A swipe of the hand could soon answer your phone

Smartphone users might soon be able to answer a call with a simple sweep of the hand, new research shows.

A research project undertaken by the University of Washington has investigated a way to enable in-air gestures, both above and around a mobile phone, to control your phone.

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Dubbed SideSwipe, the system works by using GSM signals to detect hand gestures.

It would make it possible to answer a call or scroll through a music play list with the wave of a hand.

“When the user moves their hand around the mobile phone, their skin, muscle, and bones affect the character of the propagation path by absorbing or reflecting part of the signal,” the report says.

“The user can easily switch between map, music, and messaging app with simple left and right swipe gestures without having to touch a specific location of the phone ever.”

Researchers investigated signal interference on phones that use the wireless standard GSM because it’s common around the world.

To detect gestures in the lab, researchers connected a Samsung Nexus S smartphone to four receiving antennas with the ability to measure changes to GSM signals resulting from gestures made in various directions when calls were made.

The prototype was evaluated by asking 10 people to use 14 gestures each, including sliding to the right and hovering to the left.

During data collection, participants were required to perform each gesture 13 to 15 times, or 1746 in total.

All gestures were performed at a distance of 30 centimetres from the handset and on average were accurately detected 87 per cent of the time.

Researchers suggest the SideSwipe system could become part of smartphones in the future if companies become interested.

A paper on the project will be presented in October in Hawaii at the annual ACM User Interface Software Technology Symposium.

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