Google is preparing to add a new type of hardware awareness to the Chrome browser. The browser will soon be able to use accelerometer data to keep track of which way is up, and rotate the interface. Thus Google gets one step closer to making the browser an operating system.
It's not just fitting content to device orientation that can be of use here. Web-based apps and games could also poll the accelerometer as a method of control. Mozilla started to work on this in 2009, and expects to roll it out in Firefox 3.6.
Google is spending heavily on their browser software, which will be the underlying framework of the upcoming Chrome OS. Are there any other uses of orientation awareness in browsers you'd like to see implemented?
Don't go writing off sub-10-inch netbooks just yet, lest you overlook Sony's VAIO P series. Tablets, 10-inch netbooks, and increasingly faster and more functional smartphones be damned, Sony apparently thinks there's still a market for near-pocket sized netbooks, and to prove it, they've gone and updated their VAIO P series.
Lightweight and portable, Sony says their P series netbooks measure about the size of a business envelope and about as thin as a cell phone, while weighing a mere 1.4 pounds. There's now an optical touchpad complementing the central trackball, and it's the first notebook line from Sony with a built-in accelerometer.
According to Sony, you can browse through pictures, PDF documents, or navigate back and forth through your web browsing history by giving the VAIO a gentle shake. And like other handheld devices with a built-in accelerometer, the VAIO P series will switch between portrait and landscape mode depending on the device's orientation.
Other features include up to a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, up to 64GB of hard drive space, 2GB of DDR2 memory, SD memory card slot, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and various other odds and ends (full feature-set here).
Available in Onyx Black, Garnet Red, Crystal White, Gold, and Pink, the new VAIO P series will start shipping in the US this June starting at $800.
Iwata may be publicly dismissive of current gaming platforms and technology, but lets face it, the DS is long in the tooth, and is in desperate need of an update. The present split-screen design, while innovative in its time, will need more than a face-lift if it’s going to be competitive.
Speculation has it that Nintendo is looking long and hard at the Tegra 250 for its DS and DSi replacement, with eye toward competing with the iPhone and Touch, rather than Sony’s PSP. In which case an accelerometer is a given.
There’s no timeframe for a product launch, but it wouldn’t be out of the question for more substantial news to come from March’s Game Developers Conference or E3 in June.
Though it’s not exactly curing cancer, or sustainable energy, some researchers think it’s important not to tick off every living soul in a movie cinema because you left your phone turned on. Enter “whack gestures.”
Researchers at Carnegie Melllon University in Pittsburg and Intel Labs in Seattle have created a “whack vocabulary” of gestures used to interact with accelerometer-equipped cell phones. The functionality is simple: whack your phone to shut it up. Chris Harrison, co-developer of the system at Carnegie Mellon, says, “I think for whack gestures to be commercially viable only two gestures might be desired: one to silence the phone, and a second to postpone an alert, ask the caller to try again in 5 minutes or snooze an alarm."
I think this is a great idea. It could lead to some hilarious outbursts of self-violence, all the while making the world a little less aggravating for everybody.
With the release of Windows 7, tablet PCs are drawing a ton of attention, and if you don't mind getting your hands dirty inside a Dell Mini 9 netbook, you can roll your own.
The hack comes courtesy of Rob928 from MyDellMini.com and involves stripping off the lid, trimming down the hinges, and other somewhat scary tasks when dealing with electronics. The end result is that Rob928 was able to fuse a Dell Vostro A90 with a Hoda Technology solderless touchscreen kit. He also tossed in an accelerometer for good measure giving the homebrewed tablet the ability to automatically rotate the screen.
It's not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart, but for anyone willing to follow in Rob928's footsteps, this is one of the coolest mods we've seen in awhile.
On Tuesday, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch reiterated the company’s promise to release a beta version of its Flash 10 player for mobiles by the end of this year. He was addressing analysts at an event specially organized for them. He went on to add that the mobile version of Flash will begin making full use of APIs by the beginning of next year. This will allow the mobile variant of Flash to fully tap such hardware features as multi-touch and accelerometer, which are found on an increasing number of smartphones.