Future tech warning: Careful where you put your phone

Phone on Wood

Smartphones might be about to get even smarter – or more hateful, depending on your point of view – by being able to work out what sort of surface they’ve been put down on.

Utilising a phone’s camera, researchers at the University of St Andrews say that their SpeCam program will allow mobiles to recognise different materials, and act accordingly.

Apparently, the breakthrough will offer a range of practical applications, such as your phone being able to tell you where to come and find it if you’ve mislaid it (‘Dave, it’s me, I detect duvet’), and being triggered for certain actions when laid on certain surfaces, perhaps such as automatically contacting your insurers if it detects it’s sinking into a jug of gravy.

Researcher Hui Yeo said: ‘The goal is to explore novel forms of interaction for one-handed use which can leverage what people already do with devices, without adding new hardware to the device.’

Strangely, the developers also suggest that it could set your phone to play certain music when placed on certain surfaces, such as jazz when on a sofa or dance music if on a coffee table – which sounds like an excuse for yet another layer of laziness, so it’s bound to be a hit.

Here’s a video of a man putting his phone on various surfaces:

Future tech warning: Careful where you put your phone

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