...or were they patentable inventions before I typed them into slashdot on 2003-11-19?
1. Gravity sensors. The problem I used to have was that every time I took my phone from my pocket it came out upside down in my hand. Therefore I suggest a phone where this does not matter. A symmetrical phone body. No up or down, top or bottom. Give it a full size screen with touch sensors that can act as a keyboard or display. Also include a gravity direction sensor. Hence one should just be able to pick it up and use it normally, no matter how it is orientated.
Yes, I've thought of a few gotchas. You ideally need a microphone and speaker at each end of the phone, but can probably get away with one microphone in the center. You might be lying down and so the phone needs to be classically upside down to be useful given the present orientation of your head. In this case include a 'lock' button to hold the orientation. You may wish to disable orientation switching while the phone is connected. What you definetely want (for the kewl kids) is to show how the phone swaps its display around as you invert it.
2. Pushable ring-tones. The kids would love this. Enable the sending of a ring tone to the target phone when you call them. This can be a simple set of tones sent ahead useing very little data in the way a ring-tone can be 'SMSed' to your phone or in modern higher bandwidth networks a mp3 (or equivalent compressed music file such as ogg vorbis) file can be sent. For example if Alice calls Bob. She might prerecord a file of her voice saying "Hey Bob, pick up the phone, it's Alice".
Obviously this would need relatively fine grained permission settings to prevent embarassment. Kids would love this because they could send very bad language to other peoples phones and would find this very funny indeed. In other words it would sell well.
3. Location, time and velocity specific settings. Present generation mobile phones can track your location quite accurately. 3G networks can track your location very accurately. I propose a feature that lets you set the permissions of your phone (ring tone, silence mode, vibrate, divert calls etc) by location.
Examples would be:
a) at home: full permissions, ring tones and vibrations
b) at work: beep once, vibrations
c) inside the meeting room at work: divert to answer phone
d) after 11pm Sunday thru Thursday: divert to answer phone (location information will be this accurate with newer phone generations)
e) moving faster than 10mph within last 3 minutes: divert to answer phone as owner is driving his or her car.
4. A Balance feature for camera phones. Many phones have built in digital cameras now. These phones typically have to be held upright in the hand with the operator viewing the phone display before taking the picture. Some phones have rotating cameras that so that the operator can take pictures of themselves (either posing with friends or as part of a video call facility).
I propose a method of balancing these phones so that a bigger group shot can be taken after a timer delay, much in the way many regular cameras can operate. Wheras regular cameras often have a large flat base to easily allow placement on a suitable flat surface, mobile phones do not balance so easily. I propose two solutions to this problem. First, simple fold out legs can steady the phone. This can be done in many ways, just one example would use a device looking like a minature FM radio antenna than can be extended and rotated on a pivot to the correct angle to balance the phone handset. The second method would use the vibration motor or the phone, which is just an unbalanced rotating mass, or may use a separate, balanced rotating mass the design of which is optimised for this purpose of balancing the phone. The design requires the base of the phone fashioned such that it can fall in only two directions (ie not balanced on a point or rounded point) and correct alignment of the rotating mass. As sensors within the phone detect it falling one way or the other then the motor can be turned to induce angular momentum into the system in an opposite direction to that of the falling motion and thus rebalance the phone.
PL/I -- "the fatal disease" -- belongs more to the problem set than to the solution set. -- Edsger W. Dijkstra, SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 17, Number 5