Nokia promises gestures control for future handsets

Further to previous reports that Finnish handset manufacturer Nokia has got gesture recognition in the works, Pocket-lint learnt today that the company has firm plans to include it in future handsets.

Dubbing the system "natural interactions", Nokia outlined how such a system could work, as well as providing information about research that the company has conducted into gesture control for handsets.

Past Nokia handsets have allowed limited accelerometer control - for example, the 8800 allowed you to turn over a ringing phone to silence it. New plans could see the gesture system widely expanded.

Nokia proposed a number of different kinds of gestures to groups of people in Chicago, Mumbai, Shanghai and London, and asked for feedback.

One idea was to wave your phone in a spiral in the air if you wanted to find out your location on a map. This was welcomed by the Shanghai group who thought it'd be "cool to show friends", but Londoners were apparently concerned about waving their phones around in dodgy neighbourhoods.

The idea of kissing a phone to send a text message was brought up too. This was almost unanimously rejected by the focus groups, with one Malaysian nurse describing it as "quite cute, but awful for hygiene". Residents of Mumbai apparently asked why you'd want to kiss a phone, because it has no soul. Fair point, we suppose.

A gesture idea that went down better was the idea of tapping phones together to exchange contact info or files. One group member suggested that the giver of the info should be on top, and the receiver underneath so that it would give the appearance of gravity assisting the transfer.

Lastly, Nokia asked the groups to invent a gesture they'd like to see in a handset. Various suggestions came in including being able to silence a phone by staring intently at it, and skipping tracks on your music player by skipping as you walk along a street.

Nokia said that not all these ideas would make it to production, but that the most successful would be implemented in future handsets. The company also disclosed that it was looking into "smart materials" and using heat to convey information.

With the N97 poised for release, it'll be interesting to see which of these ideas make it into the N98 or other future Nokia handsets. There's also the possibility of older phones that include accelerometers and other sensors being issued with a software update that'll enable the use of gestures.

As ever, Pocket-lint will keep you abreast of developments.