Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Friday, April 22, 2005

Drag and drop from a mobile...idea #50/100...

Half-way through the 100 ideas! I hope that they are proving useful in a variety of ways to the readership. I am not claiming originality, although I think some of them certainly are novel. The idea is to open up a landscape of possibilities, so that you - the reader - might find stimulation in your own thoughts about mobile.

I have a variety of ideas about PC-mobile connectivity and one of my hopes is that an innovative player (perhaps Apple) will soon set the "standard" for fluid media and data between desktop and device. I was hoping for something in the latest Mac OS X release, but I didn't see anything interesting in the Jobs demo.

I have often written about using mobiles as pointing devices (see idea #4) and I played around with such concepts a couple of years back, which led me to buy a gyration mouse to try things out.

Is it possible to select content on a mobile device (in my hand) and simply drag and drop it onto my desktop?

The transfer via Bluetooth is easy, but what about the actual dragging operation. Imagine placing your mobile over the appropriate window on the screen and just dropping the content into the window.

What I was playing around with this morning was waving my mobile over the screen and looking through its camera. Using the principles of an optical mouse, it seems possible to enable at least a crude position sensing mechanism, crude being all that is required in order to drop into a relatively large screen space (i.e. a window).

The challenge is with absolute positioning. In other words, how does the mobile/PC link know where the mobile is, not just its movement?

I think there are a variety of solutions to that problem. An obvious one is to start at a fixed location and move from there. I don't like that solution, because it's clunky.

Another possible solution is to differentiate the windows on the screen in a way that the camera-link can sense areas on the screen, or known location points or areas. For example, each window could have its own background pattern (or some other key) that is uniquely identifiable via pattern recognition. This would seem unattractive as it means a departure from the usual display. However, this pattern could just appear as an "overlay" (or "underlay") on the screen only visible during the drag and drop process, during which the user would be holding a key on the phone.

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