Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Smartphones That Know When & Where To Move

New DoCoMo phones, which are being released in Japan this month, will initially use the motion-sensing technology for games. Later in the year, the phones will be able to use gesture-sensing for map browsing. Image Credit: GestureTek

Smartphones That Know When & Where To Move

A new type of technology is making its way to the cellphone platform. The mobile phone has played host to GPS, Cameras, Symbology (barcode) Scanning, Walkie-Talkies, Bluetooth Broadcasting, MP3 Music, and more.

Well, there is a new application in town. It is a technology that comes from the world of video games and it is now being applied to the cellphone. The technology allows the phone to sense motion and gestures which are then interpreted to bring direction motion to the display images on the screen.

We already can imagine how this would be useful in games displayed on the phone, but this technology may be of greater benefit to the user when it allows one to scroll around screen images that are larger than the display screen itself.

With just a flick of the wrist, one can move around scroll menus, maps, photos, web pages designed for computer displays – all without touching the pad keys on the phone.

In the emerging Web 2.0 world of mobility, this technology is a pretty smart move!

Motion Sensing - Shake, Rock, & Roll - Image Credit: GestureTek

Excerpts from CNET News -

Technology brings motion-sensing to camera phones
Marguerite Reardon - CNET News.com

A company that supplies motion-sensing technology for videogames is bringing that technology to mobile phones.

Earlier this week, GestureTek announced that NTT DoCoMo in Japan would be embedding the EyeMobile gesture-recognition technology into two new FOMA 904i series handsets.

The new DoCoMo phones, which are being released in Japan this month, will initially use the motion-sensing technology for games. Later in the year, the phones will be able to use gesture-sensing for map browsing. Eventually, the technology will also be used for motion-controlled menu scrolling, picture browsing and mobile Internet surfing, company executives said.

Motion-sensing technology has recently come into vogue with the huge success of Nintendo's Wii games console, which enables people to hit tennis volleys like they're Andrew Murray. The Wii uses tiny embedded devices called accelerometers that detect motion. Some handset makers, such as Nokia, Samsung, LG and even newcomer Apple, are using accelerometer technology to provide some kind of motion-sensing capability in a handful of handset models.

The software supports three main types of motion: shake, rock and roll. Shake can be used for actions such as rolling dice and shuffling MP3 decks. Rock interprets right, left, up and down gestures to generate traditional cursor-style user input commands. Roll offers joystick control by responding to tilting motions used in navigating games, maps or Web pages.
GestureTek is over 20 years old. The company got its start developing camera-based motion-sensing technology for museum installations. It then moved on to providing technology for digital signage, retail displays and devices such as the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Sony PlayStation 2 EyeToy.

The deal with DoCoMo is the first time the company has licensed its technology to be embedded in mobile phones. The company has licensed its software to third-party BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) developers to create games for Verizon Wireless subscribers. But in that case, the software is downloaded as part of the game and is not used for more advanced motion-sensing navigation applications.
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This description of the new EyeMobile Engine software from GestureTek -

The EyeMobile Engine is a software-only solution that uses the existing camera on mobile phones to enable innovative mobile device interfaces and applications through real-time motion control.

An intuitive alternative to conventional mobile phone interfaces, EyeMobile allows you to do anything you would normally do with the device, such as...

Answer calls
Make a menu selection
Scrolling, pan, and zooming
Control games with hand motion

Instead of using small and cumbersome device buttons, EyeMobile enables you to use real-life motion for game control:


EyeMobile Engine API for Developers -

A convenient environment for authoring EyeMobile-enabled applications for OTA and pre-embedded delivery to mobile devices, the EyeMobile Engine application programming interface (API) provides application developers with the means to integrate motion control with applications much the same way as with current analog controls such as keys and buttons.

The EyeMobile Engine SDK for OEMs -
Provides mobile device manufacturers with an ideal development environment for embedding EyeMobile Engine features.

Shake, Rock & Roll

Shake, Rock, and Roll are the EyeMobile Engine's three levels of tracking. Shake provides the amount of “shake” as a single value that the programmer can use as an input for such actions as shuffling MP3 play lists, throwing dice, etc. Rock is a gesture recognition system built on top of the Roll engine; Roll provides joystick-style input control.

The EyeMobile Shake extension provides developers with a “force of motion” control interface. Applications can then be controlled by how vigorously the user shakes the mobile device. Whenever a frenetic user-action is appropriate, the EyeMobile Shake extension may be implemented.

Rock & Roll
The EyeMobile RocknRoll extension provides the ability to control an application either by rocking the mobile device (i.e. flicking forward and back or side to side) or rolling it (i.e. tilting it from side to side or up and down). The RocknRoll extension presents the opportunity to control applications based upon rock, roll, or a combination of the two. With Rock, you can use the flick of a wrist to answer a call or simulate a throw. Use Roll to turn the pages of a document or for steering and navigation. Combine Rock and Roll to simulate mouse or joystick control.


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