Tired of pushing all those buttons on your cell phone? Japanese handsets slated to hit stores next month are designed to solve that problem: They respond to shakes, tilts and jiggles.
The mobile phones manufactured by Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp. for Vodafone K.K., the Japan unit of the British mobile giant, come equipped with a tiny motion-control-sensor, a computer chip that recognizes and responds to movement.
Just jerk your cell phone in the air in a variety of patterns made of up of two simple moves -- combining left, right or top, down movements -- to program your phone in nine different ways to scroll or jump to e-mail or other features.
It takes a bit of practice. In a demonstration for reporters on Monday, I had repeated problems getting the phone to respond to my left and then right shake although it was supposed to jump to the game menu.
It's far easier just to endure the hassle of pushing buttons.
Fun for games
The sensor, made by Aichi Steel Corp., not only detects the direction toward which the cell phone is moving but also the speed and force with which it's being jerked around.
This makes for new kinds of gaming fun.
In "The House of the Dead," the mobile version of the Sega Corp. game, players can actually aim their cell phone in various directions like a gun to shoot the zombies who appear to be coming from all sides in the display.
Another is a golfing game from Taito Corp. Users swing the handset like a golf club, making a virtual ball pop around on a virtual course.
Vodafone is not giving a price or sales target for the handset, which will be sold only in Japan for now. It said it's working on other kinds of games for the Japanese handset using movement but did not give details.
You can also make the sensor work to move your cursor by tilting the phone toward the direction you want the cursor to go. At least that was easy.
The phone also doubles as an electronic musical instrument. First select your favorite sound from a menu that includes clapping, tambourine, maracas, a whistle blow, yelps and other noises.
Start shaking. The sounds play in time to your moves. Vodafone is recommending that feature for karaoke and parties.