Soon squelching sound to check battery, messages on your cellphone
London, November 28: Glasgow University researchers have developed a software that will allow cellphone users to know when their handset’s battery is low, or how many new messages it has received, just by giving it a quick shake.
The system, named ‘Shoogle’ after a Scots-English word that means to shake, uses a phone's speaker and vibrator to make a device feel and sound like it contains liquid, when it is running out of power.
John Williamson, who developed the software with colleagues Rod Murray-Smith and Sean Hughes, says that the same technique can also be used to check whether new messages have been received.
Both tricks, according to the researchers, make it quicker to check the state of a device, without having a user to actually look at it.
"It allows you to feel and hear the state of your phone, instead of having to look," New Scientist quoted Williamson as saying.
Shoogle represents the number of messages in a phone’s inbox by modelling the movement of the equivalent number of balls, as if anchored by a spring inside a box.
Williamson says that different sounds, ranging from metallic clinks to wooden thuds (all in .wav format), can be set to correspond to different people.
When the phone’s battery is low, the volume of liquid sloshing also diminishes.
The software uses accelerometers to sense when the phone’s movements when it is shaken.
So far, the researchers have tested the software on a PDA with accelerometers attached, and on Nokia phones with the devices built in.
"Nokia has released a programming kit to help people develop software to use the accelerometers in their phones, making applications easier to develop," Williamson says.
The researchers are planning large-scale tests with the software, though informal user testing suggests people get on well with the idea.
"We may also make a release of the software publicly," Williamson said.
The research team also wants to make the system more sophisticated.
"We can discriminate between shaking in different directions, so left-to-right could check for just high-priority messages and another direction for other messages," said Williamson.
Shoogle was presented at the Computer/Human Interaction 2007 conference, held in California. (ANI)