Fans of movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or the more recent Deadpool, will understand what breaking the fourth wall means. But for the sake of this post, I’m applying the concept to when technological breakthroughs go beyond the boundaries of sight and sound.
The fourth wall is what we call the psychological process of, intentionally or unintentionally, creating boundaries to surround our experience. It’s our mind’s way of giving things context. And this concept of a fourth wall goes beyond just when an actor talks directly to the audience. In fact, you can apply the wall idea to a number of mediums—only, it often goes by different names.
For instance, when dealing with volume or space, you know the fourth wall as the fourth dimension. When it comes to literature, the fourth wall is actually called metafiction. And with technology, well, we’re just going to call it the fourth wall… mostly because of the title of this post.
We are used to using our eyes and ears when working with technology—through dings and chirps that let us know we have an alert, or through the screen you’re reading this content on. We even use touch to interface with our devices via the vibrate alerts or keyboard and mouse clicks. But what about affecting our surroundings in a different way through that sound, or—even better—breaking the fourth wall with smell?
LG has recently created a new smartphone that allows the user to repel insects through a sound emitted from the phone body. The tone is outside the range of human hearing—even beyond that of teenagers—but is ideal for, heh, annoying mosquitos. The repellent innovation is being promoted as a way to help prevent blood-borne pathogens often carried by the tiny pests, like malaria.
Now, if only they had an app for getting rid of annoying co-workers...