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Cellphones Input Devices

Sloshing Cellphones Reveal Their Contents 160

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the because-you-can dept.
holy_calamity writes "UK researchers have developed software that represents a handset's battery life by using a phone's speaker and vibrator to make a device feel and sound like it contains liquid. You give it a shake to find out how much is left. The same technique can be used to represent new messages by simulating balls rattling around inside a box. It runs on recent Nokias with accelerometers; video from the researchers explains it well." What a bizarrely fun idea.
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Sloshing Cellphones Reveal Their Contents

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  • that's just stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yagu (721525) *

    Even the best battery "life" indicators I've ever seen mostly suck. If this one uses the dropoff in voltage as a detection device like every other one has for the last brazillion years, it'll basically be completely full for the life of the charge, and about 10 minutes before it tanks, if you're lucky, you'll get the joy of the sensation of a sloshing, albeit mostly empty sloshing, in your digital device.

    Now, as for the detecting how many messages there are by simulating the sound of balls rattling around

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CheShACat (999169)
      All true, but you can't deny that this is a pretty cool tactile feedback mechanism! More of these great ideas please!
    • by Steve Newall (24926) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:48AM (#21504359)
      As a manufacturer of portable data terminals, we always seem to spend an excessive amount of time in attempting to get a better indication of the amount of power left in a battery. Each battery chemistry has it's own set of rules and the rules tend to change as the battery ages.

      One of the better methods is to use a coulumb counter that attempts to measure the power put into a battery against the power removed from the battery. See http://www.linear.com/pc/productDetail.jsp?navId=H0,C1,C1003,C1037,C1134,P2354 [linear.com] for a typical device. Even using these, we only seem to be able to approach something that doesn't suck.

      One of our devices has a tilt sensor, so I may try to impliment the sloshing sound as well as our normal battery icon on the display.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by yagu (721525) *
        Hmmmm, btw, I apologize for the tone... prolly teeing off after some bad karma with some others (recruiters, actually, sigh)... and am kicking the dog. Sorry... (but, this is, after all, slashdot).

        That said, I appreciate you concede the difficulty of battery life measurement. I'd long since given up on paying too much attention to gauges, and instead pay more attention to keeping backup batteries for devices which have removeable ones (it actually is a large factor in my decision making process whether o

      • by grumbel (592662)
        ### we always seem to spend an excessive amount of time in attempting to get a better indication of the amount of power left in a battery

        How about throwing all the physics and chemistry out of the window and simply using good old statistics? In a lot of chases the device should now when the battery was charged, for how long it was charged and for how long it ran on that charge, just use that data to extrapolate how long it will last the next time you charge it.
        • I'm not sure who is chasing these devices, or how a device could 'now' anything, but grammar nazi-isms aside, what the GP described is pretty much what you're talking about. They measure electricity in and electricity out, and make a guess as to the energy left based on that. The only difference to your approach is you ignore the rate at which the device is consuming energy, which would make it significantly less accurate.
          • by Calinous (985536)
            Not to mention that battery performance depends on temperature - a charge will support the device more in a warm climate than out in the cold
            • Also if the sloshing noise indicates the amount of battery left, doesn't that sloshing noise use up some of the battery, so... I feel some Heisenburg coming on...
        • right, that would work very well for batteries that are charged while in storage and then discharged completely at an almost constant rate then put back into charging/storage.

          batteries in your typical portable hardware are not used like that. Users will rarely if ever discharge them completely because they want/need the device to be working at all times. Discharge rates and sometimes charge rates too vary depending on how the device is being used and so on.

          colomb counting is a slightly better idea but you s
      • The Psion Series 3 I owned a decade and a half ago had a great battery meter. It gave me a running total of the number of milliamp-hours I had used from the current set of batteries. Since the alkali cells I was using at the time gave me approximately 1.5 amp-hours, I knew a day or two before I needed to replace the batteries.
      • by cp.tar (871488)

        Neo1973 is supposed to get a coulomb counter as well as accelerometres.

        So I guess I'll be able to slosh the phone, not only swing it around MacSabre style... If that thing is half as great as it sounds, it'll be my favourite toy.

        And I might even phone someone from time to time.

    • by SnoopJeDi (859765) <snoopjedi@ g m a i l . c om> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:51AM (#21504411)

      Even the best battery "life" indicators I've ever seen mostly suck. If this one uses the dropoff in voltage as a detection device like every other one has for the last brazillion years, it'll basically be completely full for the life of the charge, and about 10 minutes before it tanks, if you're lucky, you'll get the joy of the sensation of a sloshing, albeit mostly empty sloshing, in your digital device.


