15.42, Friday 4 Mar 2005

Apple's PowerBook laptops now have a little accelerometer inside that's used to protect the hard drive if you drop it (it notices the sudden speed increase and parks the drive heads). This guy has found a way to tap into the sudden motion sensor, and Timo was just round my house with his brand new PowerBook, so we spent a few minutes of looking at the stuff on that site (a window that rotates so it's always the right way up). Then we saw there was a little tool that gives you the angle of the machine in three dimensions. Aha. (I love accelerometers.)

After a few more minutes, we had the tilt sensor controlling Timo's music. You rock the machine backwards for the next track, and rock it forwards for the previous track. Then we realised that you rarely need "previous"--you just listen to music, and when a track comes on you don't want to hear, you jog your laptop and it bumps on to the next song (and you don't need to be in iTunes). Wicked. Tasty microembodiment.

Here's the script: bumptunes.py. Download amstracker, put both files in the same directory, go to that directory in the Terminal and type:

./amstracker -u 0.1 -s | python bumptunes.py

That amstracker tool is absolutely fantastic, I can think of a thousand things I want to do with it: Bumps that are application-specific, that take into account context, length of bump, slower tilts. You could extract some very nuanced input, and do some very detailed things with the computer. Drawing, rapid-fire email filing (tilt right to delete, left to keep, like you're driving through time through your mail inbox).

But Timo's gone home and I'm using my older PowerBook sans bumptunes. I feel kind of indignant, like my laptop is wilfully ignoring me. It seems inert, a lump of metal deliberately cutting itself off from the rest of the universe. A deaf, dead machine.

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