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Crying Wolf With Keyguard

Posted by richunger on December 14, 2005 at 12:41 PM PST

This is going to be the most off-topic post I've done yet, but it's a UI issue, and a potentially very dangerous one, and I thought my few readers might get a kick out of this.

Yesterday, I received a call on my new cell phone from the police emergency switchboard. They said, "We have an open circuit on your cell phone. Is there an emergency?" There wasn't, and I felt suitably shamed to have wasted valuable 911 switchboard time.

So should Sanyo UI engineers.

I upgraded my 5-year old Sanyo cell phone to their newest stick (non-flip) model. I like the stick models. Just a personal preference. The important thing about stick phones is that you need keyguard. Keyguard is when you set the phone to not accept input unless you hold down one particular button for a few seconds. This prevents the exposed keypad from accidentally dialing while it's in your pocket.

Well, my new phone has keyguard. It also has a special emergency "feature" which overrides keyguard to let you dial 911 without losing those precious few seconds it takes to turn off keyguard. You can't dial anything else except 911. You can't dial 119, or 919 ... just 911. In other words, at first, no key works except 9. Then, no key works except 1. Then, again, nothing but 1 will produce a result.

Do you see where I'm going with this? If the phone is in my pocket, and ALL the buttons are mashed long enough, it is guaranteed that the phone will dial 911.

Here in the Bay Area, 911 switchboards are already undermanned. Now we have Sanyo phones tying up the phone lines with button-mashing calls.

Thanks a lot, Sanyo.