Talking on Your Cell? Then Gesture!

Posted by: Olga Kharif on June 7, 2005

I just talked with Stephen Brewster, a professor of human-computer interaction at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He is trying to make driving and walking while talking on a mobile phone safer (and I know of a woman who drove her car off a bridge during a particularly involving conversation). His solution? Making phones recognize human gestures.

For the past couple of years, Brewster has been experimenting with HP's iPaq personal digital assistants, to which he'd added accelerometers and special software. Accelerometers are tiny devices that can discern your movements. So if you, say, lift your hand, gripping the mobile phone, the accelerometer will know that that's exactly what's happened.

Supplemented by a couple of sensors, such a phone will know when you nod. It can even recognize the letters you write out on the steering wheel in front of you, so you can text-message while watching the road.

That's great, you might say, but can't I do it all with voice recognition? Actually, no. Voice recognition doesn't work well in noisy environments. It also requires lots of computing power, which the gestures technology does not need, explains Brewster. Eventually, though, he sees the two technologies working together for our benefit.

Though the idea sounds very Sci-Fi, earlier this year, Samsung introduced the world's first cell phone with a built-in accelerometer, which can be used for scrolling: When you tilt the phone, a menu scrolls down. Most laptops' hard drives have an accelerometer built in, to protect the data in case the computer falls.

So adding the gestures capabilities might not be that expensive, Brewster argues. He recently talked about his research, currently funded by the British government, with the world's largest cell phone maker, Nokia.

Considering that lots of U.S. states are prohibiting talking on mobile phones while driving, perhaps this idea will take off. Nod to your cell phone if you agree!:-)

Reader Comments

Ganesh Sathyanathan

June 9, 2005 1:32 AM

Sounds promising, but still it requires part of the brain to command those gestures which still affects your concentration when you are doing something important, particularly while driving.

Smith

June 16, 2005 7:46 AM

Dear Olga Kharif,

you mentioned in your post that you talked with Mr Brewster a professor of human-computer interaction at the University of Glasgow, England. Hey I read a lot of different boards but I saw seldom someone without a view about the
so called "voice recognition or human-computer interaction market". Do the next time better research then you will find out that their is already a killer-application out for sale.

It works with windows XP media center 2005 perfect!

Have you every heard something about "One Voice media center communicator"?
Here are some retailers
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16832314001
or
www.onev.com/mcc
or
http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/winhec/exhibitors04.mspx
Why do you write not something about this?

best regards
Smith

Post a comment

 

About

Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

Categories

 

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!