Taking on the idea that daily smartphone use can create automatic touch recall, just like touch typing on a keyboard, students at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany, have created the "imaginary phone" concept that turns the palm of a hand into a smartphone touch interface. Using spatial memory built up while operating the physical device to remember gestures and the relative position of icons on the phone, users can perform simple smartphone tasks without even taking it out of your pocket.

The imaginary phone concept uses a depth-sensitive camera to detect hand gestures such as tapping and sliding, software to analyze the video, and a wireless radio to send the instructions back to the smartphone. Patrick Baudisch, professor of computer science at the Hasso Plattner Institute, and his colleagues believe that their concept could free users from physically retrieving a device to carry out the large number of "micro interactions" that users perform every day.

The imaginary phone "serves as a shortcut that frees users from the necessity to retrieve the actual physical device" says Baudisch. Unless the user is already wearing a Bluetooth headset, the concept probably won't be much use for answering calls - unless you like yelling at your pocket - but Baudisch says the concept would be more useful for sending calls to voicemail or turning off an alarm, for example.

During the research project, a depth camera was affixed to a mounted rack and proved to accurately sync gestures with a local iPhone. Whilst the setup is far from flashy, it serves the basic idea that once the technology has been mastered, micro cameras can be fixed into clothing materials, such as a shirt button, or reading glasses.

The "imaginary" technology is similar to what we've seen with Skinput and NEC's gesture control system, however it does eliminate the need for a projector and it doesn't rely on learning new hand gestures.

The system does, however, rely on users remembering the position of icons on the phone's display, so it will only be useful for commonly performed tasks - unless you've got a photographic memory. With that being said, it could definitely come in "handy" when you are driving or washing the dishes.

Watch the demo video below.

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