Nokia showed off some new concept tech at its Nokia World show this week, with three standing out in particular. They’re called Click to find, Point & Find, and Interaction via Gaze (that last one’s more a description than a product title, to be honest). I had a look at all three, starting with Interaction via Gaze (pictured above)
The basic concept is to use the movement of your eyes to control a mobile device. The current prototype is a set of glasses attached to a baseball cap, with a display built in, as well as a mini camera to track your eye movements.
You start by calibrating it – white dots appear at different points in the screen, and you have to look at them (it’s a lot like calibrating a games joystick, if you can remember the days when that was necessary).
The demo being shown at Nokia World was photography-based, with a 360 degree panorama photo that you move around using just your eyes. Look towards the edge of the screen (and this is the screen within the glasses, don’t forget), and it pans right, left, up or down. If your gaze focuses on an object, it zooms in.
According to the Nokia chap demonstrating it, the technology could be used to click icons in an interface, type on a virtual keyboard, or even play 3D mobile games – although he did admit that it would be better to have something tracking your head movements, if you were peering round in a first-person shooter.
It’s early days, and it’s still a bit clunky physically, since you have to connect the glasses to the phone with a thick cable. It’s for power purposes, but also because streaming the interactive photographs isn’t great over wireless yet.
When will it be a commercial product? “It’s very hard to say, we have to make a better prototype…”
Click to Find (pictured above) was the next futuretech on show, which again is an early-stage concept. It addresses a superbly simple need – finding items like keys when you’ve lost them – using a radar-like application on your phone.
It revolves around tags, using a proprietary short-range wireless technology developed within Nokia, which is “similar” to the Wibree technology that’s currently being merged with the Bluetooth Low Power standard.
So, you attach the tag to your keys, and then when you need to find them, you fire up the dedicated application on your phone, which uses a direction-finding antenna to locate them, and shows a big arrow pointing in the right direction. You can track “hundreds” of objects at once, enabling ubergeeks to tag everything they own if they want.
It can track through windows and wood, but not concrete walls. and works up to a distance of 30 metres – although this could be increased with a more powerful battery in the tag.
Nokia suggests other possible uses too. You could put the tags inside golf balls and never lose another one (don’t they ban mobile phones from being used on golf courses nowadays though?). Tags could even be attached to children or pets.
How soon might it become a commercial product? “I don’t have any clue about that,” said the demonstrator. “It’s a recent prototype, but hopefully someday, if we can sell it to a product line.” If installed into Nokia phones, it’s possible that you’d get a certain number of tags when you buy the handset, and then pay extra if you want more.
The third futuretech I had a look at was Point & Find, which is basically Nokia’s take on those Japanese QR codes – the ability to point your cameraphone at something in the real world, and when you snap, be taken to a website offering a particular product, service or content.
For example, you might take a shot of a cinema poster and get reviews, showtimes and buy tickets. Or you might take a photo of a car and be sent to a dedicated site with information and test drive bookings.
The demonstrator didn’t say much more than that, but he did say Nokia is planning to launch Point & Find next year – I’m wondering if that’ll be part of the company’s Mobile Advertising division.
For the latest posts from the show, check our Nokia World 2007 category