updated 05:03 am EDT, Tue October 16, 2012
Nokia N900 converted to vibrate when squeezed
A phone has been modified to be able to transfer a squeeze to another phone. A prototype by Nokia Research and the Helsinki Institute of Information Technology amended an N900 to use a resistor to detect up to four different levels of pressure from compression. The recipient of the phone call receives different levels of vibration, depending on the amount of pressure applied.
Demonstrated at the UIST conference by researchers to the MIT Technology Review, the phone had a force-sensitive resistor taped to one side, connected through a sensor board inside the microSD port of the N900. Depending on how much force it registers, it transmits pressure messages to the second handset, and the recipient can then interpret the vibrations felt depending on the context of the conversation taking place.
The system was tested by three couples in long-distance relationships, where some used the "Pressages" system as a "virtual cuddle", though a high-level squeeze and subsequently transmitted vibration was understood to be an expression of annoyance to one participating couple. Apparently other uses for the handsets were also discovered, but these were not revealed in the presentation.
Despite this proof of concept being seen to work, it is unlikely for this technology to appear in phones in the near future. The wear and tear the handset receives under squeezing shows current phones need a fundamental redesign of the hardware in order to cope with the forces involved.