Air Writing: Using Your Cell Phone Like a Stylus

Air Writing: Using Your Cell Phone Like a Stylus

Range Govindan
Jun 17, 2009

Tired of not being able to tweet or text while jogging or while you're otherwise busy? Have you decided that you wanted a more gesture-based form of input to your information world? Well, don't worry, because soon you will be able to use your cell phone as a stylus or pen. The phone will recognize the movements and translate them into text. How cool is that?

This new technology is called air writing. It's aim is to use a cell phone's built-in accelerometer to enable it as an input device by translating the gestures into text. All of those speed-texters that are out there should probably stick to the keys for now, because air writing will be longer. For now, each letter has to be written individually and a pause needs to be made in between. However, researchers expect to improve upon this with better algorithms and accelerometers.

By holding the phone like a pen, you can write short messages or draw simple diagrams in the air. The air-writing app takes advantage of accelerometers already inside cell phones such as Apple's iPhone. Accelerometers normally keep track of phone movements and orientation, such as having the display screen rotate from portrait to landscape mode.

Future versions of this technology will allow users to take photos and write a quick note on it using their cell phone as a pen. This technology has been developed at Duke University by an engineering student named Sandip Agrawal. Sounds pretty neat to us, but we'd have to wait until we actually see something that can beat 10-year old girls texting away in class. [via core77, photo by Anidi90]

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