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Input Devices Cellphones Toys Technology

Use Your Cellphone as a 3D Mouse 77

Roland Piquepaille writes "In recent years, we've started to use our cellphones not only for placing calls or exchanging messages. Now, we take pictures, read our e-mails, listen to music or watch TV. But, according to New Scientist, UK researchers are going further with a prototype software that turns your cellphone into a 3-D mouse. The phone is connected to your computer via Bluetooth. And you control the image on the screen by rotating or moving your phone. As says one of the researchers, 'it feels like a much more natural way to interact and exchange data.' The technology might first be used in shopping malls to buy movie tickets or to interact with advertising displays."
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Use Your Cellphone as a 3D Mouse

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  • Minority Report (Score:2, Insightful)

    by calebt3 ( 1098475 )
    So will I soon be able to have a Minority-Report-like interface for my computer?
  • Wii Remote anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LBt1st ( 709520 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:42PM (#22113160)
    Great, so I get to wait longer in line while each person ahead of me tries to sync up and use their bluetooth phone. This is the kind of stuff touch-screen were made for.
    What we have here is a solution looking for a problem.

    -Bean
    • by mattmcm ( 1143125 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:46PM (#22113194) Homepage
      Mod parent up. Whilst I can see it being a hassle at public kiosks, it may be useful at home where you're the only user. Johnny Chung Lee [cmu.edu] has a project similar to this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gotzero ( 1177159 )
      This is a fantastic point. On top of that, what part of bluetooth technology would be able to pin down 3D positioning?
      • The device determines it's orientation and transmits that data to the kiosk?
      • This is a fantastic point. On top of that, what part of bluetooth technology would be able to pin down 3D positioning?
        Given BT's short range, couldn't variances in the signal do it?
        • Return signal strength might be able to estimate distance, but only in 2D. I do not know enough about the bluetooth standards, and the article mentioned something about cameras, but I just see this as so awkward and limited in application. They do it with the Wii, but I think that is using accelerometers. Regardless I am still not too hot about the idea of waving my phone around. I do enough damage to them already. If this was anything like voice commands, I would probably throw the phone across the ro
      • by wiz_80 ( 15261 )
        A modicum of RTFA would show that Bluetooth is just the transport, and has nothing to do with positioning.

        Once a connection is established, the computer knows exactly where the phone is pointing because it places a reference target on top of the normal video feed and compares this to the phone's picture [using the phone's camera].

        The distance between the cellphone and the screen is based on the way the screen's size changes due to perspective.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Touch screens are horribly unsuitable for use by the public at large.

      Simply put they break.

      This system puts the device in the users hand and reduces physical interaction significantly, which reduces cost.
      • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @08:21PM (#22113744)
        The touch screens used by Transport for London in most major underground (subway) stations don't break. I wouldn't expect a consumer-grade touch screen to last 10 minutes though.
      • by Mr2001 ( 90979 )

        Touch screens are horribly unsuitable for use by the public at large.
        Tell that to Wells Fargo, with their thousands of touch-screen ATMs. Every one I've seen has worked just fine.
      • Yeah... those VLT machines in use since the 80's are SO UNRELIABLE. They go down at least once every 10 years!

        WTF are you smoking?
    • Have they learned nothing after the Wiimote? I can see it now - a sign next to a ticket purchasing kiosk in a mall - "Beware of flying phones!"

      ~Jarik
    • All your phone are belong to Applebees.
    • by frisket ( 149522 )
      It's not going to be any damn use to anyone while it remains impossible to adjust the step granularity of movement. Right now I can use my SE phone to control the cursor on my Gutsy lapdog, but each click moves the cursor far too much, and there doesn't appear to be anywhere to adjust this. Until they fix fundamental flaws like this, the rest is just pipe-dreams.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples.gmail@com> on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:47PM (#22113196) Homepage Journal
    What has changed in the three years and eight months since this story [slashdot.org]?
  • by blhack ( 921171 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:52PM (#22113250)
    I have said it before, and i will say it again:

    This type of interface is completely impractical, except for a few high specialized applications (like architecture).
    The problem with things like this is that your arm gets tired after using it for a few minutes. The great thing about a mouse is that you can take your hand off of it and it stays in the same place. I know that personally, I use the arrow and tab keys for navigation WAY more than i use my mouse.

    Mice work really really great because it is a 2D interface to a 2D environment.

