Microsoft Research creates sword fighting for smartphones

Settle disputes with handsets at dawn

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Microsoft Research has created a "hardware localisation technology" that lets users sword fight using their smartphones.

The Microsoft Research team is calling its new tech "FAR", and has used a game called SwordFight to showcase its potential. Reminiscent of Die Gut Fabrik's Johann Sebastian Joust for PlayStation Move, players have to launch a physical attack on their opponent's position.

While Joust is based on sensing movement, SwordFight is based mainly on proximity. One phone emits a fast stream of chirps, which the other phone listens out for with its microphone. The system then uses the time it takes the chirp to travel between phones to calculate how close they are.

Tiny little virtual swords

The aim is to virtually skewer the opponent's smartphone by thrusting at it. A successful thrust ends with the phones within 15 centimetres of each other, and the attacker is identified using accelerometers to see who did the jabbing. Testing has shown that it can be accurate to within just two centimetres.

The most appealing part of this new tech from a development perspective is that it uses capabilities all smartphones have – a microphone, a speaker and an accelerometer. This means that it could be used across brands and operating systems.

Don't rush out and buy a belt-mounted phone holster just yet though, because Microsoft has no plans for a public release the SwordFight game or the FAR technology that drives it. Best postpone that noon duel you have pencilled in with the guy from the fifth floor, then.

From Wired