Aug 1, 2016 | By Alec

The appearance of virtual and augmented reality has shown that we might not even be close to realizing the full potential of smartphone interaction. The possibilities that these highly portable mini-computers bring are only slowly becoming more and more visible, and Pokémon Go has shown that app interaction can be anything you’d like. But while these new dimensions of smartphone interaction are only just unfolding, a team of Japanese researchers is already looking further. In a new exploratory study, they have developed 3D printed smartphone cases with wheels that open up a new kinetic dimension as well.

This remarkable smartphone case was developed as part of a study entitled ‘Phones on Wheels: Exploring Interaction for Smartphones with Kinetic Capabilities’, which involved University of Tokyo researchers Takefumi Hiraki, Koya Narumi, Koji Yatani and Yoshihiro Kawahara. While the results of their kinetic explorations won’t be fully unveiled until October, at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) 2016 in Tokyo, they have already shared a remarkable preview clip.

As you can see above, it essentially consists of a wheeled smartphone case that provides a variety of new ways for users to interact with their phones. Your phone can ride to you to bring you important notifications, while a particularly fun alarm function forces you to get up to hit the snooze button. But most importantly, the wheels themselves are ‘smart’ and can be used to gather detailed information – such as the exact size of a certain surface. Now that would certainly be a useful app when buying a new desk.

What’s more, the kinetic dimension is easy to unlock. The wheels and the case have simply been 3D printed, and are powered by a circuit board equipped with micro-controllers, a USB-serial converter, motors, motor drivers, and rotary encoders. The motor actuation enables both linear and rotational movements, allowing the phone to push objects towards you or nudge you to attract your attention (useful when the sound has been turned off).

Of course this early prototype has its drawbacks as well. I’d hate to see my phone fall on the floor every morning when the alarm goes off. Hopefully, in the near future it will also learn to avoid table edges and obstacles. The surface area it is placed on will also obviously greatly affect the wheels’ performance. The snooze function won’t go far on a mattress. But especially the 3D printed wheels’ ability to gather accurate data suggests that the kinetic dimension holds a lot of potential. The smartphone is clearly not even close to its peak.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Spaceman wrote at 8/1/2016 6:30:25 PM:

Just what FAT people need. People need to get up and walk. Its proven!!.

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