    I would rather see grant money pumped into multi-touch than stuff like this.....its cool, its just not going to replace your mouse anytime soon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      right, another thing about 3d mice is that generally they're less precise- just clicking things can move the cursor elsewhere. really at this point, they're novelty items that don't really do a better job at anything compared to a 2d mouse. maybe 3d mice working in a "3d" environment like 3d design but not 3d in a 2d environment, that's just silly.
      • right, another thing about 3d mice is that generally they're less precise- just clicking things can move the cursor elsewhere.
        It's even worse when you consider that there are people who have trouble clicking the buttons on a normal mouse without moving it.
  • I kinda did this (Score:3, Informative)

    by gigne ( 990887 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:54PM (#22113258) Homepage Journal
    I had a go at doing this a while ago using AR toolkit plus [studierstube.org] which uses AR Tags [artag.net] as a reference point to send the mouse data to the computer. I never really did get the camera filter working so I abandoned it. I did ask Daniel Wagner (the lead guy on artoolkit plus) for the DSVideoCE component source, which is a CE directshow filter, but he replied that it wasn't possible to release it. CE is a pain in the backside so I gave up. It worked pretty well from a video file I pre-recorded, so I reckon it would have worked well.

    Pretty much everything about artoolkit plus worked out of the box, and the bluetooth code to emulate a mouse was pretty simple. if someone wants to give something like this article a bash, I would start with something like this.

    My 2p
  • Yeah, this is so worthwhile a technology.

    Still, I imagine there are people out there willing to find one more excuse to shake their cell phones around, people with money.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:56PM (#22113274) Homepage
    WE hear almost monthly how this or that will make it so we can buy movie tickets with our cellphones. grand experiments have been done all over the world to do this and every single one fails.

    I suggest they do something different, start with forcing all financial institutions to adopt a single standard for electronic payment and force them to accept it without fees or charges.

    THEN let's do the utopian buy everything with our cellphones trick. Hell it's been in place in europe in some places for almost 5 years now (German bus line, you pay your bus fare by waving your cellphone near the pay terminal)

    I'm tired of the wheel being reinvented monthly while nobody is inventing roads.

    Start with how to force banks to quit being assholes and create a universal OPEN electronic payment system that has ZERO cost.
    • ... and create a universal OPEN electronic payment system that has ZERO cost.

      Because it costs the bank something to set up/maintain the electronic payment system, it is not possible to have a zero cost system. (see TANSTAAFL [wikipedia.org] principle) However, a standardized system with standardized (reasonable) payments would certainly go a long way in the direction the parent poster intends.

    • An electronic payment system that has ZERO cost is impossible. I guess you probably mean one where retailers build the cost of it into their business and banks charge retailers rather than bank customers, but that still has a cost, just not a direct consumer cost.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Start with how to force banks to quit being assholes and create a universal OPEN electronic payment system that has ZERO cost."

      It's the perverse incentives of market economies that give rise to this kind of crap and why the banking industry needs to be regulated.

      In canada Pay day loan shops (i.e. legal loan sharking) is quite the business I wish government would shut it down, these parasites do not add anything to the economy.
      • We have those in the US, too. I can't figure out what they add to the economy, but I also can't figure out how they manage to get any customers.
      • by maxume ( 22995 )
        They are definitely bottom feeders. The problem with shutting them down is that it ends up pushing desperate people to the black market alternative -- loan sharks and so on.
    • it's been in place in Europe in some places for almost 5 years now (German bus line, you pay your bus fare by waving your cellphone near the pay terminal)

      Just like that, no other input needed? Suppose someone told you "let's meet by the bus terminal". You are just standing there, waiting. Will the phone in your pocket do the kindness to pay for everyone that comes by, without you realizing it?
    • Start with how to force banks to quit being assholes and create a universal OPEN electronic payment system that has ZERO cost.

      How are they supposed to make money? Who pays for fraud? Who pays for maintenance of the electronic infrastructure? Customer support?
  • not just yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MacarooMac ( 1222684 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @07:07PM (#22113340)
    Interacting with ticket machines and other public terminals? Think i'll stick to the dedicated interfaces they will continue to provide: more efficiet and more secure.
    Interacting with video advertising displays? Gee, I can't wait.

    Using my handset to interact with public devices will only be cool when I can stop the 07:43 train from taking off without me at Clapham Junction and when I can disable that stereo system the five punks in the Camaro Convertible have blasting my head off at the traffic lights. (Perhaps you can do this one already?)

    What you want is simply to interact with your handset which will replicate the public interface/display on its screen. I.e. Multiple users simultaneously accessing a terminal display and no more queues. Little need to control the external display except as a gimmick.
    • Re:not just yet (Score:4, Interesting)

      by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @08:35PM (#22113810)
      Quoting a rant I heard yesterday at about 3am:
      "Where the fuck is the bus map? Which bus do I need? What's wrong with this fucking city, there's a fucking plasma screen in the bus shelter but no fucking map."
      (That was at one of the bus shelters under Centre Point in London.) There was some kind of interaction with the advertisement, but I didn't see anyone pressing the buttons; I've only pressed them if I've been bored and alone. I don't mind video screens where I don't have to look at them for very long. I like the ones along the escalators in some stations: they're pretty cool, and the old station design (bold tiles etc) contrasts wonderfully with brushed steel LCD displays.