      Don't hate the player, hate the game.

      This implementation in-and-of-itself does not really signify any important breakthrough to me. Just a bunch of geeks who took a feature and put a software aspect to it for a unique function. However, this is the second cell-phone shakey [slashdot.org] article I've seen on Slashdot recently. So, what really matters to me is the meta-content here: adding an accelerometer to a cellphone opens up a lot of functionality on the mobile platform.
    • I'm not familiar with Brazilian years... Do they measure them differently in the southern hemisphere?
      • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:03AM (#21504543) Journal

        It's in reference to a joke I'd heard a while back...

        In his early morning Iraq war briefing Bush's advisor said 2 Brazilian soldiers had died the day before. After a pause, Bush leaned over to Cheney and asked him, "How many zeros are in a brazillion?"

        No political affiliation or skewering intended... just a funny joke.

      • by fmobus (831767)
        why, yes, they start just after carnival and ends when the 13th salary is paid (usually by December, 20th)
    • by Thangodin (177516)
      And of course, the problem with this one is that all that sound and vibration drains the battery.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by halfabee (685633)

      Not stupid, just different.

      It's all about human interface. You may think it's dumb, but it may be just the thing that helps John Q. Public integrate a device into his lifestyle.

      Remember that:
      1. Technology should serve people.
      2. People are corporeal, not virtual.
      3. "Average" is dumber than you think.
      • by samkass (174571)
        One of our designers has a huge sign above his monitor that reads "The User Is *NOT* Like Me!" in big print. I think all engineering workstations should have this engraved alongside the screen.
      • by Nullav (1053766)
        And what's a sloshing sound going to tell the 'average' user that a battery-shaped bar or a percentage can't? Neither method gives the user a good idea how much time is left, the motor and speaker would do a lot to drain the battery, and it's more practical to look at the screen than to shake the phone. Not to mention that the 'toy' value of it is just too tempting; people would start shaking it around to kill time (and the battery).
  • It's not as if the cell phone's contents are in any way being divulged... but rather a qualitative indication of battery life.

  • Toy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by peipas (809350) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:37AM (#21504229)
    It sounds fun, but I don't understand how shaking a phone is functionally superior to simply looking at the screen to gauge battery life or messages. Not to mention shaking your expensive mobile device around may not be the smartest idea. Flying wiimotes, anyone?
    • by CheShACat (999169)
      You could quite easily say "I don't get how putting 4 workspaces on a cube is functionally superior to just having a little display in my toolbar" yet compiz/beryl are incredibly popular, for some reason...
      • by grumbel (592662)
        Its popular because it looks cool, not because its makes you more productive. It does have some advantages such as smoother edge-flipping, but the 3D cube really adds nothing.
    • Re:Toy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Scutter (18425) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:45AM (#21504333) Journal
      It sounds fun, but I don't understand how shaking a phone is functionally superior to simply looking at the screen to gauge battery life or messages.

      You're new here, aren't you?

      Show me anything in the world that a geek won't want to tinker with and hack in odd ways. It's this kind of thing that will eventually lead to Star Trek tech. It takes a hundred or a thousand "useless little hacks" to filter out the one gem that will be the killer hack. And sometimes, you can take a piece of one useless hack and a piece of another useless hack and put them together to make something awesome.

      Yes, this may not be the most useful modification in the world, but think of what it could lead to...
    • Re:Toy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by enjo13 (444114) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:53AM (#21504433) Homepage
      It's incredibly useful really.

      The battery indicator on your screen is passive. It just sits there (largely unnoticed) until your critically low on battery and then it beeps at you incessantly. By adding a physical element to the indicator you provide an ongoing battery status (in a very easy to understand metaphor no less) that is much more difficult to ignore.

      It is a very similar concept to the gestures used to control the iPhone. The trend in computing right now is to create interfaces that much more closely mimic physical experience. This has proven to greatly increase our ability to interact in meaningful ways with our machines. This is just another example of that.

      Really it wins on two points: 1) It's a useful piece of tech. and 2) it's an insanely cool hack.
      • Re:Toy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrNemesis (587188) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:14AM (#21504669) Homepage Journal
        I have to wonder though, why bother with a physical interface at all?

        The battery indicator on your screen is passive. It just sits there (largely unnoticed) until your critically low on battery and then it beeps at you incessantly. By adding a physical element to the indicator you provide an ongoing battery status (in a very easy to understand metaphor no less) that is much more difficult to ignore.

