[AI] Your phone as a mouse?

vishnu ramchandani vishnuhappy at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 28 03:33:47 EST 2008

Your phone as a mouse?

That might soon be the case, thanks to a new software
developed by British computer scientists...

IDG News Service

With the new technology, a user can move pictures on
the PC screen by simply pointing the cameraphone at
the screen and clicking and moving it around (right). 
The same method could be used to draw an image, such
as that of a house (left). The program also allows
users to zoom in and out of photos by moving the
phone closer and further away. Since the PC screen’s
content is also displayed on the phone’s screen, a
user can perform operations from a distance as
Imagine that you take a picture of your child using
your cell phone, while out for a walk. When you come
home, you might want to store this image on your
PC and print a copy using your PC printer. Wouldn’t it
be so much easier if you could do all of this just by
moving your cell phone in front of your PC

For example, you could look at the ‘My Documents’
folder through the cell-phone camera, and twist the
phone momentarily to open that folder. Do the same
for the ‘My Pictures’ folder, and then, by moving the
phone towards the PC screen, you could transfer all
the recently taken images to the PC over a Bluetooth

This is now possible, thanks to a new program
developed by Nick Pears at the University of York, UK,
and his colleagues Patrick Olivier and Dan Jackson
at the Newcastle University.

“The basic requirements for this technology are that
your phone has got to have a camera on the rear and a
wireless connection with the PC, such as Bluetooth,”
Pears says. 

And of course, you would need to have the program
installed on both, your PC as well as your


The camera on the phone looks at the PC screen and
extracts some features, such as the corners of
windows; their positions are sent from the phone to
PC over the Bluetooth link.

The PC then compares these positions with what it
knows that it is displaying on its own screen. Thus,
it can calculate precisely what the phone is looking
at on its screen. In human terms, it is like knowing
where your nose is, but being able to touch it
precisely on a point you desire by getting visual
from a mirror.

The computer can also calculate the phone’s position
and orientation relative to the PC screen. Thus, the
phone can be used as a six-degree of freedom
‘flying mouse’, a bit like the Wiimote – the
controller for Nintendo’s video game console Wii.

“But it is more than that,” Pears says. “Since you
have a cloned part of the PC screen on your cell phone
screen, you can interact with the PC screen through
the phone.”


Pears recently conducted some tests with random users
to see the usability of the technology.

In the tests, users were shown a set of images on the
screen, and asked to rearrange them according to a
pre-given order. The participants managed it easily.

By depressing a trigger button on the smartphone, the
user was able to manipulate the targeted image. The
images could be moved and rotated by mimicking
the action on the phone, parallel to the display

Users could also zoom in by moving the phone closer to
the screen, and zoom out by moving it away.

In another test, users drew the basic outline of a
house by clicking and moving the mouse around like a
pointer – all of this using the Microsoft Paint

But the applications of this technology aren’t for
just interacting with PCs.

“This starts to get really exciting, when you realise
that large public displays are just PCs with a large
screen,” Pears says.

For example, imagine the future where billboard
advertisements are computerised - something like a Web
page. You may want the details of a property
on a screen in an estate agent’s window, when the
estate agent is closed. Obviously, you cannot interact
directly with the screen, as it is behind a pane
of glass.

It would, however, be possible to interact via your
phone using this new invention, because you have a
cloned copy of part of the advertising screen on
your phone screen.

“By simply tapping a particular property icon, viewed
on your touch-sensitive phone screen, such a tap is
echoed through Bluetooth to the appropriate point
on the estate agent’s screen, and so any action on
that property data can be triggered,” Pears says.

“You could open the full advertising screen out to
show more images of the property or sending the
property details to your phone via Bluetooth or
details of the property to your email account,” he

The number of ways this technology could be used are
only as limited as your imagination, he concludes.

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