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Using Mobile Phones To Write Messages In Air 65

Posted by samzenpus
from the invisible-ink-2.0 dept.
Anonymous writes "Engineering students at Duke University have taken advantage of the accelerometers in emerging cell phones to create an application that permits users to write short notes in the air with their phone, and have that note automatically sent to an e-mail address. The 'PhonePoint Pen' can be held just like a pen, and words can be written on an imaginary whiteboard. With this application a user could take a picture with a phone camera, and annotating it immediately with a short caption. Duke Computer Engineering Professor Romit Roy Choudhury said that his research group is envisioning mobile phones as just not a communication device, but a much broader platform for social sensing and human-computer interaction. Such interactivity has also emerged in the work of other research groups, such as MIT's Sixth Sense project, Dartmouth's MetroSense project, and Microsoft Research's NeriCell project, to name a few."
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Using Mobile Phones To Write Messages In Air

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  • Reading back? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:04AM (#28290741) Journal
    this does not seem to have big practical use as of now, if only for the fact that if you do not have access to a screen, for reading what you wrote or sketched, it seems to me unusable. On the other hand, if you are at your desk, the mouse does its job quite well, thank you.

    Having said that, it looks like a Wiimote for everyone, and the possibilities are mind boggling. Think of Smart houses, in which by moving your mobile you can raise or lower the air conditioning and such.
    • Re:Reading back? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by syousef (465911) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @06:19AM (#28290995) Journal

      Having said that, it looks like a Wiimote for everyone, and the possibilities are mind boggling. Think of Smart houses, in which by moving your mobile you can raise or lower the air conditioning and such.

      No! No! No! No! and No!

      This is a fantastic geeky little project. Please do not try to make it into something truely practical. It's a gimmick. A new technology needs to improve on the old. I could imagine using this to draw for example, but how does this slow method of entry beat the keypads we currently have on phones? Have you ever seen the speed with which a phone addicted teenage girl texts??? A new technology is only practical and should only be pushed if it actually makes things easier! Compared to a simple keyboard this method is ass.

      • i don't think any new application of any technology should be dismissed as "This is a fantastic geeky little project. Please do not try to make it into something truely practical. It's a gimmick." it quite well maybe a very great new technique, you just can't see it yet.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by syousef (465911)

          News flash: Writing on an imaginary whiteboard is not as efficient as typing in text.

          Did you not even read the part where I said it might be good for drawing?

          That's not dismissive. I swear slashdot has gone to the fucking dogs lately. Anything remotely unpopular is shouted down as trolling. Makes Digg look like intelligentsia.

          • yeah, everything's all right but i never said anything about you being a troll. and i think you might want to reconsider your comment comparing digg to /. because it is highly absurd.
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by Golddess (1361003)

        Have you ever seen the speed with which a phone addicted teenage girl texts???

        No, but I seem to recall hearing about a texter being beaten by good old fashioned morse code (and the texter was allowed to use shorthand while the morse code person either wasn't or chose not to).

    • What we need, after this, is mobile phones with screens as well!

      That would be so useful....

    • Till you get annoyed at the thing and peg it at a wall.(It kept turning off:( )

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It would be nice to have this available to sign for packages, I hate those tiny screens they have you try put some resemblance of your signature on.

    • Re:Reading back? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rolfwind (528248) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @07:38AM (#28291311)

      Think of Smart houses, in which by moving your mobile you can raise or lower the air conditioning and such.

      I'm sorry, but I would not want something as expensive as airconditioning controlled by a few flicks of the wrist on some phone. Most anything I have seen from smart houses I would not want in my home. Old-fashioned mechanical switches were 1000x more reliable than any digital switch I ever had, and any convenience or imagined savings went out the door when the digital switches, easily 10x more expensive, inevitably broke down 10x sooner. I still shudder to think about the ceiling fans that had impossible to find propietary wall switches.

      Programmable thermostats, photoelectric sensors, and timers is where I draw line. They're also about the only items that need regular replacement, can't imagine what an entire smart house would cost, probably much more just in idle electrical cost like the rest of the always-on gadgets of today let alone maintenance.

      Until houses are built truly smart [wikipedia.org] that promise real savings I'm not sure what so smart about these gadget homes.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Most anything I have seen from smart houses I would not want in my home. Old-fashioned mechanical switches were 1000x more reliable than any digital switch I ever had

        Old-fashioned mechanical switches went mercury a long time ago because switch points were a potential source of fire.

        The ideal situation to me is like that with typical automotive power door locks. There's a manual control which can be shifted by an automatic one. For instance you could have some of those large, "decorative"-type switches with two smallish solenoids behind it, to replace a switch. The thermostat can be a metallic strip type (I've seen about as many of those fail as electronic types, but I'l

  • Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zouden (232738) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:18AM (#28290787)

    "an application that permits users to write short notes in the air with their phone, and have that note automatically sent to an e-mail address."

    My god! They've invented text messaging from a phone, but... worse.

    • There was an app for this posted to the app store several months ago. You hold the phone in your hand and just wave it around wildly and spell words out with the persistence of vision effect. While I imagine it might be a neat trick, I've got to wonder how many phones have met their untimely demise after being accidentally thrown this way. I like my phone too much to download this app.

      • Every phone on the market, with the exception of the iPhone, has an attachment hook that's mainly used these days by teenage girls to attach decorations. You should be able to attach a stock Wiimote strap to your phone without too much trouble... although I wouldn't recommend stress-testing it.

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      and what sort of sad person wants to email themselves?

