We recently told you about a paper-thin electronic film that could stream-line your smartphone into something as thin and flexible as an index card, but some German researchers are now working on a system to complete the ultimate vanishing act.
Patrick Baudisch, professor of computer science at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany, and his team of students are developing a device that turns the palm of your hand into an interface capable of performing the same actions as your smart phone. Instead of swiping and tapping your finger across your phone, you simply do so across your palm.
Their Imaginary Phone relies on a depth-sensitive camera, similar to ones used in Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox, that would detect the swiping and tapping motions on your hand. The concept also contains software to analyze the video and a wireless radio to send instructions back to your phone.
Baudisch and his colleagues believe the imaginary phone prototype could liberate users from actually having to physically retrieve a device when answering a call. Imagine answering your "hand" while stir-frying vegetables for dinner, planting tulip bulbs in the garden or scrubbing greasy plates in the sink without even needing to reach for a towel first.
In test runs of the device, the depth camera was affixed to a head-mounted rack that is anything but inconspicuous. However, the team envisions future models being fitted with a camera so small that it could easily integrate into clothing, for example, as the button of a shirt.
Grand marshaling the project is a study the team submitted to the User Inerface Software and Technology conference, held in Santa Barbara, Calif., this October. The study shows that participants could accurately recall the position of two-thirds of their smartphone apps on a blank phone and with similar accuracy on their palm. Apps used more frequently were able to be recalled with up to 80 percent accuracy.
Though we don't advocate blindfolding yourself and testing your Jedi smart phone skills, may the force be with you.
[via Technology Review]
Photo: Hasso-Plattner-Institut, Sean Gustafson, Christian Holz and Patrick Baudisch