        Very good point, but I'm not convinced I'd like to shake my phone to get an indication of power (not that the standard power meter is going anywhere I suppose) but I'd like a passive aural indicator - how about the phone altering the pitch of all of those poloyphonic ringtones as the charge diminishes? Normal ringtone for 100-30% charge, and then increase the pitch delta as charge drops from that. As soon as you get a call or a text, you can immediately hear something's "wrong" with your phone (consider the age-old comedy stalwharts of the broken alarm bell or the out of tune piano), and it'll have the useful side effect of actually improving a large percentage of ghastly ringtones ;)
        • Arrgghhh!! My ears! :P
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AeroIllini (726211)
          This is just a version 1.0 hack, but I could see lots of different uses for this.

          When you pick up an opened can of soda, do you have to shake it vigorously to figure out how full it is? No... you generally know how heavy a full can is, and how heavy an empty can is. When you pick up the can, the amount of inertia the can has tells you how heavy it is, just in one motion. Our brains rely on this kind of feedback when we handle physical objects. Ever picked up an empty can you thought was full? You end up exa
          • Now imagine that the combination of an accelerometer and some clever programming of an off-center vibrate weight could simulate different weights in an object that doesn't actually change weight.

            Just like you can fly by pulling on your shoelaces, nothing you do can change the weight, either real or "perceived", of an object sitting in your hand.

      • that is much more difficult to ignore.

        Frankly, that's the problem I would have with this: I want to ignore my battery life most of the time. The only time I want to think about battery life is when it's just about to run out, and even then, I don't want some sort of a constant noise bugging me all the time.

        I hate when cellphones/laptops beep incessantly when they're low on power. What if I know it's low on power and I just want to keep using it until it runs out? Do I need it to be beeping at me every

        • by srmalloy (263556)
          The article is, unfortunately, vague on how the feature is activated; powering the speaker is a drain on the battery, so having it rattle or slosh every time it moves as it sits in your pocket or your purse or on your belt is not desirable (not to mention the additional aggravation that would be caused by the constant rattling or sloshing of cell phones around you), so there would logically be a need to, say, press a button on the cellphone before you shook it. Having an audio response in this manner does,
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        The battery indicator on your screen is passive. It just sits there (largely unnoticed) until your critically low on battery and then it beeps at you incessantly. By adding a physical element to the indicator you provide an ongoing battery status (in a very easy to understand metaphor no less) that is much more difficult to ignore.

        Well, if you don't shake it, this is a passive technique as well. It's not like you'd already be shaking your phone under normal circumstances and this would clue you in to a low

        • by cp.tar (871488)

          And, amusingly enough, since it takes battery life to make this work (power the speakers and read the accelerometers), people would be constantly shaking their phone to figure out the remaining battery life, and depleting the battery. Using more energy to know if you have killed the batteries yet seems somehow backwards to me.

          Well, all we need now is a mechanism like the one in shake-rechargeable flashlights...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Loke the Dog (1054294)
      But the problem is that we get more and more screens to look at all the time. Our eyes get all the input, but that means the rest of our senses are just sitting around, basically, which is a waste.

      Its the same with aircraft controls, that have been debated for many years. There are many advantages to making them all electronic, but the problem is that electronics tend to only give information to the user through lights and sounds. Mechanical operation on the other hand gives feel to the controls, which give
      • by fbjon (692006)

        or mouses that basically allows webpages to have "surfaces" that feel different when you hover over them... The possibilities are endless.
        Yes, blinking flash ads that literally grab you.
      • But the problem is that we get more and more screens to look at all the time. Our eyes get all the input, but that means the rest of our senses are just sitting around, basically, which is a waste.

        Exactly. Use the other senses for a change. Where are all the smell and taste interfaces? When I'm on the NYC subway, I want to taste how close I am to the next stop. Actually, though, now that I think of it, the subway does seem to give a lot of information by smell.

      • by Dahamma (304068)
        Our eyes get all the input, but that means the rest of our senses are just sitting around, basically, which is a waste.

        Its the same with aircraft controls, that have been debated for many years.


        I get the point, but that probably wasn't the best example for this article...