    • by cellurl (906920)
      It may be a new type of palm-esque-anote language. Gestures like a stenographer. Similar to sign language ASL. Would be fun to watch it unfold!
    • I keep thinking of the guy that is drawing objects in the air that become "real" ... doors and hair dryers and such. OK, this is akin to writing long-hand with the phone (which is so wonderfully efficient that the world invented keyboards), but still ...
  • Not really that original, there as an iphone app for this on the App store about a week after the app store opened. That was, what, almost a year ago?

    • by Ren Hoak (1217024)
      About three years ago I was in Korea, contracting at a mobile phone manufacturer for a while. Their latest phone (Pantech... I can't recall the model number but it was destined for the Russian market) had an accelerometer and they had experimental software to allow you to dial by "Drawing" your numbers in the air. It definitely looked silly to see someone using this, as you had to draw fairly large numbers to make it work, but it worked.
  • I can always tell how clever an idea is by the amount of instant envy I feel for not having thought of it first. ;-)  But seriously, for somebody like me with *large* handwriting, writing in the air would be way easier than scrawling along on a little phone screen.

    I can't wait to try it out.  Sure seems obvious in restrospect (another sign of a brilliant idea).
    • but why does your font look like CODE?
      oh no! he's already posting with this new accelero-board!
  • I keep hearing that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".

    And, we keep getting closer and closer to having "magic wands".

    In a few years we'll all be wandering around waving our hands wildly and murmuring gibberish, and yes, we will all be wizards.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rumith (983060)
      Once upon a time many centuries ago...

      Merlin (shaking and waving his wand with no obvious result): What do you mean my account has been suspended?
      A magic hand appears out of thin air and points to something on the huge stone nearby.
      Merlin: Damned fine print, damned greedy telcos. I should have bought an unlocked one.
  • Boy, I bet that would go over well in a movie theater.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:59AM (#28290923)
    It would probably allow Italians to have two conversations at once.
  • H2G2 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by s1lverl0rd (1382241)

    For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive--you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.

    -- Douglas Adams

  • From the headline I expected this to be about some persistence of vision [ladyada.net] application. Now that would be cool. Just imagine people waving their cellphones at each other.

  • permits users to write short notes in the air with their phone

    Sort of like a touch-screen, but far more effort?

    a user could take a picture with a phone camera, and annote it immediately with a short caption

    Sort of like a touch-screen, but far more effort?

    If only someone would invent a phone that had both an accelerometer and a touch-screen. They could make a fortune!

  • Checklist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @06:49AM (#28291107) Homepage Journal

    Novel: Check
    Excellent thesis topic: Check
    Accolades from fellow CS geeks: Check
    Impressive on resume: Check
    Realistically useful: Uncheck

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by that IT girl (864406)
      Agreed... I don't know about the rest of you, but I type much, much faster than I write. Even on my phone, texting with T9 (no QWERTY keyboard on my phone, ya sissies) I can tap out a message much more quickly and tirelessly than waving my phone around for ages.
      Also, I could see this having huge problems. Even on the Nintendo DS, where the stylus actually touches the screen, it doesn't recognise the way I write a few letters and numbers. I would think the margin for error is even worse in the air, when yo
  • Oops! (Score:3, Funny)

    by qpawn (1507885) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @06:52AM (#28291121)

    The best part is you can flip the device over when you make a mistake and pretend to pour Wite-Out®.

  • So the MIT sixth sense project, how does the program know what it's looking at?
  • By all means use this to record sensitive information, I'll just make sure I'll be near you when you're doing it to read whatever it is you're writing.

    An interesting toy, but I see absolutely no realistic widespread uses of this what so ever.

  • Celphone "real world" fps, except you point your phone at people.

  • I can just see it now: people standing in public, making ridiculous and distracting swooping motions, so they can post pointless and misspelled updates to twitter. "This lne at coffe shop is 2 long"

  • Thank God that I have lived to see these days. Today I can buy a phone that let's me "tweet" and "blog" and wave my hands in the air like some demented loon who's conducting an orchestra only he can see. Instead of, you know, being a PHONE.

    In today's world, instead of using my phone to make a phone call, I can wave my phone in the air while holding my bottle of non-water-flavored water as I stand in line to buy non-coffee-flavored coffee. And I can watch pigs glow under UV light. How did I ever survive be
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I bought a Windows Mobile phone (HTC Fuze) which is one of those platforms which definitely makes phone calls seem like an afterthought. You know what? I love it. Maybe not everyone needs to carry a keyboard with them everywhere they go, but I adore the opportunity. Maybe everyone doesn't want their phone to be a navigation system, mp3 player, still and video camera, flash light, instant messenger, web browser, blah blah blah... That's fine. But they're fucking insane.

      Once upon a time, I had a camera in my

      • If we haven't blown ourselves up or reverted to feudalism complete with castles and dysentery, in a few generations our descendants (maybe not yours or mine, but anyway) will be consulting the internet via their direct-neural interface and snickering at protestations about one portable device that people are carrying anyway doing too much.

        Well, it better be a few generations from now, because I don't take guff from wired-up brains floating in jars full of fancy liquids.

  • threatens to completely change the meaning of "mime" in the context of e-mail.
  • Here's how to make this REALLY functional:
    1. Put the acelerometers inside a pen shaped wedge piece of the phone.
    2. Make it detachable.
    3. Make it wireless (Bluetooth)

    Voila... Pen annotation for phones.

    Hell, you could make this an accessory for existing smartphones...

    Umm, I think I shlould head to a patent lawyer office RIGHT NOW!!!

  • at least i won't have to listen.

Parts that positively cannot be assembled in improper order will be.

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