Over in Tokyo, the Rekimoto Lab is putting us all to shame with its innovative projects integrating human emotions, gestures and even cat-activity with your mobile phone. From a clever new way to zoom on a touchscreen, to a mood-sensing handset, we'd be happy to see any of their innovations in future smartphones. We're even considering buying a cat just to take advantage of the Cat@Log project. Read on for more!
AffectPhone - A mood ring for the '10s
Not one for people who rely on controlling their emotions very carefully, never revealing a chink in the armour of your defense mechanisms, AffectPhone wants to reveal your true feelings to whoever you're calling by monitoring your Galvanic Skin Response (GSR). Each phone would incorporate a sensor on the back and sides of the handset, which measures the electrical resistance of skin and has been long associated with emotional state - it's what they use in lie detectors, for example.
Your mood is communicated to the person you're on the phone to by the heating up or cooling down of the back panel. It'd be pretty interesting to use one your mother if you're calling up to tell her you're pregnant or gay - a fun (or potentially distressing) way to discover her true feelings on the matter. But we're a little more reluctant to have it used on ourselves - sometimes those little white lies about how we really are fine are told for the greater good.
From the video it looks to us like this could also be used for a more immersive mobile gaming and film-watching experience too - so the panel heats and cools in accordance with what's happening on-screen.
GraspZoom - pressure-based zoom
We're not sure why, but we find pinch-to-zoom an intensely satisfying action, but it's not massively convenient if you only have one hand free for zooming with. GraspZoom is a single-handed solution; simply pressing the area of the screen you want to zoom in on, using just the hand you're holding the phone in. Zooming out would combine pressure and minute gesture controls, which doesn't sound too taxing either.
The development team simulated the effect using a Force Sensitive Resistor on the back of the handset to see how viable it would be as a feature built-in to a handset. Apple, for example, has filed patents in the past which detail pressure-sensitive touchscreens, so we wouldn't be surprised to see the technology required for GraspZoom becoming commonplace in the not-too-distant future. Pretty nifty, we'd say.
Cat@log - Human-pet interaction
Ok, ok. This isn't strictly a phone - but it involves a twittering cat so we're having it. Cat@log is a not-exactly-convenient kitty collar which comes loaded with a camera, microphone, microSD card, accelerometer, Bluetooth and GPS.
The GPS hooks up to Google Maps to create a territory map, showing you where your cat goes when he's out and about, while the camera gives you a ride-along view. The accelerometer can also interpret certain actions like scratching, going up and down stairs, eating and jumping, all of which can be used to update a Twitter-feed - or even a full-on blog - of what your cat is up to all day long. Brilliant if you're particularly anxious about puss or away on holiday and want to check the cat-sitter is earning their keep.
There have been other cat-twitter-video-mash-up solutions, but this is the neatest we've seen yet. The adorable video (we recommend skipping the first minute or so) explains the features in more depth and even if you don't care about the technology, it features a bunch of cute cats - what more do you really want from an internet video?