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Experimenting With Light on Apple Laptops

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the the-joy-of-light dept.

120

venkatg writes "Soon after Apple introduced sudden motion sensors in their PowerBooks in early 2005, Amit Singh had shown how these sensors can be used for creative purposes (covered by Slashdot earlier as Having Fun With PowerBook Motion Sensors and PowerBook As A New Kind Of Human Interface Device). This time around Singh discusses 'Experimenting With Light' in a new article whereby by light he means the ambient light sensors and the illuminated backlight keyboard sensors in Apple's laptops. The article shows (source code is included) how one can measure ambient light and do things with it. It also shows things like how to get/set illuminated keyboard brightness and display brightness or do fade transitions of the keyboard lighting. So now that we have all these motion and light sensors under control, is there a MacBook discotheque in the works?"

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OMG I LUV STEVE JOBS' COCK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561052)

*Sigh* If only Linux had some proper hardware-sensors. But I assume it's just not ready for the desk- or laptop.

So, it's official.... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561057)

MacBooks, computers for the disco generation.

Re:So, it's official.... (0, Offtopic)

ggKimmieGal (982958) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561094)

MacBooks, computers for the Ipod generation.

Re:So, it's official.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561299)

Computer for the fuckin' trendhopper generation, that's what.

Re:So, it's official.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561413)

An ambient light sensor makes it thus?

Fuck, are you ever bitter.

Great (4, Funny)

dubmun (891874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561093)

Now we can finally communicate with the aliens!

How does the keyboard backlight work? (4, Insightful)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561099)

Is it just one light, or can individual keys be lit up? You could do a lot more with it that way.

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (1)

J3r3miah (753239) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561107)

i believe it lights up the keyboard altogether.

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561187)

Everyone: "I belive it lights up the keyboard!"

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561252)

Everyone: "I belive it lights up the keyboard!"

Surely you can't be serious?

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561336)

Some jokes just don't translate from speech to text.

And don't call me Shirley.

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561711)

Everyone: I can take sentence fragments out of context to make a lame joke.

Dumbass...

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561123)

I'm thinking Close Encounters-type scenarios...

bee-baw-bee-boo

boo-boo-bee-baw

and so on.

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (1)

fritzk3 (883083) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561689)

Interesting thought. You could use a concept like that to teach typing to young children, like one of those old programs from the 80s.

I suppose you could also make use of that idea to light up hotkeys applicable to RTS games, MMO games, etc.

Guess it just depends on whether individual key lighting is possible, and then how much programming would have to be implemented into an application to use the feature.

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562699)

It would be a cool concept, much like some "training keyboards" (of the musical variety) which light up keys for you to follow along. Now in reality I'd question how much someone can learn by just pressing the lighted key rather than really learning things properly (or by the all-black Das Keyboard!), but I suppose it could at least help you get a feel for it. However, as far as I can tell, you can only change the intensity of the backlight as a whole, not the individual keys, and the strength of the backlight is already modified by the ambient light. I honestly couldn't see it working well for highlighting hotkeys in games, because if you're staring at the keyboard then you're not paying enough attention to the game (a huge problem for FPS, but I couldn't see it working too well for RTS/MMO/other either). It is wonderful for doing stuff in the dark (even if you are a master of a keyboard), but until it can predict the next tool you want to select in Photoshop or what have you, it might as well just be all-or-nothing. I'm not going to lie, though - smackbook is awesome and surprisingly useful, even if it could use a bit more calibration.

Still, what's wrong with "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" for learning to type?

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15562193)

The keyboard illumination does not allow for individual key lighting.

The mechanism is a mat of fiber-optic cables which are illuminated by just two leds, which also cannot be independantly controlled.

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (1)

stanthegoomba (805724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562290)

Even though it looks like each letter is individually lit, there is only one light underneath the keyboard. The letters on the keys are simply transparent. Of course, there is a keyboard that can truly take advantage of individually lit keys:
http://www.artlebedev.com/portfolio/optimus/ [artlebedev.com]

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15562600)

Except for the slight problem that it doesn't exist, yeah, fantastic keyboard that Optimus.

