Many companies have tried to endow their people-oriented products with 3D movement recognition, but because of the complexity of the technology involved, only one has succeeded so far. Samsung has developed a system that enables a mobile device to sense the speed and direction of its continuous movement in space through a built-in accelerometer, a specialized mechanism that senses motion. The six-axis sensor perceives the direction and the speed of the device’s movement with great precision. Gathered signals are ascertained and processed by a sophisticated algorithm, also developed by Samsung, to recognize alphanumeric symbols and certain human gestures.
The Samsung SCH-S310 cell phone—and the first manifestation of Samsung’s movement recognition technology—enables the user to “write” numbers or letters in the air instead of punching them into a keypad. For example, the user can “write” the number “5” while holding the phone and the phone dials “5.” Drawing “O” or “X” in the air corresponds to a voice message “yes” or “no,” respectively. Shaking the phone twice ends the call if you are currently on it or, if you’re not, deletes spam messages. Moving the phone left and right navigates through menus, such as mp3 playlists. Another interesting feature of SCH-S310 is the “motion beat box” function that enables the user to select from a menu of available sounds, such as “tambourine,” and when the phone is shaken, the sound is re-created in rhythm with the motion. The music performance function does the same only with actual music.
Samsung’s promises even more functionality on future models using this technology. While taking a picture or shooting a video, the user will be able to switch from portrait to landscape mode. Furthermore, pictures will no longer be blurred by hand movement. Gamers will be particularly pleased because instead of buttons, they will be able to control the game by moving the phone up, down, left and right.
Although it’s still difficult to imagine people on the streets waving around and shaking their phones, undoubtedly, some of these features will enhance the functionality of mobile devices. Movement recognition technology, in general, looks very promising and is likely to revolutionize many interactive electronic devices.
The Samsung SCH-S310’s creators believe this technology makes interacting with phones more natural. Our electronic tools are simply becoming extensions of ourselves. Now that there are no buttons and styli to get between us and our gadgets, why stop at movement? Perhaps our PDAs will soon intercept our neural signals and simply read our thoughts.