Mozilla Seabird agitates for better mobile phones

The Seabird project is a concept for a phone with a dramatically overhauled user interface for a more productive device. Too bad it's just an idea.

The phone would create a virtual keyboard and trackpad for better typing.
The phone would create a virtual keyboard and trackpad for better typing. Mozilla

Mozilla doesn't plan to build a mobile phone, but it's hoping a new labs project called the Seabird unveiled yesterday will spur others to improving the ever more important devices.

"While mobile CPUs, connectivity and development platforms begin approaching that of desktops, the lagging ability to efficiently input information has grown ever more pronounced," said Billy May, the project leader who produced a a virtual tour of the virtual phone. "The Seabird, then, introduces a few possibilities into how user interaction might evolve with the advancing motion capture and projector driven innovation in the market."

One idea is pico projectors on the left and right sides of the phone that display a keyboard onto a flat surface; infrared sensing technology would tell where people's fingers were typing and would also power a virtual trackpad in front of the phone.

Another element is a removable device on the back of the phone that functions both as a Bluetooth headset and an infrared remote to pan and zoom around 2D images or 3D spaces. The phone could also be placed horizontally to project a virtual keyboard on one side and a large screen on the other.

Of course, there's a huge gap between having a clever idea for a super-cool phone and actually implementing it. Even with powerful companies such as Apple, Google, Nokia, Samsung, Microsoft, and Motorola working on new mobile phones as fast as they can in an extremely competitive environment, it's hard to balance new features with constraints on battery life, phone size, and materials and manufacturing cost.

But Mozilla Seabird project is still great food for thought.

In another mode, the Seabird phone would display a larger screen as well as a virtual keyboard.
In another mode, the Seabird phone would display a larger screen as well as a virtual keyboard. Mozilla

 

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