Re:How does the keyboard backlight work? (1)

Wierdy1024 (902573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562606)

Thats a really nice keyboard on that site - bets on how much it'll cost when it comes out? With full software support, it'd be well worth having. You could even play gams on it - press the lit key, or some game of tetris or something. I can also see pranks where some malware swaps the keys around, so you type your bank pin into the wrong app...

Just wait 'till the blackhats get ahold of this! (4, Funny)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561101)

(mumbles to self...) Let's see... motion sensors, ambient light sensors, lots of indicator LEDS, backlit keyboard. Yep, we've got everything we need!(/mumbles)

Coming soon, from a black-hat hacker near you:
Siezure-O-Rama 1.0 !! Now, with 38% more unconsciousness!

Re:Just wait 'till the blackhats get ahold of this (1)

reklusband (862215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561112)

You joke, but I've had more than one friend who seized or stroked out due to to flashing/strobe lights. it's a serious situation, one that I'm happy to collect volunteers to test the viability of.

North Korea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561128)

North Korea's preparing to test-fire the smalldong-2 missle with an estimated range of 3500km to 6000km. Meanwhile, North Korean citizens are turning to cannibalism due to extreme food shortages. But cannibalism is illegal in North Korea, so cannibals are summarily dragged into the street and shot in broad daylight in plain sight of everyone to serve as a lesson. And we're sitting here happily slapping our sausages over some blinky lights.

Re:North Korea (2, Funny)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561168)

>> But cannibalism is illegal in North Korea, so cannibals are summarily dragged into the street and shot in broad daylight in plain sight of everyone to serve as a lesson. And we're sitting here happily slapping our sausages over some blinky lights.

Torrent?

Re:North Korea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561383)

Torrent?

Do you want the execution or the sausage-slapping?

Re:North Korea (1)

Smurf (7981) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562549)

Torrent?

Do you want the execution or the sausage-slapping?


Duh! Both!

Re:North Korea (0, Offtopic)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561348)

Meanwhile, North Korean citizens are turning to cannibalism due to extreme food shortages. But cannibalism is illegal in North Korea, so cannibals are summarily dragged into the street and shot in broad daylight in plain sight of everyone to serve as a lesson.

Obviously the solution is for the law-abiding citizens to eat the dead cannibals!

Oh wait...

Re:North Korea (0, Offtopic)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561504)

Well the obvious solution is to start hunting and eating the police for food.

At least it would make things interesting. Certainly from an enforcement aspect.

Re:North Korea (0, Offtopic)

bubkus_jones (561139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561561)

Didn't George Romero already make a movie about this?

In the year 2000... (4, Funny)

MudButt (853616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561104)

It would be pretty cool if someone wrote a program that makes your keyboard randomly blink a la The Original Star Trek (or many other 60's sci-fi shows). Am I the only one that's still impressed by random flashing lights on a computer? I know... I'm easily ammused...

Re:In the year 2000... (1)

zlogic (892404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561325)

It would look better if the keys were lit independently. But as I understand, you can only control the overall keyboard brightness. This would look as if some circut gets overloaded and the keyboard doesn't get enough power.
What would be better is keys that light independently - imagine keys flashing in rows or in circles (like sound waves in water) or in random order, looking like old-school mainframes shown in movies.

Re:In the year 2000... (2, Interesting)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561602)

Screw that. Get a tricolour LED behind every key, make the keycaps a tad more translucent, and tie it into iTunes. Throbbing keyboard visualiser.

Re:In the year 2000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561895)

Throbbing keyboard visualiser.

We geeks already have throbbing visualizers under our fingers. Visualize Natalie Portman!

Re:In the year 2000... (2, Informative)

qray (805206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561373)

While the lights on computers on sci-fi shows may have been random. Lights on real computers were hardly random. I worked with mini-computers that had a bank of LED's on the front. These corresponded to the bits of the CPU registers and CPU flags. A knowledgeable person could potentially figure out the crash location and some of the state of the machine during a crash. So the sci-fi shows weren't all inaccurate. Though it's reason for being in the movies is much like the sound of space ships roaring by in outer space.
--
Q

Re:In the year 2000... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15562188)

I am so disappointed that most (all) IDE drives do not come with LED connectors. However I have connected to the pin (39?) on the IDE bus for activity. Still only gives one light per 2 drive though.

A controller for the Wii? (1)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561109)

The WiiMac?

