sensors

Did you miss this morning’s deal on the Fitbit Flex? That’s a shame as Fitbit sets the standard for pedometer devices, but there’s a great alternative now on the Windows Phone Store: Nokia Motion Monitor (beta).

Teased at Abu Dhabi, Nokia Motion Monitor is exactly what it sounds like. Similar to the recent Samsung Galaxy phones, this app uses the internal sensors to detect your walking patterns. It then tallies up your steps in the app, optionally on your lockscreen (seen above) and it then adds some visually appealing graphs to show the amount. There are also ‘events’ that signify the commencing of intense activity, all logged for you. You can also go back to other days to see your steps taken.

The app is super simple to use with no setup required. There is a brief tutorial to explain how it all works and what the information means, but for the most part it’s a set-it-and-forget-it app.

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There's really not much to the Windows Phone 8 app Accelerometer Toy but still, it does a nice job of things. It's a utility app of sorts that simply demonstrates your Windows Phone accelerometer in action.

Accelerometer Toy does so in two ways. First you have the Readings Page that displays the X, Y, and Z axes and the associated readings that illustrates the Windows Phone's current orientation. The axis readings spin about like a Tasmanian Devil but there is a stop button in the lower right corner should you need to stop things should you need to get an easy to read value.

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New sensor technology could put a larger cameras into smaller packages

Nokia may have the best smartphone camera system around with its 41 megapixel Pureview camera. We are all hoping to see similar Pureview technology (but on a smaller scale) with the Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 devices. While the Pureview cameras have turned heads, what Nokia has up it's sleeve should take the Nokia cameras to a new level and eliminate that pesky hump in the process.

Nokia has filed a patent application for the sensing of photons utilizing graphene technology. Graphene is a two-dimensional material made of a single atomic layer of carbon layers. It allows photo sensors to be smaller than the current crop of CMOS sensor and capture light photons across a broad spectrum of frequencies of visible light. Combined with the transparency of the graphene layers, this should make the graphene sensors better low-light performers than what we have today.

In a nutshell, we are looking at potentially a smaller, thinner, better low-light performing photo sensor that may give us the 41 megapixel Pureview camera without the hump.

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We had a chance to sit down and chat with Thom Brenner, Vice President of Location and Commerce for Nokia and Pino Bonetti who writes about location on the Nokia Conversations blog. We wanted to hear what Nokia are planning for the future with its location services, which the company has touted as its main focus and differentiator for Windows Phone.

Being number one in location and mapping is not anything new to Nokia as they have been at this game for many years, ever since they purchased NAVTEQ back in 2007 for a reported $8.1B. Their services power products from Microsoft, Yahoo, Flickr and four out of five cars on the road today use Nokia mapping technology. Nokia have announced their intention to be the “where” company, making location services the very heart of what they do.

Mapping and location are set to get a big boost from this drive, as Windows Phone users we will be pole position to see some of those fantastic innovations.

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MS_Nerd noticed an interesting note on the hardware specifications page for Windows Phone that simply reads

"Additional sensors, such as proximity and light, are on the phone but are not available for developer interaction yet."

Of course the key word there is "yet" which certainly implies that Microsoft will be further opening up dev tools to more advanced features on the phone. Such access will of course allow some more interactive software and hopefully spur developer creativity, resulting in light-sensitive apps or ones that use the proximity sensor as a trigger for an alarm, etc. Perhaps we shouldn't see this too much as a surprise. Microsoft built smart developer APIs for the other sensors, so it is just a matter of time before they expand it other areas. Seems obvious.

Also of interesting note is although Windows Phone OEMs could drop the camera, MS_Nerd in our opinion correctly suggests that this was more for government and enterprise reasons than consumer. It's very standard that a requirement for government issued phones or for those working in certain areas of enterprise don't have cameras on their devices to prevent espionage. BlackBerry, Treos of yore and even Windows Mobile devices commonly had variants where the camera was removed from the device and there's no reason to believe that Microsoft wouldn't want to have their phones in this specialized area as well.

Source: MSDN; MS_Nerd

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We recently covered Microsoft's incredibly entertaining Touch Studio for Windows Phone 7, which allows one to create scripts that take advantage of the API's and access available on the OS and hardware. The app has now been updated to 1.1 (beta). The changes are listed below:

  • Many bug fixes
  • Better auto-completion in expression editor
  • Access to accelerometer, location, maps, translation services, web search, tile customization, charting, and more.
  • Take screenshots of your actions (if you want to show other people your code), and the execution wall; look for the "send screenshot to library" button under the “…” in the application bar.
  • API changes (see below). If you update an existing installation, all your existing scripts get renamed to "v1.0 ...". Since we changed APIs, your old scripts might have errors which you have to edit and fix yourself.

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