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Having Fun With PowerBook Motion Sensors

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the twist-and-shout dept.

OS X 81

mjk325 writes "Amit Singh has published a discussion on the 'Sudden Motion Sensor' feature in the latest revision PowerBooks. One utility he has released displays a 3-D view of the PowerBook that follows the actual movement of the physical machine. Another utility creates windows that rotate in opposite directions to the physical machine to appear always straight. My brand new PB has the motion sensor, but apparently the utilities work on any system using software faking."

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Sweet. (4, Funny)

Protoclown (692316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11833801)

This is cool enough to make me want a PowerBook.

Re:Sweet. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11834163)

IBM ThinkPads have the same feature (and even the same sort of visualization utility).

Re:Sweet. (1)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 9 years ago | (#11842958)

What's this motion sensor for btw? Is it meant to serve the same purpose as those in IBM thinkpads?

Anyway I'm not so sure how well it works though, it is not as if the constant shutting off/powering up of the hard disk drive is going to do it any good in the long term..

Re:Sweet. (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11849657)

Consider the alternative: a head crash from a dropped laptop. Which would you rather have?

Security? (5, Interesting)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 9 years ago | (#11833890)

Seems like this could be used to implement some sort of security feature. Turn on a utility, and when significant movement is detected the computer could send out a signal- in the form of activating an attached alarm, taking a picture with a webcam and emailing it, etc etc. When the owner returns, the utility could be quickly turned back off.

Re:Security? (5, Interesting)

Pirogoeth (662083) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837506)

How about a security feature where besides entering a password, you need to tip your PB around in a certain pattern before it will unlock?

Re:Security? (5, Funny)

servognome (738846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845367)

you need to tip your PB around in a certain pattern before it will unlock?
You know everybody will set their pattern to Up-Up-Down-Down...

Re:Security? (1)

macshome (818789) | more than 9 years ago | (#11896937)

And Up-Down-Up-Down-Left-Right-A-B will unlock turbo mode?

Re:Security? (1)

KelBay (829993) | more than 9 years ago | (#11851894)

I would sooner have modded that (Score:5,Funny) I woudn't want to take a chance that my boss could memorize the patterns my twirling power book would make through the ether.

Re:Security? (1)

DavidLeblond (267211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11844806)

Ha! How about a utility that formats the hard drive by shaking the Powerbook like an etch-a-sketch?

Re:Security? (1)

DavidLeblond (267211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11844828)

A tip for anybody reading this to avoid the Redundant moderation that I'm eventually bound to receive:

Read all comments before submitting your own. It doesn't matter how original you think it is, everyone else on Slashdot has already thought of it.

And don't reply to your own comment, you'll get modded "Offtopic"

No imagination (4, Funny)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11833913)

Obviously, you all have no imagination.

What is clearly needed is a plug-in that clears the screen when the unit is held upside-down and shaken!

Or a version of Marble Madness that uses the tilt of the machine to control the marble.

Re:No imagination (1)

Digital Warfare (746982) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834001)

Sort of like an Etcha-Sketch

Re:No imagination (0)

fracai (796392) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834030)

well somebody ate their Wheaties this morning.

Re:No imagination (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11836891)

Gosh, ya think?

semi-obligatory Simpsons quote (1)

Gumph (706694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834075)

What is clearly needed is a plug-in that clears the screen when the unit is held upside-down and shaken!
Wowbagger, I don't like to use the word Hero lightly but You...

...are the greatest Hero known to mankind.
Genius!!! - finally life has imitated art once more and the famous Dilbert and the PHB laptop strip can now be made a reality
Love it.

Re:semi-obligatory Simpsons quote (1, Funny)

Art Hurph Ill Ipdens (864582) | more than 9 years ago | (#11835727)

Wowbagger, I don't like to use the word Hero lightly but You...

...are the greatest Hero known to mankind.

Not hardly.

He's a jerk, complete kneebiter, brainless prat, and a no-good dumbo nothing!

Re:completely wrong wowbagger quote (1)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11839832)

Oh come on Art Hur!

He's "a jerk, a complete asshole."

Oh wait. That's what wowbagger said to Arthur.