Re:A controller for the Wii? (1)

dubmun (891874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561121)

Can you imagine waving a MacBook around like a sword? :D

Re:A controller for the Wii? (1)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561202)

Hmm... maybe if in the game you were swinging a flaming sword?

Re:A controller for the Wii? (1)

Gobelet (892738) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561302)

You mean like this [youtube.com] ?

Re:A controller for the Wii? (1)

govtpiggy (978532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561274)

The iWii?

Re:A controller for the Wii? (1)

mad_minstrel (943049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561471)

It's called the Mac mini.

Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (1, Insightful)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561117)

When the MacBook gets too hot. Honestly, I love Apple and their designs, but they tend to put TOO much engineering into one aspect of their computers and not in other areas. The MacBooks get way too hot, het they have a nice and completely useless ambient light detection hardware. Perhaps if this ambient light detection hardware was replaced with, say, another fan, then perhaps the laptops wouldn't become space heaters so quickly.

Lets focus on basic principles first before adding superfluous features like magnetic power cables (which my $20 electric tea kettle had 10 years ago BTW) and ambient light sensors.

Its great that Apple has an API to control the ambient light sensor and keyboard backlighting, too bad Apple can't find the time to make an API to make gaming a focus for Apple computers. They do CLAIM that Mac's are Funner then PC's, I just haven't seen the proof yet. I don't think making my keyboard fade in and out is as fun as, well, doing anything else!

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561157)

...too bad Apple can't find the time to make an API to make gaming a focus for Apple computers.

Yeah, god forbid someone try to do some actual work on their laptop! Y'know, some people do have to work on darkened movie/tv sets, or dark classrooms, or any number of other dark places. Except you're too busy to notice that people are actually getting things done out there. All you want to do is pway your widdle games...

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561378)

Y'know, some people do have to work on darkened movie/tv sets, or dark classrooms

I think you mean darkrooms.

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561480)

widdle games

Perv! :-)

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (2, Insightful)

eko33 (982179) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561172)

You didn't know MacHeat(TM) was a feature in and of itself? Just fold your book down and place your Starbuck's ® coffee mug on top of it. Vwa-la! Your coffee is hot for hours.

Those mac guys are so clever.. and the PCs are so user friendly!

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561211)

What the fuck does "Vwa-la" mean you ignorant, illiterate fuck?

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561557)

Thank God someone else noticed.

The grammar and spelling faux pas around here are enough to make a literate person cry.

Maybe if the USA spent 10% less on WAR they might be able to afford a decent state education system...

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (1)

atokata (872432) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561696)

The only education programs that ever seem to get increased funding are things like abstinance-only sex education. And abstinance-only drug education. And abstinance-only debate classes.

Y'know, things that make us better at war.

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (3, Funny)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561301)

And don't forget the "Ouch!Hot!Ow!Damn!(tm)" overtemp detection system. In the rare/rumored/unprovable event a MacbookPro(tm) reaches 195 degrees Celcius (as reported by those scurrilous rumor sites) the second- and third-degree burns on your thighs serve as a gentle reminder to take a nice little computing break. Get up. Stretch. Walk around a bit. Bandage wounds. Enjoy!

Rumoured upgrade for os 1.5 -- face recognition engine uses built-in camera to detect pain threshold. Automatically throttles back CPU if user faints, or collapses from blood loss.

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (2, Insightful)

iotaborg (167569) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561177)

The thermal problem is something with the way the thermal paste is applied on the CPU, not the number of fans it has. Besides, light detection hardware, i.e. a photoresistor, costs pennies and fits on a screwhead.

The backlights have been on there for years. (3, Informative)

bellers (254327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561194)

The backlighting isn't something that was invented for the new Macbooks. It's been on the PPC-based powerbooks (that had no heat problem) for at least 2-3 years. Transferring it to the MacBookPros was pretty much a zero-engineering proposition.

Honestly, shut up until you know what you're talking about.

My suggestion... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561219)

President Bush's remarks to the U.N. General Assembly
Sept. 12, 2002

"The United Nations was born in the hope that survived a world war -- the hope of a world moving toward justice, escaping old patterns of conflict and fear. The founding members resolved that the peace of the world must never again be destroyed by the will and wickedness of any man. We created the United Nations Security Council, so that, unlike the League of Nations, our deliberations would be more than talk, our resolutions would be more than wishes. After generations of deceitful dictators and broken treaties and squandered lives, we dedicated ourselves to standards of human dignity shared by all, and to a system of security defended by all."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A41966-20 03Oct3?language=printer [washingtonpost.com] ...and the world turns their collective backs... Shame on you all. Cowards and appeasers, the lot of you!

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (1)

KuRa_Scvls (932317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561227)

I'm seriously just curious, but does anyone underclock their laptops?

it looks like a really decent way to use it...

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562173)

Modern laptops underclock themselves. If you're on battery the processor will usually drop it's clock rate to save power.

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561269)

All Apple laptops get really hot, especially why they are really used. Last summer I was doing one particular project on my Powerbook, I thought is was going to melt. But all engineering is a compromise, and one compromise Apple makes is to try not have it's computers imitate vacuum cleaners.

So the principles of engineering, the one that most companies ignore, is to create an optimized system. There is no reason to put in high speed hardware with a slow bus, even though such a thing might look good in the press copy. What is nice is that my post 2000 powerbooks were the first Macs to not have the power connectors broken inthe first two years, as opposed to my pre-2000 Macs that always have dodgy plugs.

The game thing is always an issue. I don't care about it anymore becuase I do not like being treaed as a criminal, so I try not to deal with comapnies that treat customers like criminals. I do agree that the backlight keyboard is a bit silly, and at times annoying, especially for touch typists that have never had problems typing in the dark.

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (1)

Strog (129969) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561294)

Mine only gets hot when the CPU is set to the highest setting. Most of the time I have it on battery with the reduced settings and it's cool.

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (4, Interesting)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561366)

Apple should use the motion sensor to detect when the powerbook is likely to be being used on a lap and automatically lower the power usage to reduce the temperature. That would be a really good way to show off the motion sensor.

A warm topic... (1)

Crisses (776475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561382)

My PPC PowerBook was getting hot. Hot enough to fry eggs. Eventually I got fed up. Something had to be wrong. I mean, it was nice in the winter when I kept the heat down to save $ but I had a cold -- just hug the laptop. Come Spring, I was afraid the fan would melt.

Turned out I had a plug-in in my Mail.app (a junk mail filter program I wasn't using anyway, but I installed and left there like a busy doofus) that was running the CPU AND making it take forever to mark email as junk, or to quit the program. Solved two problems by uninstalling the bugger... now my fans aren't running constantly, the CPU/disk temperatures are normal, and it takes at least 1/4 the time to deal with my email. I can put my laptop on my lap again without burning my thighs. I'll reinstall the plug-in in the winter ;)

I didn't have problems with heat on my old iBook 600mhz, and I no longer have problems with the PowerBook. Check your 'top' and what's running your cpu constantly, and keep in mind that laptops aren't gaming machines! :) If you're running Neverwinter's Nights on a laptop, it's going to get hot. My fans get spinning if I have a lot of apps (over 15 or 20) open, or I'm running the Adobe suite and editing large photos. It heats up during huge (30GB) disk transfers, etc. That's to be expected. Make sure your dashboard apps are up-to-date also! They're supposed to sleep when the dashboard is shut.

Apple mainly makes laptops to be laptops. ;) When you start up iDVD/iMovie, it's gonna crank up the heat. I know it's rather tempting to replace a desktop with one of these, but you can't squeeze as many fans in the case, and you only have about 1" height on the case for fan openings -- and it would be sucking in as much dust as it's letting hot air out.

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561646)

one compromise Apple makes is to try not have it's computers imitate vacuum cleaners.
So you're saying Apple wants to make computers that don't suck?

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (2, Insightful)

sheddd (592499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561409)

Lets focus on basic principles first before adding superfluous features like magnetic power cables

That's one of my favorite features... I went thru 3 power supplies on previous laptop from tripping over the power cable...

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (1)

mikelang (674146) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561510)

They'd do better if they just relicense Windows gaming API (DirectX).

Re:Perhaps keyboard backlighting could flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561607)

"When the MacBook gets too hot. Honestly, I love Apple and their designs, but they tend to put TOO much engineering into one aspect of their computers and not in other areas."

