MyOrigo Prototype Tackles Smart-Phone Faults

Finnish company's design includes a touch screen that gives tactile feedback and a virtual mouse created by tilting the phone.

You run into the most interesting things as an emerging-technology analyst. This week, it was a set of technologies from a company called MyOrigo Ltd. out of Finland. MyOrigo demonstrated the first smart phone Ive seen that could obsolete both the new Motorola MP x200 and PalmOne Incs new Treo 600.

Just out of prototype and entering initial manufacturing, what makes this phone different and better isnt just the software, its the hardware. Or, more accurately, it is the user interface to the hardware.

One of the major problems with the new class of smart phones is that you have to trade size for usability. The Motorola MPx200 was the first phone that demonstrated you could make a smart phone both useful and small. Also, at $149 after a subsidy from AT&T, it is one heck of a bargain. However, doing e-mail on it is a pain, and browsing the Web isnt much better.

The PalmOne Treo boasts a larger screen and a keyboard, but it is also a much larger and more expensive device. The Treo remains bigger than most seem to want in a phone. Much of this is because of the keyboard and display, both of which need more real estate than is provided by the MPx200 to be truly useful for communications and Web browsing. On the other hand, the Treo is simply too large for most, and the keys have a stiff feel that is uncomfortable for some.

/zimages/7/28571.gifClick here to see and read about smart phones and other devices that debuted at the CTIA Wireless trade show.

Neither phone has a good replacement for a mouse, though the touch screen on the Treo is close.

The MyOrigo phone prototype is smaller than the Treo and larger than the x200. Accelerometers are used heavily in the design, and this allows the screen to change orientation simply by turning the phone. It also allows the creation of a virtual mouse, which also works by tilting the phone. The cursor, or scene, moves by simply tilting the device much as you would if you were balancing a ball on the device. This is the first solution to the "mouse" problem that would allow you to one-hand the device that Ive seen.

Next Page: Touch screen with tactile feedback feels natural.