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Turning the palm of your hand into a smartphone interface


June 3, 2011

The "imaginary phone" recognizes gestures and the position of keys on your phone so you can perform simple smart phone tasks without taking it out of your pocket (Image: Hasso Plattner Institute)

The "imaginary phone" recognizes gestures and the position of keys on your phone so you can perform simple smart phone tasks without taking it out of your pocket (Image: Hasso Plattner Institute)

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Taking on the idea that daily smartphone use can create automatic touch recall, just like touch typing on a keyboard, students at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany, have created the "imaginary phone" concept that turns the palm of a hand into a smartphone touch interface. Using spatial memory built up while operating the physical device to remember gestures and the relative position of icons on the phone, users can perform simple smartphone tasks without even taking it out of your pocket.

The imaginary phone concept uses a depth-sensitive camera to detect hand gestures such as tapping and sliding, software to analyze the video, and a wireless radio to send the instructions back to the smartphone. Patrick Baudisch, professor of computer science at the Hasso Plattner Institute, and his colleagues believe that their concept could free users from physically retrieving a device to carry out the large number of "micro interactions" that users perform every day.

The imaginary phone "serves as a shortcut that frees users from the necessity to retrieve the actual physical device" says Baudisch. Unless the user is already wearing a Bluetooth headset, the concept probably won't be much use for answering calls - unless you like yelling at your pocket - but Baudisch says the concept would be more useful for sending calls to voicemail or turning off an alarm, for example.

During the research project, a depth camera was affixed to a mounted rack and proved to accurately sync gestures with a local iPhone. Whilst the setup is far from flashy, it serves the basic idea that once the technology has been mastered, micro cameras can be fixed into clothing materials, such as a shirt button, or reading glasses.

The "imaginary" technology is similar to what we've seen with Skinput and NEC's gesture control system, however it does eliminate the need for a projector and it doesn't rely on learning new hand gestures.

The system does, however, rely on users remembering the position of icons on the phone's display, so it will only be useful for commonly performed tasks - unless you've got a photographic memory. With that being said, it could definitely come in "handy" when you are driving or washing the dishes.

Watch the demo video below.

Via: MIT Technology Review

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

Here we go...As a Time cover page a few months ago suggested, we are about to become fused with machines. Goodbye homo sapiens; We\'re evolving into something else.

Stephen Shugart

Should we welcome the idea of becoming modern day primitives? Tattoo all kinds of keyboards and gesture oriented interfaces all over our bodies? What about this? Instead of wearing cameras on our heads, we can have them all over the place watching us for our \"convenience.\"

I still think people who go around talking out loud with a blue tooth look like they have a screw loose. Imagine what people would look like doing gesture oriented things all over their bodies?...

Randolph Directo
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