[CEATEC 2012] It is usually frowned upon to talk on the phone when using public transport, but the same can’t be said when it comes to using your phones for other purposes. Well, Docomo has come up with some new ways to help commuters use their mobile devices when they’ve got one hand holding onto the rail (or bags) and only one hand free. First up is a solution called Grip UI. During the demonstration, they outfitted an Android smartphone with a bunch of sensors on the side of the phone. These sensors can detect the pressure from your hand that’s holding the phone and can let you operate it differently. Instead of having to swipe your finger across the screen to unlock your phone, you can just grip the sides of the phone to turn on the display, and then a bit harder to fully unlock it.
In addition to letting you unlock your phone easily, the Grip UI will let you easily launch apps with customizable shortcuts i.e. you can grip the phone and swipe across the screen with your free thumb in four directions (up, down, left or right) to launch an app without having to exit to the homescreen or scrolling through your apps menu. A nice idea, though with my huge hands I rarely face problems using my phone with one hand so I can’t say I’d be using it. I guess consumers could always just settle for a smaller phone if they don’t want such problems.
Secondly, we have Docomo’s ibeam technology. While I don’t think it’s a very wise move to add the ‘i’ in front of its name, at the very least it relates to what it’s about. ibeam basically describes the hardware and software combination that brings eye-controlled operation to tablets. Yes, you got that right – eye-control. Not unlike the Galaxy S3 that gives you some control over your phone with your eyes, ibeam takes it a step further. It uses line-of-sight detection technology via near infrared illumination and special cameras that track the eyes of the tablet user. Users can navigate through the app just by looking at where they want to “click” and keeping their eyes on the spot for a few seconds to confirm it.
Applications demonstrated were a game, a photo gallery, web browser and an ebook reader – which according to some people who tested it, was pretty intuitive. Another solution that’s great for one-handed tablet use i.e. in Japan’s busy trains and buses. Will it catch on? It’s too early to tell right now, but it seems promising. What do you think? Video demonstration below: