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OS X Businesses Operating Systems Apple

Having Fun With PowerBook Motion Sensors 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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Having Fun With PowerBook Motion Sensors

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  • Sweet. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Protoclown ( 692316 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @10:59AM (#11833801)
    This is cool enough to make me want a PowerBook.
    • Re:Sweet. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      IBM ThinkPads have the same feature (and even the same sort of visualization utility).
    • 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..
  • Security? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caerwyn ( 38056 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:06AM (#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.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:09AM (#11833913) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • imac 2 (Score:2, Interesting)

    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 i
  • by fracai ( 796392 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:29AM (#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?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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.
  • by cassidyc ( 167044 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @11:53AM (#11834461)
    Just stick one on the ground and wait for earthquakes, who needs all that specialist equipment

    • Even better, take in into the field and measure orientations.
    • 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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vaystrem ( 761 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @12:00PM (#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.
    • 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 (Score:3, Informative)

        by Vaystrem ( 761 )
        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.
  • "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?!

  • by lpangelrob2 ( 721920 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @03:21PM (#11836763) Journal
    That Perturbed Desktop [] 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?"

  • i did not know my powerbook had that feature.

    what other 'environment monitoring' features does it have?
  • Whoa! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaycePollard ( 828051 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:19PM (#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 :)

    • 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...
  • by kris_lang ( 466170 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @06:19PM (#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 :)
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @07:38PM (#11839580) Journal
    You can build something like this for any laptop. The parts would be something like a USB module like this [] ($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 []) 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 [].
  • 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?
  • by DoctaBu ( 770499 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @09:56PM (#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! []
    • 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.
  • 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?

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:03AM (#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
  • Does anyone know how to turn this off? Because it's supposed to open my chute in about 3 seconds.
  • 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! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Blowfishie ( 677313 )
    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?"

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