Re:semi-obligatory Simpsons quote (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11839773)

Slow down there, cowboy. If this were to imitate the Dilbert strip, then shaking it upside down would reboot. Not clear the screen.

Re:No imagination (1)

tomservo291 (863856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834089)

Marble madness was my childhood. Fond memories of that dank video rental store.

Re:No imagination (5, Funny)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834090)

Or, now that I think about it, a flying game wherein the tilt of the laptop controls the yoke of the aircraft - imagine the fun of sitting in a cybercafe holding your Powerbook in your hands and going "Vrroommm! PowPowPow!"

Or rather, the fun of watching somebody else doing that....

Re:No imagination (3, Interesting)

ameline (771895) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834275)

You (and the moderators too) think you're joking. But I'm not. If, and as soon as, that capability is available in any widespread manner on a tablet PC (or a, purely hypothetical, tablet mac), Alias Sketchbook will exploit it in the way you describe. (There will probably be a preference to turn it off and/or adjust it's sensitivity. Wouldn't want it to happen accidentally.) Cheers

Re:No imagination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11835053)

This is what /. should be all about. Not one, but TWO BRILLIANT suggestions within moments of a first post.

Bravo!

I hereby nominate parent for the prestigious "Post of the Year" award.

Etch-A-Sketch! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11835185)

Finally! My Powerbook can be an etch-a-sketch. You could even get two of these [griffintechnology.com] for the knobs, if you're really into it...

Re:No imagination (2, Funny)

MrScience (126570) | more than 9 years ago | (#11839537)

Obligatory Dilbert cartoon [purdue.edu] . I'd link to the original [dilbert.com] , but can't find it.

Re:No imagination (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11841087)

I was thinking more of a virtual snow globe, but you're on to something. With two of these [griffintechnology.com] you could have that etchasketch experience right on the desktop.

Re:No imagination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11844744)

Or you could buy an Etch-a-sketch? Sorry.

imac 2 (2, Interesting)

FirienFirien (857374) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834026)

When the imac 2 (flatscreen, hemisphere base) first came out, the number of swivel specs interested me enormously - I thought you could rotate the screen, ie change from landscape to portrait, which would be great for editing A4 pages in photoshop, reading long documents, etc etc... this software brings back that interest, though I appreciate that the weight of the base might be a physical setup issue. Ooh. Screw the base upside down into a shelf above; the screen is upside down, use the software to turn it right way up. No cds and dvds, but clears a bundle of desk space.

Re:imac 2 (3, Interesting)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834221)

Do you remember the Radius Pivot? [gifford.co.uk]

Re:imac 2 (1)

FirienFirien (857374) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834452)

Ooh. Nope, but it's exactly the same idea. Presumably that also relied on software?

Re:imac 2 (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11835031)

Well, I never used one, so I couldn't say how well Mac OS 5 handled on-the-fly mdoe switches

Re:imac 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11839636)

Firmware in the monitor, if memory serves. I hooked one up to a Duo dock. In "tall" mode, it was just about the perfect size and shape for editing 8.5" x 11" documents, and in "wide" mode it was about the same height as a lot of other monitors of the time, but slightly wider.

Radius -- maybe my Pivot will work on my Pbook now (2, Interesting)

ankhank (756164) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836041)

I'm still using my Radius Pivot, as the second monitor on my G3 Powerbook Pismo.

Of course the pivot feature hasn't worked since OS 7 or 8 or something.

Maybe there's something in this new approach that will let me once again turn the Pivot monitor to Portrait. I sure hope so.

I just hate landfilling still functioning tools.

Re:Radius -- maybe my Pivot will work on my Pbook (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836549)

what new approach?

Re:Radius -- maybe my Pivot will work on my Pbook (1)

ankhank (756164) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837794)

Someone's written software that lets the Macintosh rotate what's on the screen, as I understand it, so if the screen is turned 90 degrees to "portrait" mode, the text remains readable -- if I understood the story. (Not Apple's software; third party software.)

Forget about the motion sensor aspect, all I want is to be able to tell the Mac that it has a monitor in portrait position -- like used to work.

