Nokia is famed for its gimmicky products (remember the N-Gage?) and it came up trumps again when it released its N95 device. The phone is the only one in the World to include a built-in ‘accelerometer’. Yet even if you have one of these handsets you’re probably still wondering what the heck one of these is. It may sound like an instrument you’d get on a flight deck or something, but the accelerometer is actually a gizmo that allows the device to detect motion in the phone. It works on much the same principle as the controllers for the Nintendo Wii.
Up to now, there haven’t been many apps that really take advantage of this revolutionary functionality and I was starting to wonder if this was just another doomed invention from those hare-brained boffins at Nokia. However, I’m pleased to see that some developers have started experimenting with the technology and there are now a few apps trickling out that take advantage of it.
Take, for instance, RotateMe, an application that automatically rotates the screen when you turn the phone, in a similar way to the iPhone. It’s configuration is rather crude, but once you’ve got you’re head around it it’s kinda cool. Another fun, yet utterly pointless, accelerometer app is LightSaber, which allows you to turn your phone into the Jedi wepon of choice so that as you wave it about the device will make realistic swooshing noises. It even replicates the sound of two light sabers crossing beams, as you can see from this vid (after the jump).
Nokia itself has developed a couple of apps that demonstrate what the accelerometer can do. The first is a simple but mesmerising game where a ball rolls around the screen as you tilt the N95 about. The second, the Nokia Activity Monitor helps you measure the amount of exercise you do in a day by recording the number of steps you take everywhere you walk. This kind of software is by the far the most practical use we’ve seen for the accelerometer so far, and if other developers can draw some inspiration from this then the N95 could well become the must-have phone of 2008.