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Hillcrest Labs brings a better motion engine to phones (hands-on)

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Hillcrest Labs' motion control technology is coming to smartphones and tablets.

Hillcrest Labs motion technology
Hillcrest Labs motion technology

Hillcrest Labs is all about motion control — the company's technology powers the PlayStation Move, the Angry Birds-playing Roku remote, and a handful of other devices that use your movements to control your gadgets. Now Hillcrest is bringing the same technology and expertise to smartphones and tablets, promising a vastly improved motion and gesture experience. The company's Freespace Mobile Engine takes data from a device's accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, and other sensors, synthesizes and optimizes that data and provides to developers an incredibly accurate system and API for determining where your device is in space. It's far more accurate than the standard APIs found in Android, reps said, and gives you both better control and a better experience. It also corrects for your hands' tremors, or slight compass problems caused by magnetic fields or other phones.

We saw rudimentary demos of the technology working on a smartphone and a tablet, and our minds immediately started spinning with the possibilities. The phone knew when we were holding it, or when we set it down on a table, or when it was in a stand; it would also change songs in the music player with a quick flick of the wrist. The tablet was even cooler, showing an augmented reality-like app that panned around a view of a mountain based on the device's movement, direction, and location. The picture stuttered and jumped, constantly self-correcting after slight errors, but when reps turned on Hillcrest's Fusion engine, the experience became incredibly smooth and realistic, as if we were moving a window around rather than panning around an image. From games to interface gestures to navigation, more accurate motion control can both improve your user experience and even open up some new ones.

Hillcrest reps said the company is currently working with one hardware manufacturer, and will be looking to work with many more in the near future. Details were unfortunately scarce, but we'll definitely be on the lookout.