records your lip movements and converts them into synthesized speech, paving the way for soundless phone calls at some point in the future. Then, at least, we’ll all be spared the jabbering idiot on the bus or train who simply won’t shut up, which will be a blessing indeed. But will we all look even more bizarre, miming at open air in a soundless dance that only mimics conversation? http://www.kit.edu/english/pi_2010_767.php