Future phones will ID devices by their electromagnetic fields

Richard Lai for enGadget:  While NFC has become a standard feature on Android phones these days, it is only as convenient as it is available on the other end, not to mention the awkwardness of aligning the antennas as well. As such, Carnegie Mellon University's Future Interfaces Group is proposing a working concept that's practically the next evolution of NFC: electromagnetic emissions sensing. You see, as Disney Research already pointed out last year, each piece of electrical device has its own unique electromagnetic field, so this characteristic alone can be used as an ID so long as the device isn't truly powered off. With a little hardware and software magic, the team has come up with a prototype smartphone -- a modified Moto G from 2013 -- fitted with electromagnetic-sensing capability, so that it can recognize anyelectronic device by simply tapping on one.

With the help of machine learning to classify device types, this phone was able to accurately toggle the corresponding apps or charms by merely tapping on almost anywhere on a variety of connected devices: Phillips Hue LED bulb, fridge, TV, thermostat, router, smart door lock, projector and more. Even "dumb" devices such as a coffee machine can be recognized, it's just that the phone obviously wouldn't be able to control them, but one could implement other types of interaction (maybe launch a coffee capsule catalog upon tapping?).  Full Article:

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