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Motion sensors as future device controls?

updated 10:35 am EST, Tue March 22, 2005

Motion sensors

With the mouse entering its fifth decade, it could "perhaps be on the verge of retirement -- at least if a combination of Apple Computer engineering and the work of enterprising hackers bears fruit," Wired News speculates. The article looks at using to control programs. The article cites programs by Amit Singh, the researcher whose work has sparked a wave of small yet useful tilt-sensitive programs. He discovered the motion sensor when working on a book about the internals of Mac OS X, and "was immediately struck by its potential." The article says small products, especially where space on the device for controls is limited, could benefit from the technology. "Imagine, for example, an iPod that drops the scroll wheel in favor of using tilt controls to navigate."




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Bad example

    So you want us to tilt the display in an unreadable position to scroll? Although it would be funny to see people "dance" with their iPods in an attempt to choose a song and see what they are choosing.

    Motion sensor controls could work, but not when they're directly attached to the feedback device (display).

  1. dogzilla

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Solution but no problem

    This is a solution looking for a problem. Maybe it's time to look at upgrading the current crop of input devices, but if you think the answer is to wave $3k laptops around you're nuts.

    What happened to speech interfaces? Seems like that whole concept dies on the vine. Now with Bluetooth and the increased processing power, it's viable to have a wireless earphone/mic that could give you almost complete control over the interface even in a crowded office. There's many other possibilities out there. But don't promote a technology as a useful interface evolution just because it's a cool hack.

  1. Wutzo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Mr. Singh must be strong

    Sliding something across a surface (like mouse) is much easier than titling something...

  1. Chris Paveglio

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    whats the cutoff?

    So how do you control sensitivity on the go? On a iPod, and i'm running or even walking, how well is 'tilt control' gonna work? Or on a bumpy bus or car, when you have some continuous movement thats not easily steadied? Or when I don't or can't tilt it, like on a dock or desk?

  1. ecrelin

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    silly idea

    yeah jogging would be an interesting experience. Now if you are using an aircraft navigation program (remember d*** rutan's odd assymetrical twin engine plane that ran off an original G3 powerbook and GPS?) I can see a real world autopilot application. Maybe a replacement for those hideous Kensington trackballs (ducking now) with some sort of tilting deal but other than one of those games where you tilt the board to get the balls to roll around a maze I cannot think of one way that this would work better than conventional built-in methods (if it worked for anything at all). Maybe if he fleshed out the potential that struck him it would help, but don't start with that "etch-a sketch" project, cute proof of concept but stupid and useless otherwise.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Could be fun

    They could add one of those "Get the metal balls into the holes" games to the iPod, and use the motion sensors to move the balls around! Talk about sweet! Of course, trying to find a song on an iPod could be just as irritating. "Tilt left, left, left, damn, passed it, now go right....oh c***, too high, down...down...almost...c***, missed it again!" (Hey, sounds like my love life!)

  1. ecrelin

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    oh, one idea

    If you put a sensor in a dataglove you could do away with any external sensors for positioning and then you could do SOME cool stuff but its still not floating my boat. Ummm, hey maybe they could use it as an inertia sensor to lock the heads of the hard drive if the machine is dropped or bumped!

  1. PookJP

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Maze Game...

    Anyone remember that game that had a marble in a maze, and you had to tilt the board to make it move around? Remember why that game was so hard? It was because tilting surfaces is imprecise and difficult for humans to grasp.

  1. beeble

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    ecrelin

    It would be no good as an autopilot because the tilt sensor doesn't tell you which way is up, it tells you what it thinks up to be. G forces can be in any direction. Ever been on a roller coaster? An autopilot needs to know exactly what's going on, that's why they operate with gyroscopes rotating at 50,000+ RMP and cost tens of thousands of dollars in many cases. The tilt sensor in a powerbook would think you're straight and level when in a 30 degree coordinated bank and initiating a gentle climb (due to the speed loss). Why? Because the g forces from that maneuver would be straight through the floor if it's done properly. If you were holding a cup of water during such a turn, the water would stay level relative to the cup, but if you looked out the window you'd see the 30 degree bank angle.

    Using the tilt sensor as an input device is a cool idea but there isn't a problem for it to solve. Perhaps making a game of rolling a ball around a maze based on tilting the PB would be a good application. It would require some work to accurately simulate the movement of the ball (acceleration, bouncing off obstacles) but it would make a good cheap shareware game.

  1. OtisWild

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Used in cars...

    ... It could be very cool to wire such a feature into a car with hydraulic/pneumatic suspension, whereby it would automatically adjust the struts depending on the car's degree of roll or dive. Imagine putting, say, a Golf GTI in a corner, and instead of having the inside rear tire lift you jack up the outside front a little based on the tilt. Reduce brake dive and improve braking by balancing some extra weight on the rear.

    Could be cool, especially coupled with something like GM's magnetic shocks..

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