Nov. 9, 2012 at 7:08 PM ET
Tired of your phone's tiny on-screen keyboard, but don't want to carry around an accessory to type on? This experimental app by a Swiss student lets you type using nothing but the surface of a table.
The app doesn't use motion-tracking or a laser like other tabletop keyboard devices; Instead, it uses the iPhone's accelerometer to "listen" to the vibrations produced by taps on the table, and turns those into letters. And no, you don't have to tap in Morse code.
You "train" the app by using a sheet of paper with a QWERTY keyboard layout printed on it. Tap a few times on the G when it asks you to, and it knows what G sounds like. Do the same for S, and now it knows S.
You can do all 26 letters that way or just a few and let it fill in the gaps. But even after all that work, the accuracy isn't too good: the app gets around 80 percent of taps correct. Florian Kraeutli, the creator of the app, tells the Telegraph:
The signals I'm collecting are very weak. At the moment it's more of a proof of concept but if you made the accelerometer more sensitive you could improve the accuracy quite easily.
The app isn't available for download, and even if it were, it would only work on jailbroken iPhones at the moment. But the idea is sound, so to speak, and it could also easily be ported to other devices.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.