Re:Radius -- maybe my Pivot will work on my Pbook (2, Insightful)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11838197)

it only works on macs with a motion sensor, which is only the new powerbook upgrades.

you may have an option [macosxhints.com]

Re:Radius -- maybe my Pivot will work on my Pbook (2, Insightful)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11841291)

did you read the article? He has it working on a Mac without a motion sensor, he uses the mouse to give input to the routine. It would be simple to have a button to click to rotate 90 degrees.

Re:Radius -- maybe my Pivot will work on my Pbook (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843305)

He has it working on a Mac without a motion sensor, he uses the mouse to give input to the routine. It would be simple to have a button to click to rotate 90 degrees.

But it's not the same as having the monitor resync automatically when you tilt it.

Re:Radius -- maybe my Pivot will work on my Pbook (2, Interesting)

BeerCat (685972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11839877)

Still using it? You're lucky. I remember at work some colleagues had one, (being used as a second monitor beside one of the monster 21" displays), and it was very cool to watch (it was also very cool to watch bouncing ball screensavers adjust to the different screen dimensions). They had to leave it alone after a few months, as it made worrying buzzing moises when tilted one way. I think they had played with it so much that they were close to breaking the mercury switch that triggered the mode change.

Re:imac 2 (1)

all your mwbassguy a (720029) | more than 9 years ago | (#11840781)

heck yeah! my mom had a monochrome radius pivot with her IIsi. way cool with quark 3.1.

Re:imac 2 (2, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11841078)

ATI's cards have been able to do this for a while- there's an option in the driver control panel to make the image (and corresponding resolutions) sideways or upside-down. Mounting the monitor so that it can be used in that mode remains an exercise for the reader.

Physical Tilt Games... (5, Interesting)

fracai (796392) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834159)

Tilt games using ball bearings need to be developed as soon as possible to make use of this.

The pBook is light enough to make it feasible for a little while anyway. My only concern would be causing the drive heads to park to often due to "agressive" playing. The article implies that you can disable the head parking, but then I'd be worried about disk damage.

I wonder what the threshold is for head parking?

Re:Physical Tilt Games... (5, Informative)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834188)

There already is such a game. It is called Neverball [icculus.org]

Re:Physical Tilt Games... (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834377)

ah, right. I remember trying this out a while back. This is a perfect example of something that could take advantage of the AMS capabilities.

Re:Physical Tilt Games... (4, Insightful)

Steve Cowan (525271) | more than 9 years ago | (#11835783)

If I was physically tilting and jostling my PowerBook to play a silly little game I would probably want to park the hard drive anyway, and keep it parked until the game ends.

Pinball, anyone?

Re:Physical Tilt Games... (1)

TCM (130219) | more than 9 years ago | (#11850514)

Don't you mostly play silly little games while waiting for a task to finish in the background?

Re:Physical Tilt Games... (1)

Steve Cowan (525271) | more than 9 years ago | (#11858506)

Good point. Still I wouldn't thrash my powerbook around while its hard drive is reading/writing. So... those silly little background tasks would have to be on remote volumes I guess.

Sudden Motion Sensor or ... (1)

DJMeatBall (674125) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834160)

... Subtle Motion Sensor? Can the Powerbook detect even slight movements in its position? Or is this sensor just meant for drastic changes in X/Y/Z position? If it handles subtle, then I can definitely imagine plugging the machine into an external monitor and using my PB as a steering wheel to drive my way to ruin through Vice City.

Same as IBM ThinkPad sensor? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11834259)

The hacks are pretty cool, but the utility that displays the Powerbook orientation realtime in 3D seems to be exactly like the ThinkPad active protection util that IBM has been shipping for quite some time now.

Re:Same as IBM ThinkPad sensor? (1, Funny)

CompVisGuy (587118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837444)

Yes, it is. Apparently companies other than Apple innovate. I'd heard the rumour, but didn't dare believe it.

CHILD MOD UP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11841311)

This is Insightful, Interesting, and even FUNNY but NOT FLAMEBAIT!

Obviously flagged by a self richeos apple user! :P

for geologist out there (4, Funny)

cassidyc (167044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834461)

Just stick one on the ground and wait for earthquakes, who needs all that specialist equipment

CJC

Re:for geologist out there (1)

isotpist (857411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11835180)

Even better, take in into the field and measure orientations.

