Invisible iPhone Lets You Control Apps Without Looking

For iPhone users who love the convenience of an app-filled phone but hate the fiddly nature of a touchscreen (we’re sure there are some out there), researchers at the Hasso Plattner Institute at Potsdam University in Germany have a screen-free solution in mind. Their creation has been tentatively dubbed “iPalm,” and it consists of a depth camera that detects your finger pressing into the opposite palm, much in the way you would control your iPhone.

The camera is currently mounted on a bulky piece of headgear, but the team predicts that future iterations will be small enough to rest on a user’s shirt. There are other improvements that need to be made, as well – namely, the user needs to memorize the locations of their apps on their iPhone screen and press an approximate location on the palm from memory. Additionally, the phone would need to be near the user in order for the iPalm to be of much use.

It is easy to miss the point of such an invention since it seems like it wouldn’t be very useful without a display. The team points out that the palm interface could be used to decline calls or set alarms, neither of which would require seeing the screen as long as the user can remember the locations of the appropriate apps and manage to control them without seeing them.

The technology being explored in this project could be used in the future for remote controls, which seems to make much more sense than using it for an iPhone. Still, no amount of tweaking will stop you looking rather ridiculous while you press a finger into your palm repeatedly.

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See more in Phones & Mobile or under Gadgets. May, 2011.