We’ve come a long way since the days when all cell phones could do was make voice calls. The variety of sensors, in particular has really grown in the past few years. It used to be that the only sensor on a phone was a light sensor to help automatically adjust screen brightness. A couple of phones added accelerometers prior to the iPhone’s release. But, no one really took advantage of this sensor. You can see a demo of my old HTC Advantage (running Microsoft Windows Mobile) in the video embedded at the end of this blog. It had a 5-inch display (large by even today’s standards), a unique modular keyboard that attached magnetically, and and accelerometer which the Opera Mobile browser (and nothing else that I can recall) could use to scroll the screen simply by moving the Advantage around in space. Since then, we’ve seen the introduction of magnometers (to provide a digital compass), second microphones (for noise cancellation), and gyroscopes (for enhanced motion information). What’s next? Surprisingly, it is not something in a new Apple product. Motorola is putting a barometer (for atmospheric pressure) in its upcoming Xoom tablet (powered by Android OS 3.0).
I’m looking forward to seeing a service that crowd sources barometric pressure information from millions of people to provide better local weather information. Anyone want to join me in founding a crowd sourcing mobile sensor company with me? 🙂