Re:for geologist out there (1)

Anarchitect_in_oz (771448) | more than 9 years ago | (#11839792)

How about a @Home application?
But in this case to collect data not process.
If you could get all the new Powerbooks to sign up to the network, next time there is an earth quake in the area it would record the shaking.

Might be really interesting to model how the energy waves flow if you could get enough data at various point locations.
just realised it may need a gps to any value.

Thinkpad (4, Interesting)

Vaystrem (761) | more than 9 years ago | (#11834536)

I own a Thinkpad T41 which has this feature. One of the coolest things, to my friends, is that you can set the applet, which monitors harddrive shocks, to display the laptop in real time. It doesn't display vertical movement, however, it will show you flipping it upside-down, angling it in any direction, etc. It is pretty neat.

Re:Thinkpad (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11839950)

Is it possible that Amit got this idea from using such a laptop? He does work at IBM...

Where did you get this program? I have a T40 which should have the same feature and would like to try it out.

Re:Thinkpad (2, Informative)

Vaystrem (761) | more than 9 years ago | (#11841318)

If you have a Thinkpad, with Active System Protection, do the following:

Control Panel
IBM Active Protection
Real Time Status

I'm running version 1.23 of the software and it is there that it displays the Notebook as you rotate it in realtime.

Wait a minute... (1)

NEOtaku17 (679902) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836067)

"Another utility creates windows that rotate in opposite directions to the physical machine to appear always straight."

Wait just one minute...Wouldn't that just look like regular 2-D windows on a flat monitor?!

Re:Wait a minute... (2, Informative)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 9 years ago | (#11839803)


No, not rotating in 3D. Rotating in 2D.

The point is that the top of the window will always be up, relative to the earth, regardless of what orientation the laptop is in.

The window behaves like a compass needle, only relative to real-up and real-down, instead of north and south.

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846125)

I belive the tool analogy you are looking for is "Plumb bob"

-WS

Is your desktop perturbed? (3, Funny)

lpangelrob2 (721920) | more than 9 years ago | (#11836763)

That Perturbed Desktop [kernelthread.com] application is the funniest thing I've ever seen.

In spite of the author's quote, "Needless to say, it is quite a hellish experience trying to use the computer in this manner," it's just asking for someone to install it on some poor clod's computer, getting him drunk, and then have him try to do something productive like code in Perl.

"Hey... WTF does an upside down exclamation point stand for?"

[tinfoil] okay. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11837481)

i did not know my powerbook had that feature.

what other 'environment monitoring' features does it have?

Whoa! (5, Interesting)

CaycePollard (828051) | more than 9 years ago | (#11838117)

Just checked this out on my Al 15 1.67 and it's so cool it superconducts.

This is the first piece of software that's had me drop my jaw for ages. Well done. I swear I will pay good money for the first "shake the machine and the window clears" etch-a-sketch plug-in for Pages or Keynote :)

Re:Whoa! (1)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 9 years ago | (#11842505)

Once the Etch-A-Sketch plug in is working on a TABLET Mac, I'll buy it.

It would be a scene straight out of Dilbert, only with a real computer...

Acceleration Detector + GPS = differential GPS (4, Interesting)

kris_lang (466170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11838842)

Hmmm... differential GPS just depends on having a local waypoint to give you a very accurate position, beyond the 1-3 meter resolution of GPS.

Now why not keep track of the accelerations, integrate (SUM) over time to get the velocity, integrate once again to get the spatial location. You could keep a log of where the laptop goes while it's on. Hmm... I might have to buy one of these toys, make the software and put it in the passenger seat of my car and see what I can make it do...

I remember a circuit cellar article about a 3-d accelerometer, but I didn't feel like dinking around with a soldering iron that year. Looks like a new powerbook will let me accomplish that long-delayed task with software alone.

