An imaginary phone in the palm of your hand

Researchers at Potsdam University in Germany have developed an "imaginary phone" that uses depth cameras to detect where you are pressing on your palm.

Researchers at Potsdam University in Germany have developed an "imaginary phone" that uses depth cameras to detect where you are pressing on your palm, reports New Scientist.

The technology used is similar to that in Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing gaming system. The signal is sent to a computer that processes it and then sends the relevant command to your mobile phone.

Why you'd want to manage calls on your palm rather than your actual phone is essentially a question of convenience (e.g., your phone is out of reach or misplaced). To work effectively, however, you'd need to know precisely where the specific buttons and apps are on the physical phone. The researchers found 68% of iPhone users can locate the majority of their home screen apps on their hand.

The depth camera used in their tests was a clunky head mounted device, but they ultimately envision the camera becoming embeddable into the button of a shirt, a brooch, or a pendant, for instance.

"We envision that users will initially use imaginary phones as a shortcut to operate the physical phones in their pockets. As users get more experienced, it might even become possible to leave the device at home and spend the day ‘all-imaginary'," Prof. Dr. Patrick Baudisch told New Scientist.

Baudisch and his research partner, PhD student Sean Gustafson, are now working on replacing a TV remote control with an imaginary zapper.

Related: 'Skinput' turns the body into an input surface