A simple whack can silence ringing phone

Installation of the new system, created by a team led by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, to any cellphone containing an accelerometer, would make it possible to cut a call by whacking the phone in a particular pattern while it’s still in the pocket.

Accelerometer is an increasingly common component that can detect every bump and shake inflicted on the phone.

The scientists developed a simple vocabulary of “whack gestures” designed to rapidly communicate simple commands such as silencing the phone. To help the device distinguish the gestures from background bumps, each begins and ends with a firm “whack”, journal “New Scientist” reported.

Framing each gesture with a whack seems to work, as during the study 11 volunteers were asked to carry a phone-sized accelerometer-equipped device in their pockets for two hours and the device correctly identified all whack gestures they were asked to perform, except one.

“Unsurprisingly, tap-like events happen all the time when phones are in pockets. So we had thought about what types of motions were unique, and how to assemble them into a workable gesture set,” said author Chris Harrison.

This builds on research carried by cellphone maker Nokia in 2007, in which users could interact with devices by tapping on them to control volume of music playback.

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