Waaaaa...

I picked up a MacBook Pro about two weeks ago as I needed to consolidate my laptops into one machine (and I think I'm going to be consolidating my desktop as well now)...I needed something that could do my Mac stuff for my time outside of work, and the PC for my day to day drudgery.

As part of my day to day drudgery, I ended up having to do quite a bit of transcoding of videos...I did it all with the 'book sitting on my lap. Sure, I had some jeans on and it got nice and toasty -- and according to the temperature dashboard it was as high as those that have been whinging the most about getting burned -- but nothing. I've done the same with shorts and ended up moving it to a table for a few minutes -- or when driving, putting a book under the computer.

Its not rocket science. Hot laptop -- give some distance between you and it.

Beyond that, people like me and been screaming about more speed in a laptop. This was the only way to get it. The non-Pro versions of the MacBook are a lot cooler -- and if you set the powersettings where you are only using one core, it too is pretty cool.

So given the resources and demands -- fastest machine possible -- and the fact that its not really a problem, why shouldn't apple put in a few premium features like the ambient light sensor and otherwise? I just don't see how its taken anything away from you.

Posting anonymously because I didn't feel like logging in...

basic principles (0)

Riquez (917372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561859)

"Lets focus on basic principles first before adding superfluous features"

I agree. Not having Windows on your computer, that's a good start.

Blackout Game (5, Interesting)

VorpalRodent (964940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561130)

I recall a game from not too long ago wherein one would push lighted buttons, and they would alternate the lighted status of those buttons around it. The objective was to turn off (or on, I forget) all the buttons on the unit.

With this, assuming that each key has a light associated with it, one could do the same thing with a whole keyboard.

And for those who don't have any issues with being violent towards their computers, you could reset it a la Etch-a-Sketch with the motion sensor.

Re:Blackout Game (2, Informative)

tgpo (976851) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561159)

Lights Out [wikipedia.org]

Re:Blackout Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561765)

I made a version of that game in Visual Basic around the time Lights Out came out. It'll run on windows, or Linux with WINE. Don't know about macs. Doesn't light up their keyboards, i'm afraid.

You can get it at http://www.winsite.com/bin/Info?1974 [winsite.com]

"Lights Out" (1)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561412)

I have the game. It's called Lights Out. Here [hasbro.com] is the manufacturer's page (it's made by Tiger [tigerelectronics.com] ), and here [clara.co.uk] is an interesting page about it.

Re:Blackout Game (4, Funny)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561520)

20 bucks in shareware for anyone who can program me an etch-a-sketch plug in for photoshop that allows me to wipe a frustrating layout off the screen by me violently shaking the laptop. It would be far more cheaper than therapy.

(of course one could surmise that anyone who wants this in leu of therapy might have issues - but I'd call those people just plain nuts)

Before the Mac bashers go crazy with this one.... (4, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561143)

.... I don't think this article is here as another "Oooh.... the Macbook and Steve Jobs are awesome!" story. The intriguing part is how its users are "thinking different" to an extent Apple themselves didn't seem to. Already, people have taken the relatively boring "sudden motion sensor" that Apple only thought of implementing to help prevent hard drive crashes, and used it for a motion-sensing laptop security system, to roll marbles around in maze games by tilting the laptop, and even to switch virtual desktops by lightly tapping the left or right-hand sides of the machine to "bump" the desktop over one direction or the other.

Now, they're tackling the ambient light sensors, which again, serve a relatively "boring" (if still useful) purpose. I'm intrigued to see what imaginative people will end up doing with this one too. For starters, I could envision some usefulness in things like making the backlit keyboard blink in a repeating pattern to indicate completion of recording in certain audio programs. (Many recording studio environments are kept dark so you can easily see all the readouts on the displays of the equipment while working. Macbook Pros are going to be popular in these environments, and it might be nice to get a subtle indication it finished transcoding or recording some audio - even if the display went blank due to a screen saver?)

The really 'amazing' thing is... (1, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561199)

...that this shit has been around as components for PCs (the 'IBM' kind, I know a Mac is a PC) for a long time now. Yet nobody's been running out to buy these as extras to have this sort of fun with. The only thing 'Apple' should be credited with is adding them out of the box indeed... it's the users who are finally having fun with it, because it's there without having to pay extra and attach devices.