        "Hey Bob, how much fuel do we have left, could you check the gauge?"
        "Nah, that's too much trouble, just shake the plane back and forth a bit. Ok, hold on, sshh, I'm trying to listen - one more time. Great. Yep, sounds like the tanks are
    • by EgoWumpus (638704) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:38AM (#21504981)

      I have to imagine that any blind user of a cell phone would think this is awesome. No longer do you have to wade through some exchange with a computer to figure out if you have messages; you just shake your cell phone. And figuring out your charge without any need for visual interaction must be useful, too.

      Additionally, though, I don't think there is all that much problem with shaking solid-state electronics. The 'Wiimote syndrome' isn't at issue, because you're not trying to control cartoon characters on the screen - and shaking a rattle, say, is a far more sedate activity than swinging a hammer. Unless you're way, way hyper-aggressive.

      • by nuzak (959558)
        > No longer do you have to wade through some exchange with a computer to figure out if you have messages

        Huh, I just hold down "1" for about 3 seconds and hear "you have no new messages". It's a digital control, no need to wiggle it til it responds. Blind users tend to like buttons as long as they've got tactile feedback.
        • by EgoWumpus (638704)
          But compare that to the 'instant' response you get by looking at the readout. I think that wiggling it would be faster, and does not require you to take it out of your pocket.
      • by Eivind (15695)
        It's annoying though. I much prefer the alternative being presented here: how about a phone that detects when charge starts to get low (say 25% left) and that responds by shifting the pitch of ringtones and beeps downwards and slowing them down ?

        Sorta how a old-fashioned tape-player that is almost out of juice sounds.
        • I don't think the point is to find "The One True Solution". There is no such thing. There are many, many ways to do things, and if you can find some use for a thing chances are you can build on it. Personally - though I may be a bit OCD about such things - I find the 'slowing' distortion of noises to be grating, like nails on a chalkboard. And, contrariwise, I love tactile feedback. But I could see how others would want it other ways.
    • These guys came and gave a seminar at my university a while back. Most of their ideas left me with that feeling. They were cool demoes, but were more about the shiny than about useful feedback. Most of their ideas seemed to give you less information and require more user interaction than existing systems.

      The battery charging problem was solved a long time ago by the iPod. Don't give good battery level feedback, give the user a reason to plug the device in other than just charging. My 3G iPod came with

    • by cp.tar (871488)

      It sounds fun, but I don't understand how shaking a phone is functionally superior to simply looking at the screen to gauge battery life or messages. Not to mention shaking your expensive mobile device around may not be the smartest idea. Flying wiimotes, anyone?

      Apart from the things some people already mentioned, this seems to be a very nice feature for, say, blind users.

    • by stickyc (38756)
      It sounds fun, but I don't understand how shaking a phone is functionally superior to simply looking at the screen to gauge battery life or messages.

      Don't assume that all mobile phone users have the gift of sight.

  • Needs more cowbell...!

    • by King_TJ (85913)
      Wow... I must read Slashdot too much. For a second there, I thought you typed "Need more Cowboyneal!" I don't think *any* of us really want THAT on our cellphones!
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:43AM (#21504307)
    Is like a cow without an altimeter.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      How else are you gonna know when the cow's about to hit the ground, huh?
    • Actually, some of the 3rd. party "unauthorized" apps for hacked iPhones make really clever use of the accelerometer.

      The most recent one was an electronic level. It draws the little bubble level on the phone's display, and the bubble moves just like a real level, indicating the phone sitting level when the bubble is between the 2 lines. It works pretty well, and given the shape of the iPhone (not likely to be attached to some sort of belt clip or holster that prevents it from lying flat on a surface), it's
    • I know it's been forever since you posted this, but just wanted to tell you that it still has me in stitches. Good show, sir.
  • by operagost (62405) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:45AM (#21504325) Homepage Journal

    Nokia's
    An apostrophe does not mean, "Look out! Here comes an S!"
    • by wfWebber (715881) <webber&wfgaming,com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:40AM (#21505041)
      Nope. An apostrophe usually means, "Look out! Here come the grammar nazis"
    • by xant (99438)
      BtaF [angryflower.com] sounds off hilariously on this issue.
  • by CheeseburgerBrown (553703) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:48AM (#21504353) Homepage Journal
    I think this is a good idea -- harnessing already honed human perceptions and using them to relieve some of the bandwidth hogging our visual senses are subjected to. It could be quite intuitive, and save valuable screen real estate.

    On the other hand, I guess it means we can't take our mobile phones on airplanes anymore, can we?

    Homeland Security Agent: "How much liquid is in that phone?"

    You: "None. It's virtual liquid."

    Homeland Security Agent: "It sounds like at least a few ounces."

