Using Apple PowerBook’s motion sensor feature as an input device

An anonymous reader has posted on Slashdot:

“As covered earlier on Slashdot, Amit Singh had shown how to access and use the motion sensor feature in the late model PowerBooks for innovative things, which created quite a buzz in the Mac community. In an ingenius new article, Singh has taken the idea all the way and released software which lets you use a PowerBook with a motion sensor as a general purpose input device which works with existing apps… the coolest use of this is for playing games: be sure to check out the video footage in the article. For instance, in a car racing game, you steer by tilting the PowerBook left and right, go faster by tilting it forward, brake by tilting it backwards! You can also scroll in apps. Google Map scrolling with my PowerBook feels like flying in an aiprlane over the terrain. I must say you have to try this in real life to appreciate the experience.”

Full article and links here.


  1. I wonder how long until someone complains about how this software destroyed their HD. A 5400 RPM Spinning HD is not intended to be moved like its part of a steering wheel.

    MDN Word is WHEN; If the HD works now, don’t be suprised WHEN you have to replace it because you have been using your PB as a joystick.

  2. C’mon, Pablo, when did slightly tilting a hard drive make it crash. Everyone’s iPods would be toast by now if this were an issue. This just takes advantage of the sensitivity of the sensors.

  3. It’s never a wise idea to tilt a disk drive while it’s spinning. When spinning, the drive becomes a gyroscope and tilting the drive while spinning imparts stress on the bearings. Furthermore, the read/write heads literally “fly” (thanks to the Bernoulli effect) only a few microns above the disk surface. Sudden movements can disrupt the supporting air flow.

    The drives are designed to handle modest directional shifts, but that term is quite subjective. Although amusing, I personally wouldn’t wish to risk data loss through using the computer as a game controller. If it’s not a problem with others, then have a ball!

  4. Mac Daddy,

    whilst your argument is essentiall right, you are also sayign the when my iPod is playing i should not move around, as the harddrive is spinning. I think that the drive technology used today compensates for movements like this.

  5. A little game has been written already, based on Singh’s study. Check out Bubblygym on Versiontracker. I had an e-mail exchange with the developer abou it, and he said Woz wrote to tell him he though it was “pretty cool.”

  6. I want someone to create a theremin using this newfound method that you can record or just hear while you’re typing…
    A nice, soothing soundtrack for your morning commute…

  7. Pablo and Mac Daddy are correct to warn others.

    And the iPod comparison is bogus. The ibook drive platter/s are larger and therefore could be more susceptible to movement related failures then the iPod.

    The iPod also has large buffer in order to minimize the potential for physical failures.

    Besides, moving your laptop as a joystick sounds pretty lame to me.

  8. I want to know something about these acceleration sensors.
    Is this possible now or soon?

    Say I drop the powerbook and it hits the deck hard, there is no scratch left on the case, but the computer no longer works.
    You send it to Apple to be repaired under warranty.
    After an inspection and assessment of the fault, they tell you that its not covered because on this date and time the computer was dropped about 1.5m and registered and had a 5g impact, causing the damaged part.

    And don’t any of you smart ass people wearing calculator watches tell me the correct g force impact of a 15″ powerbook dropping from 1.5m.

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