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Writing on Air Is Not Pie in the Sky

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Duke University engineering students have developed the PhonePoint Pen, a program that uses the accelerometers in smart phones to enable users to write messages in the air using their phone and have those messages automatically sent to an email address.

Duke University student Sandip Agrawal says that users can simply hold the phone like a pen and write short messages or draw simple diagrams in the air. "The accelerometer converts the gestures to images, which can be sent to any email address for future reference," says Duke graduate student Ionut Constandache, who developed the program with Agrawal.

Eventually the technology will evolve and be able to handle larger, more complex air-writing, says Duke professor Romit Roy Choudhury, Agrawal's mentor. "We're trying to get past the whole idea of typing on a keyboard or using a stylus to enter information into devices," Choudhury says. "To be able to write quickly using only one hand would be very attractive to many people." Some challenges still remain, as writers currently have to pause briefly between letters, and each letter must be written large, but the engineers believe that improved algorithms and more sophisticated accelerometers could solve these problems.

A video demonstrating the use of the PhonePoint Pen is available at

From Duke University News & Communications
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