BT brings Wii-like remote control to PCs
Shake, rattle and roll
UK telco British Telecom has built an add-on for laptops, tablets and ultra-mobile PCs that allows users to control their computer simply by moving it around.
Called Balance, the unit plugs into a spare USB port. Inside, it contains a set of motion sensors similar to the detectors build into Nintendo's Wii Remote game controller. Special software converts feedback from the sensors into instructions for the host machine's Windows user interface.
Tilting the screen left or right, for example, could cause the cursor to move in the appropriate direction. Shaking it vigorously up and down could be set empty the Recycle Bin or restart the machine.
It'd certainly make an interesting add-on for driving games, we'd say.
However, BT has more practical uses in mind, in particular new ways to help the elderly and the disabled use computers, particular mobile devices which otherwise require the user to be able to work with a tiny keyboard.
It also has its eye on field-engineers who may need to control their computers with one hand.
It's nothing new, of course. Finnish technology firm MyOrigo gave The Register a demo of a phone that uses the same principles to make calls and surf the internet back in July 2003. MyOrigo's technology has yet to come to market, though it's keen to licence it to device manufacturers.
BT's unit is a little way off too: the company said the technology is still in development and being tested in the field.
Sense this motion sunshine.....
If you drop kick it across the room, does this trigger the deletion of Windows and the start of a Linux install?
Before anyone asks, you should be able to get MacOS by shaking it in a vigorous but non-threatening manner while allowing your wrists to go limp.
Hardly wii style
Sounds more like the accelerometers and tilt sensors in the MacBook/Powerbook. The Wii has a full 6 degree sense which provides feedback of pitch, roll, yaw and acceleration for each, as well as, and this is the crucial bit which makes it differ...
The wiimote also has a pair of fresneltastic IR sensors in the remote which pick up the direction the wiimote is pointing in at the screen (the sensor bar has the IR transmitters in it in case you're wondering what kind of hogwash I'm on about) giving you that ever so cool mouse style pointer which doesn't require moving a joystick back and forth until you manage to get the cursor to stop on the CORRECT button!
I can't see dear old aunt sally who has parkinsons being able to achieve any great deal of control, frail old men and women without parkinsons would also have trouble, lifting and maneuvering the device between their bifocals (poor visible angle/glare on the screen) and their weak wrists (how much does it weigh?).
If they were given to engineers, we all know which one handed activity they'd be using an internet tablet for ;)
And for all I'm not gonna jump on this band wagon. I've been picking up windows machines and shaking them for years. It would be nice if it came with a free 3 finger salute.