That said.. those new SONY VAIOs (OMG ROOTKIT PONIES!) have a fingerprint reader built-in... c'mon VAIO users, hop to it, 'Think Different', and make Slashdot's front page.

Re:The really 'amazing' thing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561750)

Fingerprint readers are insecure and unreliable, a perfect match for Windows I guess.

Re:The really 'amazing' thing is... (2, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562171)

I suppose the thing is that before Apple did it, there was no way of getting access to the sensor data. I have a laptop with tha hard drive sensor in it, but the sensor is claimed by the "ACPI motion sensor" driver. Instead, the Apple driver outputs a simple value accessible from userspace.

I know you can get accellerometer and other sensors for the PC easily, but they were usually external, and internal built in ones were usually hidden from software view. All it took was Apple to start making it easy to access the information...

Re:Before the Mac bashers go crazy with this one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561201)

.... I don't think this article is here as another "Oooh.... the Macbook and Steve Jobs are awesome!" story.


I should hope not. I don't think many non-Apple-zealots will be impressed with blinky lights.

For starters, I could envision some usefulness...


I love that phrasing! Translation - you're trying really really hard to make this out as not being a completely pointless thing to be working on. You almost succeded too - props.

Re:Before the Mac bashers go crazy with this one.. (2, Informative)

black6host (469985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561243)

Just an observation, as nobody has mentioned it, this is not restricted to just Macs. Some, if not all, of the new Sony Vaio laptops incorporate this to minimize damage to the hard drives if a light physicsl shock to the system occurs.

If you shake it like an etch-a-scetch you get a window that pops up and tells you the heads are being moved to a safer place or something similiar. The one I saw doing it had an Intel core duo chip in it. A fine piece of machinery. Until something simple broke in the mouse touchpad that made the laptop unusable. But that hard drive wsa safe :)

The killer app (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561169)

As soon as the light dims, iTunes will automatically start the Barry White playlist and some soft porn starts to play via Front Row. All that is left for you to do is to hug yourself and cry yourself to sleep, feeling oh so lonely, lonely, lonely.

Re:The killer app (1)

cspargo (858706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562056)

I think you are on the right track...in all seriousness you could use the keyboard lights as a form of feedback. For example, say you get a new email: Not only will the sound play but the keyboard will blink twice. Also useful if in case you are deaf and can't hear sound. Maybe a "message waiting" blink that could be noticed from across the room would help people just like when the light blinks on a telephone ring. Take a lesson from the Sidekick/hiptop!

Sounds like fun (3, Interesting)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561176)

Don't really know if I see much useful application in it but I suppose it can't hurt. It could be really useful for power saving or even some scheduling stuff. It could also have some interesting security applications (say cover the light sensor as part of a keyboard combination)

I saw a video of the sudden motion sensor being used to switch desktops and it looked really great. Good luck to anyone who thinks they can do something useful. Someday we could all benefit.

I also find it interesting that sudden motion sensors were available on Thinkpads before Powerbooks but I never heard of people using them in different ways. That's a pretty good advert for Apple. Sums up the image that Apple put out much better than those TV ads.

Brilliant, New Mail indicator (5, Interesting)

TristanBrotherton (857376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561178)

Fantastic, I wanted to know how to do this so i could write a new mail indicator. Lots of itme i dont like my macbook to speak, so now i can write a script to pulse the keyboard backlights when i get mail. Brilliant, they are bright enough to blind bats so should be quite effective.

Alternate Title (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561214)

"Apple Computers Used for LSD Trip"

Concentrate that light! (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561223)

With a little effort, we can swap out these weak lights with high-intensity lasers! I've always wanted a lappy with a "Real Genius" death ray. Plus, I could use it to make popcorn.

Re:Concentrate that light! (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561291)

And the supercooling that makes it work would solve the heat problem, too.

ideas for other applications (1)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561304)

auto screen lock - if laptop is not moved for X seconds, lock the screen - analagous to someone using on their lap putting it down on a table

burglar alarm - if laptop is moved, send a distress call

intruder detector - if a beam of light shone onto light detector flickers, then intruder detected

Lightspeed network (1)

ethan Gutmann (983556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561529)

How about hooking up two computers with spotlights (or lasers?), then have them use the spotlight to send a messages that the other computer detects with the light sensor. You could set up a network, possibly over quite long distances. It might be a little slow and limited to line of sight, but how cool would this be!?!

