back to article Software to turn iPhones, Pres into virtual pens grabs award

An undergraduate engineering student in America has won an award for developmental software which allows accelerometer-equipped smartphones - for instance the renowned Jesus Mobe and new kid the Palm Pre - to be used as "pens" for writing or drawing on the air in front of a user. Text or images are generated within the phone and …


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  1. Carlos T
    Thumb Up


    That sound's similar, if a lot lot lot more advanced to an application I wrote for the iPhone! Mine was just to draw in the air for long exposure photos. Shame I didn't have the skills to develop it further! Good luck to them I say.

  2. Dave 113
    Thumb Down

    Graffitti / Newton

    So, Apple gave handwriting recognition their best shot with the Newton, Palm have given up on Graffitti at long last, MS have never come up with anything useable, despite repeated attempts, but these jokers think they have it cracked at last, and can do it without the benefit of any feedback? I doubt it somehow.

  3. Martin Lyne


    Pen and paper.


    No? Not good enough?

    Wave device around like a loon?

    Oh.. you like that one.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully android too...

    ...'cos this sounds pretty cool.

  5. jai


    i can't see when this would ever be more useful than just opening a Notes app and typing using a keyboard (viritual or real)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Wait, what?

    Wasn't this done ages ago? Also, aren't accellerometer pens crap? They were last time I tried them, though that was with a Wiimote and a whole load of vector resolution maths so the lag probably made it seem worse than it was.

    Furthermore, taking a photo and drawing notes on it is exactly what I do already with my HTC Kaiser in meetings or when looking at pieces of kit in the lab. Or does the iPhone lack the ability to edit images (even to the level of Paint) after they're taken as well as all its' other shortcomings?

  7. Joe K
    Thumb Down


    Stupidest goddamn thing i've heard of all week.

    Yeah, cos waving around like an idiot for 10 minutes to write an email is really much more convienient than the iphones touch keyboard or regular T9.


  8. Daniel 2 Silver badge

    Another idea

    Has anybody developed an app yet where you can 'strobe' messages in the air, much like those novelty clocks you can buy with the swinging arm and LEDs? You know, the one where the thing sits there whirring like a dervish and posing a hazard to pets and small children, while the time/date automagically 'hangs' in mid-air?

    If somebody developed an app where you wave your arm (holding the phone tight of course), the accelerometer works out relative velocity and the screen 'strobes' your message, I'd buy it and I guess it'd be relatively simple to develop (IANAD)

    PS if it doesn't already exist and you're going to make your fortune with it, please at least make a version for the Nokia N95 8GB - cuz I'z got one of thoz (Lolcats FTW)

  9. Jerome 1


    Pratt school eh? Makes sense.

    Honestly, how many accelerometer-equipped phones don't also have a touch screen? How many people would choose to wave their arms around like an idiot, rather than just USE THE DAMN TOUCH SCREEN?

    On the other hand, Daniel2's idea, the wavy strobe message app, is genius. I'd be very surprised if there isn't a whole bunch * of iPhone developers slapping their foreheads at this very moment, and rushing to get the app written first.

    * what is the collective noun for iPhone developers anyway?

  10. Vision Aforethought
    Paris Hilton

    Write on! Thinking about it...

    ...if he could apply this tech to a small (finger) ring, and use Bluetooth to transmit to a nearby storage device, phone etc, then one would not need to wave ones gadget around in the air like Magnus Puke after a double espresso and Red Bull. You could in fact probably wiggle your hand around in your oversized pocket taking notes almost in secret...

    "Is that your index finger in your pocket or are you just happy to see me in a wibbly wobbly sort of way?"

    Paris, because she likes gadget lads with large flexible objects in their pockets.

  11. WhatWasThat?

    New iPhone App for Accelerometer Use

    Here we go - documented in El Reg in case some one tries to underswipe the patent, eh? :) This would allow any (!) phone to use an arbitrary sized desktop in any location.

    Bluetooth laser projector onto a surface (wall, screen, back of a coworker, etc) gives a wireframe desktop. Phone is used in combination with Accelerometer and Camera to record/track movements against the projected desktop, allowing the user to use the phone as a stylus. Tapping or double-tapping the screen of the phone in your hand with your finger equates to similar actions with a mouse, holding allows drag-and-drop operations, interaction with icons in the wireframe desktop perform application specific tasks.

    First iteration would be monochrome LED (like the laser keyboards), and later generations can be color as projection tech gets cheaper/smaller. Forseeable problems include calibration when first setup/used due to differing distance to surface between setups, drifting causing the phone to lose its place due to low res accelerometers, etc. But I think this would be useful and a possible precursor to my favorite Minority Report style interface.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    Where's the damn video of wildly gesticulating demo units?

  13. fluffy

    @Daniel 2

    That was exactly the thought that first came to mind when I started reading this article as well. That would actually be pretty neat.

  14. Dr Patrick J R Harkin


    We have a device sold on the capability of its touch screen...

    Which is used, every day, to send millions of e-mails and texts entered via said touch screen...

    And a great idea is to use the accellerometer as an input device.

    What's that you say, Skippy? Someone has fallen down the well and cracked his head?

    Certainly sounds like it.

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