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智能手机新玩法:挤一挤,捏一捏

智能手机新玩法:挤一挤,捏一捏

Michael Fitzpatrick 2012年10月17日
如今的智能手机用户已经习惯了在触摸屏上滑动手指完成操作,然而,随着可折叠柔性新材料和新技术的发展,未来几年可能出现新型的智能手机。握住手机,挤一挤、捏一捏就可以发出指令,完成各种不同功能。

    我们和自己的智能手机早已亲密无间,几乎不加思索就会用手指在手机屏幕上点触及滑动。现在,日本的一家手机制造商正在设法让我们与智能手机的接触更加亲密,差不多通过挤压、挤捏手机就能发出指令。

    日本最大的移动运营商NTT-DoCoMo最近在东京展示了一款手机,这款手机不仅可以对通常的屏幕触摸做出反应,而且还能对施加在手机边缘的压力做出反应。他们称之为Grip UI用户界面。

    设计目的是便于用户在用一只手的情况下(比如在地铁上用一只手拉住车厢内的柱子时)也能控制智能手机。这是一系列触控式新兴科技产品(甚至可弯曲的手机)中最新推出的功能,这些产品不久有望商业化,以此利用人们与生俱来的、在操纵有触觉感知能力、而且反应灵敏的物体方面的喜爱。迪斯尼研究(Disney)中心匹兹堡实验室的伊凡•普珀雷夫说:“压力感知是手机行业里的一个非常令人感兴趣的研究方向,因此这是很了不起的技术。”他是世界上触觉学领域的主要研究人员之一。

    Docomo的这款基于安卓操作系统的手机周身镶嵌了270个感应条,从而使用户光凭挤压手机边框就能完成至少四个有用的操作。比如,用一只手的所有五个手指紧握这款智能手机的两侧,就能使原先处于休眠模式的手机屏幕解锁启动。用两个手指在手机两侧的中间部位挤捏一下,就相当于按下“后退”按钮。这款手机在东京的日本电子高新科技联展上首次亮相时,其一名展示者解释说:“对于那些你无法按压的图标而言,可以转而使用抓握的方式来实现控制。”

    Docomo不知道这款手机什么时候可能会投产。但像这款手机那样柔韧的电子产品可能还具有其他有益的用途。普珀雷夫称,通过指尖挤压就能控制任何手持式电子产品,这还只是一个开始。10年前,普珀雷夫曾与德国设计师卡斯滕•史维茨西及日本设计师森英次郎进行过合作,尝试为索尼(Sony)研制出世界上第一个可弯曲电子产品的原型。他们调查研究了俗称“Gummi”(德文意思是橡胶)的独特构想。它是一款可弯曲、而且尺寸只有信用卡般大小的电子产品。

    要想点击,只需双手握住这款电子产品,让它弯曲即可。这款产品成为世界各地有可能面市的可弯曲型手机的典范,比如去年首次露面的诺基亚(Nokia)Kinetic手机原型。这款诺基亚手机采用了由三星(Samsung)开发的柔性有机发光显示屏(OLED)技术。三星称,这项技术将会在2013年年初引入市场。它的构想是利用这些最近成功商业化的纤薄有机屏幕所固有的柔韧性。

    到目前为止,最先进的柔性OLED屏幕非常纤薄(相当于人类一根头发的宽度),而且柔性非常强。这种彩色屏幕播放流媒体视频的时候,甚至可以把屏幕绕在一支铅笔上。

    未来的诸多应用可能包括结合由英国公司Plastic Logic制造的可弯曲型电子产品。或者结合由加拿大皇后大学(Queen's University)人类媒体实验室(the Human Media Lab)的研究人员利用电子纸研制出的一款被称为“纸手机”(paperphone)的可弯曲手机。相关研究人员表示,当在这款“纸手机”的边角或侧边处弯曲或折叠时,就能启动智能手机的各种不同功能。

    We are already pretty intimate with our smartphones, poking and swiping their screens almost without second thought. Now a Japanese phone maker is making the case we go a step further, literally squeezing and pinching them to do our bidding.

    The country's biggest mobile carrier, NTT Docomo, showed off a mobile phone in Tokyo recently that responds not only to the usual screen touches but also to pressure applied at its edges. They call it Grip UI.

    The idea is to make controlling a smart phone easier with one hand, while, for example, hanging by one hand from a pole on the subway. It is the latest in a range of emerging technology haptic gadgets -- and even bendable phones -- that promise commercialization soon and that exploit our innate love of manipulating tactile, responsive objects. "Pressure sensitivity is a very interesting direction for phones so this is great technology," says Ivan Poupyrev one of the world'd leading researchers into haptics at Disney's (DIS) labs in Pittsburg.

    Docomo's Android-based mobile has 270 sensors embedded into the body of the phone allowing its user to execute at least four useful operations just by squeezing the bezel. Gripping the side of the smart phone with all five fingers will unlock the screen from sleep mode, for example. While pinching the sides at the middle with two fingers is equivalent to pressing the 'back' button. "For the icons you can't press, you can grip instead," explains a demonstrator at the phone's first outing at a Tokyo trade show.

    Docomo doesn't know when the phone might go into production. But malleable gadgets, like this one, could have other useful applications. Being able to control any hand-held with a squeeze of the fingertips is just a start says Poupyrev who teamed up with a German designer Carsten Schwesig and Japanese designer Eijiro Mori, to build one of the world's first prototype flexible electronic devices for Sony (SNE) a decade ago. They were investigating the unique concept of a bendable credit-card-sized device nicknamed Gummi.

    To make a click you just grasped it with two hands and bent it. It became the model worldwide for potential flexible phones such as Nokia's (NOK) "Kinetic" prototype that debuted last year. The Nokia phone uses flexible organic light-emitting display (OLED) technology developed by Samsung -- a technology it says it will bring to market early 2013. The idea is exploit the flexibility inherent in these recently commercialized thin, organic screens.

    So far the most advanced flexible OLED screens are so thin, about the width of a human hair, and so flexible the color display can be rolled around a pencil while streaming video.

    Future applications might include combining bendable electronics as manufactured by British firm Plastic Logic or a flexing phone made from electronic paper created by Canadian researchers at the Human Media Lab at Queen's University dubbed paperphone. When bent or folded at its corners or sides the differing functions of a smartphone are brought to light say the researchers.

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