      (You're actually wanting the 0743 to be late? I (was) the one inside thinking "hurry up! Hurry up! Leave, dammit")

      Transmitting the display to the screen would be much, much more useful, that's a great idea. It could be pretty easily done with a website, WiFi and/or bluetooth (or similar) to transmit a URL to nearby devices.
    • ...and when I can disable that stereo system the five punks in the Camaro Convertible have blasting my head off at the traffic lights.
      You mean like this [xkcd.com]?
  • If you can't wait for the 3D cellphone mouse. Here are some links to selfmade 3D mouse pointer devices [repair4mouse.org]. BTW: at least one of these guides has been on ./ already.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 19, 2008 @07:36PM (#22113490)
    The amount of things that one can do with a cell phone is nothing short of amazing. And the end is nowhere near in sight yet: Manufacturers keep coming up with ever more creative, ingenious applications for the cell phone. Indeed, the only thing we can be positive about is that the cell phone service will remain overpriced, unreliable and limited in its coverage, while the sound quality will remain disappointingly awful. Well, at the very least we will be able to use it as a 3D mouse.
  • by Malevolent Tester ( 1201209 ) * on Saturday January 19, 2008 @07:38PM (#22113504) Journal
    But you can't right click.
  • Almost complete duplicate of the Wiimote in a cell phone. Bluetooth connection, interacting with objects and whatnot.
  • by Propaganda13 ( 312548 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @08:14PM (#22113714)
    Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages...Slashdot proudly brings to you, the USELESS ARTICLE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS OF THE WOOOOORLD!

  • Every 3D input device created over the last 15 years has failed without exception. They were either too expensive (datagloves for VR, various space navigator gizmos for CAD), or too crappy to be of any use (P5 glove?), or died because of lack of driver/software support.

    So if anyone wants to create a 3D input device that actually gets used by more than 5 people a) design it so it actually works well b) don't overprice it c) don't count on game or software companies to "support" it unless you create a really
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I heard Nintendo made this thing they call a Wii...
    • Every 3D input device created over the last 15 years has failed without exception.

      May I present the exception: SpaceNavigator [3dconnexion.com]. It is nothing like that waving around stuff but a simple knob with sensors detecting the force you apply. I got one some weeks ago and haven't had time to play with it a lot, but even so after some minutes it started to get quite intuitive.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0lz35Boe_I [youtube.com]

    uses the accelerometer and bluetooth.
  • by slapout ( 93640 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @10:28PM (#22114432)
    Does anyone else find it ironic that they want you to buy your movie tickets with your cell phone and then don't want you to bring your cell phone into the theater?
    • ...in gas stations when it is illegal to smoke there?
    • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

      Does anyone else find it ironic that they want you to buy your movie tickets with your cell phone and then don't want you to bring your cell phone into the theater?
      There's a great opportunity for "cell phone lockers", $2 per 1/2 hour !
  • What was wrong with touch screens again?

    How is this faster?

    How is this any different from using your finger to touch the display?

    Are touch screens so expensive that we need to find a free alternative to use normal LCDs instead?

  • I read this thinking it was going to be another Johnny Lee demonstration video. Thanks for nothing!
  • ...they want their wiimote back!
  • Thank god. I hate my current 1D mouse. And I can hardly wrap my mind around my 5D mouse.
  • With a normal mouse you may get RSI, but with a cellphone mouse you may get cancer from radiation too. How good!
  • The researchers forgot to mention the obvious applications of a 3D cellphone mouse on the new academic field of teledildonics. Too bad, they just lost a honorary PhD in Multidimensional Advanced Cellular Teledildonics. But other people will surely develop the new science quite soon. It won't be long until discussions such as this become increasingly common in university campuses and boring corporate meetings:

    • Beep! Beep! Beep!
    • A: Hey, is that your cellphone?
    • B: Opps, yeah...
    • Beep! Beep! Beep!
    • A: Won't yo
  • I frequently lay my cellphone next to my keyboard. Then, when I want to use the mouse, I'll accidentally grab the phone instead. After wasting a few cycles wondering why the cursor isn't responding, I look at my hand, place the cell phone a bit father from the keyboard, and grab the real mouse. It's only embarrassing if someone is looking over my shoulder.

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