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I’ve been trying to keep a dossier of various orientation technologies and techniques. I think orientation is a candidate interface sytax that is only roughly understood and I plan on conducting some studies in the “field experiment” approach to understand how it might be used in a mobile design.

But, I’m also intrigued that these devices might make it possible to build my own pedometer. Sometimes you don’t need to know precisely where you are, only how far you’ve gotten. Or, even more interesting, using walking/running motion as part of the interface syntax.

A few days ago, Peter and I showed a new Vis-a-Vis game concept to some CS students in an interface design class. The tricky interface syntax is set up so that you have to sort of swing the device left and right and back in order to move your character in the game. It has some problems..errr..opportunities. One student tried to jump, literally, to get the character to move and I had an “ah hah!” moment.

GPS is crap for detecting pedestrian scale motion reliably. It’s got a lag, in the small-scale experiment I ran, that makes it not quite ready for prime time interactivity. But, simple step-step-step interaction should happen lickity-split. We have a pedometer in the house that came out of Liz Goodman, Brooke Foucault, and Sunny Consalvo’s workshop at Ubicomp 2005. It’s just a little plastic retail unit that is spot-on, at least for power walks around Venice. Stands to reason it should work well for walking across a field or something for a different sort of entertainment scenario.