A caller ID globe is an electronic device that projects the name and phone number of incoming callers across a translucent, often luminescent sphere. In order to function properly, the device must be connected to a phone line that supports caller identification, or “caller ID,” technology. Most globes are wireless, operating on battery power and radio frequency signals. They come in a range of colors, styles, and sizes, but all serve the same general purpose of making caller ID information more visible.
In most parts of the world, telecommunications infrastructures are set up such that telephones are capable of recognizing incoming callers’ phone numbers and, often, names. This telephone service is known as “calling line identification” (CLID), “calling number identification” (CNID), and “caller identification” (CID) interchangeably. Most of the time, phones with these capabilities display names and numbers on small screens connected to the base unit. A caller ID globe is an external unit that is able to read the base’s data, then display it in a new way.
Most globes are freestanding, battery-operated units that pick up ID signals using radio frequency identification. The electronics involved are not usually complicated, as the globes’ primary function is to receive and display information that has already been processed. Users will generally need to sync the caller ID globe to a phone base station, but this is often achieved with little more than a simple homing signal. So long as the globe stays in range of the base, it will display the same information as the phone at the same time.
Ranges vary by manufacturer, but usually extend at least 100 feet (about 30 meters). Signals can generally pass through walls, which means that a caller ID globe can be placed almost anywhere in a moderately sized home or office. This enables CID users to monitor incoming calls without having to actually look at their phones.
Elderly phone patrons and those who suffer from mobility impairments often find the large display of the globe caller ID helpful, as it enables them to see who is calling with a simple glance in the globe's direction. In this way, users can monitor calls without having to move to the phone unless the call is one they want to take. Globes that light up when a call is coming in are often also helpful for persons with impaired hearing.
A caller ID globe is often much more than just a useful tool: it can also be an attractive accessory. Globes come in a wide array of bold and bright colors, and can sometimes be made to change tint based on caller, area code, or time of day. Information can usually be made to flash, scroll, or stand static, and often takes on something of a three-dimensional characteristic as it floats across the spherical face of the device. Depending on the model, the globe may also be able to display the current time, programmed reminders, or a standard greeting when idle.