You may not have heard of the Zumbafone before, but its makers are confident it could revolutionise the way you communicate. Of course, they won't tell you much more - because the Zumbafone is currently considered top-secret, even though it could be available in the UK by the end of the year.
The Zumbafone is a carefully shrouded device being developed by a British company called IA Technologies.
Within its Hereford-based headquarters, developers at IA Tech have been working on what they call the world's first fully accurate voice-controlled mobile phone. It's also, they say, the world's first 'backup replacement mobile' - meaning it stores all of its information on a remote server rather than on the phone itself. Because of that, your contacts and other data supposedly remain secure even if your phone is lost.
The Zumbafone is the size of a credit card and contains two interlocking pieces. One half snaps off to function as an all-inclusive earpiece-phone. The other, when connected, offers a more traditional keypad and screen.
This much we do know: once you attach the earpiece half, the Zumbafone links you to an internet portal called 'Zumba Lumba' that holds all of your information. Say the name of a contact, and you're instantly connected. Tap a button, and you can speak out a text message and send the message wherever you need. Incoming text messages are displayed on the screen half of the phone if you have it attached, or spoken aloud if you're wearing the earpiece.
The Zumbafone was designed by Dean McEvoy, who's listed as CEO of Zumba Limited, which may or may not be the same thing as "Zumba Lumba." McEvoy says he is dyslexic and has always struggled with tasks like typing and reading text messages. The Zumbafone is his four-years-in-the-works solution.
The device is expected to be on store shelves by the end of 2009. It's still seemingly too top-secret to be fully demoed, but a video on the Zumba Lumba site (tinyurl.com/de9x3t) gives a little more detail about the cryptic creation.