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Conversation Saver

Talk about rescuing a conversation. Now you can preserve those snippets of cell phone calls you miss when, for example, you pull the phone away from your ear to punch a button. A system developed at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs in Cambridge, MA, uses a proximity detector to sense when the phone is away from the ear and a memory buffer to record lost chatter. Return the phone to your ear and the playback kicks in, speeding slightly and deleting spaces between words until it catches up with the ongoing conversation. Because the system continuously records and stores the most recent 10 seconds, it can generate an instant replay if, say, a honking horn obliterates part of a discussion. Within the year, the Mitsubishi lab plans to license the technology for use in cell phones and traditional phone handsets, say its inventors, electrical engineers Paul Dietz and William Yerazunis.

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