Must acquire cash for purchase NOW :)

Don't worry, you don't need a powerbook (3, Interesting)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11839580)

You can build something like this for any laptop. The parts would be something like a USB module like this [pololu.com] ($20 unless you're happy just using a regular serial port), an Atmel AVR microcontroller (this ($30 for the development board which is easier to use than just the component). The accelerometer outputs a pulse with a width that varies linearly with acceleration you can just write a simple loop on the AVR (using avr-gcc [overta.ru] ) to count the pulse length and then report back via the USB (or serial port). Total cost: probably well under $100 including building an AVR programmer [kuro5hin.org] .

Re:Don't worry, you don't need a powerbook (1)

kris_lang (466170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11839954)

hey, that sounds like the circuit cellar article I mentioned above...

Re:Don't worry, you don't need a powerbook (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11840008)

I guess it's pretty obvious if you're vaguely familiar with what parts are available. But it's probably a surprise to many people just how easy it is to piece these parts together.

Re:Don't worry, you don't need a powerbook (1)

joleary (730795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11868269)

There is already a board out there. Kionix, the same company that Apple used for the accelerometer, has a demo board (serial and USB) with a tri-axis accelerometer on it. Plug it in and get everything the new PB has. They have software with source code and a pretty good manual available for download. Pretty cool stuff.

Recalibrating? (1)

ukleafer (845880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11839945)

I've just been trying this on my new 15" pb, but it seems to be a bit confused - the AMSVisualiser image is at about 20deg, when the laptop is flat on the desk.

Is there any way to recalibrate the sensor?

Re:Recalibrating? (5, Funny)

adjusting (32309) | more than 9 years ago | (#11840057)

Put a book under one leg of your desk?

Personal Experiment... (5, Interesting)

DoctaBu (770499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11840508)

If anybody is interested, I have recorded a video of the rotation of the two programs on the website.

You will notice that with the StableWindow, sometimes its a bit off, and with the AMSVisualizer, the Y-axis animations seem to be backwards. But, who cares? It's neat anyway.

PowerBook Tilting! [dotsomething.net]

Re:Personal Experiment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11841408)

Thanks DoctaBu!

Very cool :)
(But I see what you mean about the backwards movement)

That's Awesome! (1)

jnetsurfer (637137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11844753)

Thanks for posting that so those of us without a PB could see this software actually in action. It looks much cooler seeing how it actually works on a real machine that's being tilted.

iSight + Motion Sensor + Looking Glass = Awesome! (1)

metalligoth (672285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11840977)

Could you imagine the possibilities on this thing if you added some Looking Glass features and used an iSight?

Most people would surely have no use for it, but it could lead to some interesting games. Maybe something like virtual geocaching?

It's for his book. (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11841309)

If you read TFA, you'll find out that he did this hack to use as an example for his forthcoming book on OS X. Amit Singh is a very original thinker with what I consider a deep and dry wit. I'm really looking forward to this book.

The ultimate application of a notebook acceleromet (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11841313)

Set aside an ungodly huge frame buffer, and move the notebook around like it's a tiny window into another dimension. Imagine having a rendevous moment where you have to walk across the street to retrieve a stray iChat window. You might even want to upgrade to WiFi with triangulation, then everybody's notebook could share this "framebuffer dimension" If you put your notebook back to back with somebody else's and read their screen backwards! Don't forget to have a well firewalled desktop, preferably with a brick tile ;)

See also: Croquet

What? (1)

Che Guevarra (85906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11841426)

Does anyone know how to turn this off? Because it's supposed to open my chute in about 3 seconds.

force feedback this (2, Funny)

aneroid (856995) | more than 9 years ago | (#11842420)

instead of adjusting the screen to the movements of the PowerBook...have it lunge at u everytime someone fires a rocket.

or if u want to stick to the technology at hand, u could use it to control the flight of the redeemer.

heck, if u run fast enough, u can make it go faster...just don't jump the railings if u're more than 10-15 floors up. u'll lose too many health points.

Uh Oh! (2, Funny)

Blowfishie (677313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11842805)

Apple service centers are going to be swamped by dropped laptops once this becomes well known.

"I was... erm... just holding it like you normally do. Honest! Can I keep my warranty?"

Track & Field Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11851917)

Yeah, I downloaded it about 5 minutes ago. The hurdles event was pretty cool. I'm trying the discus now#)@VZ[[[[NO CARRIER
-- Dan in Canada
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