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Vibrating Phones Can Add Emphasis to Calls

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Vibrating rubber cellphones could be the next big thing in mobile communications, allowing people to communicate by squishing the phone to transmit vibrations along with their spoken words. According to a research team at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the idea will make phoning more fun.

Many mobile phones can already be made to vibrate instead of ring when you do not want people to know you are getting a call. But these vibrations, caused by a motor spinning an eccentric weight inside the device, are too crude for subtle communication, says Angela Chang of the lab’s Tangible Media Group. “They’re either on or off,” she says.

But when you grip Chang’s prototype latex cellphone, your fingers and thumb wrap around five tiny speakers which vibrate against your skin around 250 times per second. Beneath these speakers sit pressure sensors, so you can transmit vibration as well as receiving it.

When you squeeze with a finger, a vibration signal is transmitted to your caller’s corresponding finger, its strength dependent on how hard you squeeze.

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