    You: "Virtual liquids have neither volume nor weight."

    Homeland Security Agent: "Do I look stupid to you?"

    You: "Can I take the fifth on that?"

    Homeland Security Agent: "That's Mistake Number Two, bub. Quoting from documents concerning the governance or liberties of American citizens is suspicious activity Level Blue. Ever heard of Ron Paul?"

    You: "Uh, sure."

    Homeland Security Agent: "You're under arrest."

  • I wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DeeQ (1194763) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @10:49AM (#21504365)
    How much faster the battery runs out with this feature. Its always annoyed me that my phone beeps every min when the battery becomes low. I thought the idea was when the phone starts to run out of power to conserve it to make it last long enough till you could charge it next. Considering how much faster my phone dies with the sound on and beep compaired to when I have the sound off and low bat, i wonder how much juice it takes to shake the thing to check the bat level.
  • I understand frustration with cellphones, but why is it that every new method of doing something with them seems like it's going to involve shaking them? [slashdot.org]
    • No kidding, I worked for a phone manufacturer and in the late 90's a corporation (cheap auto repair) ordered tens of thousands of GSM phones for their staff, the thing is they asked the ring "melody" to be forced to their ad jingle. Within a month, half of them had been returned. Most of them were a bag of totally smashed plastic and parts (think "will it blend?") (sometimes even partially incinerated) with "oops, it felt off my pocket" or other mundane excuse as the problem description. So don't tell me of
  • "The same technique can be used to represent new messages by simulating balls rattling around inside a box."

    I can't wait for this. I'll shake my cell phone, and someone will ask me WTF I'm doing. I'll proudly be able to proclaim, "My cell phone has balls!"
  • Does it make phone calls?
  • A solution to....? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ThreeGigs (239452)
    I love cool little gimmicky inventions like this.
    Unfortunately, it seems to be a solution that was applied to a problem that didn't need solving.

    Now, perhaps if they linked the sloshing behavior to the amount of milk left in the carton as reported via my networked refrigerator, they'd have me interested.
  • Juice (Score:3, Funny)

    by Radon360 (951529) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:09AM (#21504617)
    I guess this puts a new spin on the colloquialism of how much "juice" is left in a battery.
  • Battery life (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zokier (1049754)
    This would kill battery life of a device, cellphones are already at only few days of usage. Lets just add a gimmicky effect that needs more battery. 'Oh how much do I have battery left? *shake* None, anymore anyways...'
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:12AM (#21504651) Homepage Journal
    Thanks to the mini-USB connector on my phone, battery life is completely not important to me. In the car, I charge my phone. At work or at a client's, I plug it into a laptop or PC. If I am desperate, I have a little USB hand crank that can power my phone for 20 minutes with about 3 minutes of cranking.

    When cell phones had proprietary connectors that changed with each new model, battery life was maybe #3 on my list of important features. Now I don't even think of it. I can not recall a day in the past year when I had less than 60% battery life (even with WiFi and Bluetooth enabled on my HTC Trinity).

    Is it really a big deal for a lot of people? Where are you that you can't plug in, even if just for 10-15 minutes to top off your battery?
    • Fortunately, the new Li-Ion batteries handle that quite OK, with older tech, you would have ruined your battery within a year by partially reloading it that often.
    • by Flwyd (607088)
      Places I have USB connections are mostly places I have land line access.

      Which, I suppose, is why I don't have a mobile phone.
  • by Traa (158207)
    Sorry, didn't RTFA, but did they patent this cute idea? It sounds like fun, something that I might want on my cellphone even. Willing to pay for it, but as a developer for a large cellphone component maker I could probably create this application myself. If the idea is patented, and from what I have heard from patent lawyers this sounds rather patentable, it would prevent a quick and widespread adoption. The biggest problem is that though the idea is innovative, it is hardly remarkable. It falls into the ca
  • How much battery power is consumed in producing the sloshing noise to tell me how much battery power is left? And if you have unread messages while checking the battery power will you get balls sloshing around in the liquid? And would the smaller messages float?
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:24AM (#21504801) Homepage
    While this is very cool, it does bring up a pet peeve of mine: why can't devices show accurate battery life?

    Currently, all battery charge indicators are wildly nonlinear and grossly inaccurate.

    To be more specific. Conceptually, imagine a device that holds three small batteries instead of one large one, and drains them in succession one after the other. The battery life measurement on each battery would be somewhat imprecise, but when you'd exhausted the first battery you'd know that you really had 2/3 of the charge left; when you'd exhausted the second, you'd know that you really had 1/3 left.

