Who Needs Pavlov’s Dog When We Have Disney and Microsoft…

May 14, 2014 in Blog by admin  |  No Comments

Ivan Pavlov, Russian physiologistRemember Pavlov and his dog?

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who developed the theory / model known as conditioned reflex.

Using his soon-to-become famous dog, Pavlov conditioned the animal to associate food with the ringing of a bell.  He soon noticed that the dog salivated every time the bell rang…whether food was present or not.

(He later broadened his experiments to include children and, naturally, won the Nobel Prize and would soon become the darling of modern advertising).

Taking a page from Pavlov and his experiments, Disney and Microsoft are developing controllers that will take conditioned reflex to the next level.

For Disney, the system is known as Touché is modeled upon a touch-sensing approach.  For example, Touché can recognize when you’re sitting at your office desk (or not).

In their promotion video, they show a young child being monitored and trained to eat food properly (with a spoon vis-à-vis their fingers).  Depending on the response, a harsh buzzer versus soothing bell “trains” the child.  Pavlov and his dog anyone?!

For Microsoft, their system is known as SoundWave.  At the moment, SoundWave uses sound waves from the speakers and microphone built into PCs and laptops and seems an evolution from Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller.

Much like Disney’s Touché, SoundWave can also recognize when you’re sitting at your office desk (again, or not!).  While the harsh buzzer effect doesn’t seem present in SoundWave, the ever-repetitive hand motions that are translated into specific actions – such as moving or swiping your hand in the air to progress your computer screen or programs – seems just another variation of conditioned reflexes.

Computers have already changed the way we read (How Users Read on the Web (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox) and think (‘The Shallows’: This Is Your Brain Online : NPR).  Will Touché and SoundWave be the next steps on the path to turn us into functioning automatons?


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