Saturday, June 30, 2007

iPhone - Interesting technology, bet u d'nt know

Many of the features in Apple's new iPhone will be under-appreciated, including the accelerometer, ambient light sensor, and infrared sensor, all of which are used to gather information from the environment and adjust the phone's functions.

The iPhone can automatically change the screen from portrait to landscape, adjust the screen's brightness based on light levels in the environment, and disable the touch screen when the phone is being used for a call.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology research scientist Nathan Eagle says that although these functions are useful and entertaining, they are rather unremarkable for the technology in the iPhone. "These are trivial uses for what has the potential to provide a whole slew of new features and functionality," Eagle says.

Independent research projects at MIT, Intel, and other companies indicate that phones built with hardware such as accelerometers, light sensors, a GPS, and a microphone could provide clues about people's activities and behaviors. Such a phone could monitor exercise habits, track an elderly relative's activities, and let friends and family know if it is an appropriate time to call or instant message the phone's owner.

At Intel Labs, researchers equipped first-year students at University of Washington with an accelerometer, barometer, a humidity sensor, a thermometer, a light sensor, a digital compass, and a microphone and were able to watch social networks form as subjects with the sensors interacted.

Eagle says it would not be difficult to write consumer software that would deduce a person's basic activities, which could be used to update the status listed on an instant messenger program or a blog, for example.

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