Thanks to Joss Whedon, we know that in the future human morality has advanced to such a peak that it is an article of faith that somebody who answers their phone in a movie theater is sent to the same circle of hell as child molesters.
Until then, Microsoft’s got a patent for a phone that figures out when you’re in a movie theater, and shuts the hell up.
It isn’t quite everybody in a theater realizing that answering the phone makes you a self-centered dickhead that everybody hates, and turning it off voluntarily. But until then, this will do:
Microsoft has patented a technology called “Inconspicuous Mode,” a setting that could put a mobile device into a stealth mode in response to, say, the lights going out in a movie theater. That way, you remain reachable on your phone without disrupting the guy beside you weeping during the “Les Miserables.”
OK, so it’s no replacement for basic common courtesy, and sadly, it’s currently only a patent, not a product that can be legally required to be placed on every handset sold in the United States. But it is an indication that handset makers will, if the owner won’t show any manners, do us all the favor of limiting the damage their rude behavior causes.
Now, Microsoft, see what you can do to turn bad behavior into real-time public service announcements like this one: