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Motion-sensing comes to mobile phones

The same technology used in Nintendo's popular Wii video game console that lets you bowl strikes and hit tennis volleys like you're Venus Williams is also making its way into mobile handsets.

Responding to a flick of the wrist or sweep of the arm, tiny sensors called accelerometers, which measure linear acceleration in the Wiimote game controller, translate motion into action on the screen. When the technology is added to a cell phone, the handset's utility changes in several intriguing ways. It can, for example, function as a motion-sensing mouse that lets you browse the mobile Internet by tilting the device left, right, up or down. It even can allow you to monitor a fitness workout by measuring the number of steps you take, your speed and the calories burned.

Experts say this is just the beginning. As accelerometers advanced from one-axis to two-axis to three-axis measurement capabilities, their accuracy has improved dramatically. And some companies, such as the 3-year-old start-up Invensense, are taking the technology a step further by combining three-axis accelerometers with gyroscopes, which measure rotation speed, to create even-more accurate sensors that could be used to improve photo stabilization and location and navigation services.

Analog Devices, one of the largest manufacturers of accelerometers, has already supplied more than 300 million of the devices to consumer electronics makers over the past decade, but Christophe Lemaire, the company's marketing manager, said the market is set to explode as more of these components make their way into cell phones.

"My sense is we are on the edge of seeing an explosion of more and more devices using motion sensors, and specifically MEM (microelectromechanical) accelerometers," he said. "We are already working with all the tier one phone manufacturers as well with other third-party application developers to fuel this explosion."

[Accelerometers] can also be used to help people operate their phones without using a keypad. The Samsung SCH-S310, introduced in Asia in 2005, uses a three-axis accelerometer that allows a user to dial the phone by "writing" numbers in the air.

The Sharp V603SH, sold by Vodafone in Japan since 2005, also uses three-axis accelerometers to allow users to scroll through menus by moving the handset up, down, left or right. Users can also use the motion-sensing technology to turn their phone into a controller for mobile games, including one that allows users to swing the handset like a golf club and hit golf balls on a virtual driving range.
Another brick in the foundation for consumer augmented reality...!

1 comments:

At March 25, 2007 at 4:46 AM Anonymous said...

Gesture-based AR, anyone?

 

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