Opinion Brief

Controlling your iPhone by... touching your palm?

A new technology just about takes the "phone" out of mobile phone use

The video: The future of cell phones may be in the palm of your hand — literally. Researchers at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany, have developed a way to answer a phone without even taking it out of your pocket. The new technology lets the palm of your hand act just like a smartphone screen. (Watch a video of the concept below). Instead of tapping a button on the phone to open apps and answer calls, users tap the same location on their palms. The whole process is facilitated by a depth-sensitive camera — which will eventually be small enough to be invisibly integrated into clothing — that detects hand motions and relays the commands to the phone via Wi-Fi. The goal of this "imaginary phone" is to "provide the next level of convenience" to smartphone users, says researcher Patrick Baudisch.

The reaction: This "imaginary phone" isn't all that helpful, says Kevin Lee at PCWorld, since users have to remember where their app icons are located on their phone's screen. Plus, the camera is still so big that it's "anything but inconspicuous," says Nic Halverson at Discovery News. Even if they do make it small enough to embed in clothing, "who wants to wear a camera on them all the time?" asks Raymond Wong at DVICE. It's an "interesting alternative to embedding computers into our skin, but it's still got a long way to go before people take it seriously." Check it out:

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