BT has demonstrated a new type of motion-sensing adaptor that allows laptop users to interact with applications without the need for a mouse or keyboard.
Comparing it to the technology used on Nintendo’s game-playing Wii console, BT Balance uses movement sensors to control a PC simply by tilting or tipping in one direction or another.
This level of control would allow users to open applications, navigate around the operating system in simple ways, or choose pages or images using motion to select the desired action from software that installs with the adaptor.
Developed at BT’s Broadband Applications Research Centre on its research site at Adastral Park near Ipswich, useful applications are reckoned to include specialist ones such as compensating for disability. However, the company says that the system would be useful for any user of a portable computer who required rapid interaction.
“Standard ways of controlling PC applications can be too complicated, so we decided to use the analogy of a book to work with. What we ended up with gives you the same look and feel of picking up a book and reading it but in a 3-D digital format,” said BT’s Adam Oliver.
BT has been tight-lipped on how soon the technology might be turned into a commercial product, or on precisely how it works beyond describing it as based around an "accelerometer chip" that is able to mimic the balance properties of the human middle ear.
The best common example of such a technology remains the Nintendo Wii, though this is a system dedicated to interpreting movement in the context of game playing. The effect on the performance of simple movements on an average laptop would likely still be modest.
BT Balance is currently being field-tested, the company said.