    Alternatively, how about a device that holds two smaller batteries and double-buffers them; that is, draws from one battery until it's exhausted, then draws from the second while allowing you to replace the first?

    • Conceptually, imagine a device that holds three small batteries instead of one large one, and drains them in succession one after the other. The battery life measurement on each battery would be somewhat imprecise, but when you'd exhausted the first battery you'd know that you really had 2/3 of the charge left; when you'd exhausted the second, you'd know that you really had 1/3 left.
      Indeed but then you have to allow for that fact that higher discharge rates tend to mean lower efficiancies and also allow for
    • While this is very cool, it does bring up a pet peeve of mine: why can't devices show accurate battery life?

      The individual who can figure out how to do this with cheap consumer grade components under the wide variety of load condtions even a single cell phone encounters... Is in for a life of fame and fortune. Predicting battery life, even under ideal conditions, is a crapshoot at best.

      To be more specific. Conceptually, imagine a device that holds three small batteries instead of one lar

      • by Eivind (15695)

        Somebody is reading too much into the "batteries are like buckets of electricity" analogy we all got back in school. Real batteries don't work quite like that.

        Yes they do. If you have three identical, batteries, all fully charged, then each of them will hold aproximately the same amount of energy. If you drain one of the 3 without touching the other 2 you have now drained 1/3rd of your available energy.

  • by Hanners1979 (959741) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:25AM (#21504803) Homepage
    I can just see her filling her mobile phone full of water when 'the liquid has run out'.
  • Ha! I love it! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:27AM (#21504833)
    Most of our computer humor comes from people trying to apply inappropriate models to understanding the way computers work, thinking they're like cars or household appliances. I've had people ask me if computers need tune-ups, belts changed, etc. And us techs can be dicks about it, too. "Yeah, you dropped that CD and now all the bits shifted to one side. It's going to be unbalanced, like a washing machine. So what you need to do is shake the CD until all the bits get evenly distributed."

    Shaking the battery to hear how "full" it is, it's an intuitive approach for someone who knows nothing about technology and makes the geeks laugh, but here they go and make it work. Very, very funny. But this is the sort of thinking that helps make the toys easier to use. More power to 'em.
  • by andrewbaldwin (442273) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:40AM (#21505039)
    Add in small magnets + coils (or reverse run the accelerometer if it's suitable) and charge the phone from the shaking?

    It's not as if the Slashdot crowd have atrophied wrist muscles after all :-) [runs for cover]
  • Now why couldn't they get the shaking to CHARGE the battery? After all they can do that with flashlights.
  • Neat for the blind (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lantastik (877247) on Wednesday November 28, 2007 @11:54AM (#21505279)
    My sister-in-law is legally blind and she is always asking how much battery life is left on her phone and how many messages she has. From an accessibility perspective, I think it's a pretty neat idea. Otherwise, it's a useless feature.
    • by blhack (921171)
      What use does your blind sister have for text messages?

      Or are you talking about voicemail? I guess I assumed that this hack was for txt only (thats what they show in the video)....what would be cool is if somebody could actually figure out a reliable way of telling me how many voicemails I have! My phone always says like 10-15 even though i usually have about 8.
  • Just what we need, more people in movie theaters jerking their phones around with the sound of balls rolling around.

    LoB
    • by PPH (736903)
      I hate to be the one to tell you this, but that's not a phone that Pee-Wee is shaking.
  • This *is* a shameless plug, which is more or less on-topic here. You have been warned :-).

    http://www.nongnu.org/bubblemon/ [nongnu.org]

    The Bubbling Load Monitor (or "Bubblemon" for short) is a system CPU and memory load monitor. It displays something that looks like a vial containing water. The water level indicates how much memory is in use. The color of the liquid indicates how much swap space is used (watery blue means none and angry red means all). The system CPU load is indicated by bubbles floating up through the
  • Yet another way to annoy your office mates and everyone at the movie theatre.

    Reminds me of the "internet is full" cartoon from Dilbert.
  • ... does it contain more than 3oz of liquid? (Virtually speaking...)
  • But if they could make it actually feel lighter as the battery drains, *that* would be some feedback.

    Maybe some sort of submarine-style ballast tanks, but with helium?

  • Just add 9 volt battery terminals to the outside of the phone that are connected directly to the battery. To check the charge simply apply your tongue to the terminals. Isn't that how everybody checks a 9 volt battery?

    No software update or accelerometer required.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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