Cell Phones Morph into Imaging Devices

Opinion: Once considered voice tools, mobile phones are gaining sophisticated imaging technologies that will drastically change the way we use them.

See over there, at the Realeyes3D booth? Whos that geek shooting down attacking biplanes with his phone? Going "yakka-yakka-yakka-yakka!" and whooping with delight?

Yes. It was me.

What did I come away with after the 3GSM World Conference in Cannes, France? One powerful, almost overwhelming impression: The days when the world could talk about a phone being a voice tool are over. Its now an imaging device.

Up until now, people have been getting away with talking about the camera phone as if it were a joke, a toy, an amusement for kids who dont know about photography, or a way of pacifying distant grannies. But 2005 marks the arrival of sophisticated imaging technologies.

Some of them are simply unbelievable. Easy to understand, but what sort of mind came up with the idea of using the camera as a cursor control?

On a normal smart phone, you can watch PC users itching for the mouse. They want to hit the Start button and click things, but there isnt one.

Well, there is now: the camera. It works! You have software that latches onto an object in the background, and as you move the camera, the image moves across the field of vision. If it goes up, its cursor-up; if down, then its cursor-down. Like learning to use a mouse for the first time, its clumsy at first—but with some development, and an improvement in camera technology, its going to be great.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about Microsofts big news at 3GSM.

OK, you dont want a mouse? How about a games controller? My biplanes were real—but I could only see them through the phone window. Again, the software latches onto the background, and it draws the enemy aircraft in relation to prominent objects.

Move the camera, and the plane stays "in the same place"—in front of the aluminium pole, or coming past the guy with the red hair, or in the middle of the window.

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