Re:Lightspeed network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561814)

Or you could just use the built in wireless networking cards...

Re:Lightspeed network (1)

ethan Gutmann (983556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562424)

which would indeed be much faster, but misses out on the sheer geekiness of it.

Re:Lightspeed network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15562501)

Now I can justify the purchase of FOUR MacBook Pros, since I have a two-car garage with separate doors! We don't want the cat to get run over trying to sneak back under the moving door!

Burglar alarm (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561575)

is already there [orbicule.com] . And they can take a picture of the theft too.

Other appication (3, Interesting)

jackjeff (955699) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561311)

Erling Ellingsen has also been playing with the sudden motion and ambient light sensors. He hacked a Virtual Desktop tool, where you have to hit the laptop, or put your hand over a sensitive area, in order to change desktops.

http://blog.medallia.com/2006/05/smacbook_pro.html [medallia.com]

Let's learn some English! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15561319)

whereby by whereby by whereby by whereby by

WTF LOL OMG BBQ

Obvious application (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561329)

All you need to do now is strap the laptop to your head (duct tape) and go to the disco. As you dance, the motion sensors and light sensors cause the lights and sound of your Apple laptop to "dance" in time to the music and your cool moves.

We all knew that Apple users were already "way cool" and this will put them over the top. There's no way we can compete now.

No. (1)

danimrich (584138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561485)

So now that we have all these motion and light sensors under control is there a MacBook discotheque in the works?

The MacBooks don't have a lit keyboard or an ambient light sensor, only the MacBook Pros do.

given their heat issues (0)

TheDrewbert (914334) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561499)

Macbook inferno

Must be a slow news day... (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561691)

cause last time I checked the percentage of power book owners in the laptop sector was less than 7%, and on top of it the people interested in making their PowerBook do flipflops and 'interesting' things with motion sectors and light sensors has to be about 1-2% (at best, maybe).

Woohoo! Boktai for the Mac! (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561703)

I smell updates for all popular Mac GBA emulators coming :-)

Finally, a properly emulated version of Boktai [wikipedia.org] for Macs! Or maybe even an official Mac version? One can dream, can't one? :-)

Not bashing but a real use..... (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561877)

So, instead of bashing one camp or the other, how about some ideas of how to use this technology.....

With the ambient light sensors, you could display an image on the screen and adjust the lighting acording to the ambient light (there were left and right sensors). You could even turn your computer into a sundial (ever post needs a link to the Wiki, so here's mine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_dial [wikipedia.org] ). Point your notebook due north and check the time. Too bad the motion sensor didn't include an electronic compass like in my car.....

Layne

or... (2, Insightful)

m874t232 (973431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15561934)

you could just use the built-in camera, which lets you measure not just light levels, but even light levels at hundreds of thousands of pixels!

Where are the ambient light sensors? (1)

mindstormpt (728974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562450)

We already have lightsabers [macsaber.com] , wouldn't it be nice if we had mind tricks too? You'd just wave your hand over the sensor and the mac would do anything you asked.

Disco (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562472)

So now that we have all these motion and light sensors under control, is there a MacBook discotheque in the works?"

Consider, for a moment, the traditional Mac user. These are often very smart, very intellectual people. They enjoy culture, fine achievements and the arts. They enjoy long philosophical discussions that, whilst boring to many others, are deeply important to them. They prefer an environment that isn't necessarily the most competetive but has a reassuring sense of doing everything right rather than rushing through the modern world and all the kludginess that seems to bring with it. They enjoy sitting in coffee houses, where their apple logo is even more of a lifestyle symbol than a starbucks cup, and working on worthy novels.

In short, they are society's university lecturers.

Do we really need to give them a faculty disco?

why use 'whereby' (1)

elmuhfuh (942644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562593)

whereby by? if you are not going to use this word correctly, why use it at all? maybe 'in which' would be easier for you.

Light show! (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 8 years ago | (#15562697)

First developer to make a MacBook do this [google.com] will receive 1,000 points, and quite possibly the Coolest Mac App of the Year award. :-)
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