Accelerometers To Power Innovation In Phones Of The Future - InformationWeek

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4/11/2008
11:16 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Accelerometers To Power Innovation In Phones Of The Future

ABI Research says the cool spatial interactivity features we've seen in the Apple iPhone and Nintendo Wii are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how we'll use accelerometers to interact with technology in the future. Prognosis? The sky is the limit.

ABI Research says the cool spatial interactivity features we've seen in the Apple iPhone and Nintendo Wii are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how we'll use accelerometers to interact with technology in the future. Prognosis? The sky is the limit.Accelerometers can be used for some decidedly neat applications. We all know about the iPhone's ability to shift between vertical and horizontal views just by turning it on its side. Same goes for how gamers use the Wii to interact with the game on the screen by swinging the Wii remote around. This is just the beginning, says ABI Research analyst Douglas McEuen.

"Other major game console manufacturers are following Nintendo's lead in seeking accelerometer applications for their next-generation products," he says. "But games are only one use for these specialized devices. They are already widely used in automotive airbag systems (where the high sales volume has helped drive down prices.) They can measure vibration in industrial machinery; they are used in exercise step-counters, and we will see them in growing numbers of other phones and PDAs."

I've seen prototype phones that allow you to pan and scan around different applications, such as the Web browser, by tilting the device. The accelerometer uses for handset gaming are nearly unlimited. And there's more simple things, such as turning a cell phone over to silence a call, or shake it to turn off an alarm.

"In the very creative consumer electronics market," adds McEuen, "the sky's the limit. The growth rate of this market will be determined by the imaginations of designers as they think up innovative and unexpected ways to incorporate accelerometers into new devices. The arrival of another wildly popular consumer product that sells large numbers worldwide could give this market a significant boost."

Perhaps the coming new firmware version of the iPhone paired with the SDK will give us a better example of what accelerometers can do. If developers are allowed to tap into the functionality of the accelerometer, they'll be able to create applications that make use of it. What they create could be a hint of things to come.

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