Device Orientation Based Context Detection On Smartphones

In order to make applications easy to use, smartphone manufacturers offer a variety of shortcuts. Additionally, these devices also come with reconfigurable buttons so that the same button may be used for different purposes depending on the application that is open and context.

Palm Inc. wants to take it a step further by including the device orientation and GPS functionalities to determine the context. For instance, while on a camera app, pointing the device vertically (perpendicular to the earth surface) in portrait or landscape mode may let you capture a photo. However, taking the device’s orientation parallel to the earth surface may open the album.

This is among the several embodiments that Palm wants to incorporate with its new patent impending technology. Here are some examples quoted from the patent application

In an Amusement Park

“when a user enters a park (e.g. an amusement park), a server automatically downloads a file to the smartphone. When the smartphone is laid flat and a dedicated button is pressed, a map of the park is displayed. When the smartphone is pointed at an attraction (e.g. a ride, a trail, etc.) and a user input is received, information relating to that attraction (age and height restrictions, wait time, trail length and conditions, etc.) and/or other media relating to that attraction (music, an instructional video, etc.) are provided.”

Pointing at Building For Information (Uses GPS and Orientation)

“A user may point the smartphone at a restaurant to obtain information relating to the restaurant and/or other restaurants in the area. The information may include menu selections, nutritional information, hours of operation, links for making reservations, and/or other information related to the restaurant. This same example may be applied to other types of businesses and/or other buildings as well (e.g. to identify the businesses and their location in a particular building).”

Remote Control for TV

“A user first programs the smartphone to control the TV (e.g. may be a series of on-screen prompts, may be through selection of codes associated with the TV that are tested until a change is detected, may be by pairing the phone with the TV–e.g. through a Bluetooth connection, and/or may be through some other method). The user also programs the smartphone to provide quick access to the remote control functions of the smartphone when the smartphone is pointed at the TV while the smartphone is in the same room as the TV. In operation, when the smartphone is pointed at the TV, the smartphone is configured to send a signal to the TV to control the TV (e.g. using IR commands for TVs with IR receivers and using RF commands for TVs with RF receivers).”

Orientation Based context input