What is Magneto?
Magneto is the technology of fully utilizing the magnetometer built in all iPhones and using these sensors in a creative way to clearly indicate the location of magnets relative to your phone on your iPhone screen in real time.
What it does
With Magneto, many applications can be built upon this technology. In our demo, we built two examples using the Magneto technology. A virtual keyboard and a Virtual Game Controller.
Virtual Keyboard: What this application does is it takes a piece of paper and makes it into a fully functional keyboard just by pointing at the characters on it. It will type the desired text on the "keyboard" if the magnet is held on top of the specific key for over 2.5 seconds and the timer resets every time we hover over a different key.
Virtual Game Controller: We took one of the most basic iPhone games, pong, and made it more interactive and engaging than any other pong games out there. Instead of dragging your bar around your iPhone screen, why not interact with it physically? Who knows, maybe in the future we'd be controlling our bar with our entire body!
How we built it
Using the CoreMotion apple framework, we are able to tap into the data collected by several under utilized sensors. In our case the magnetometer. The magnetometer allows us to capture the magnetic fields around the vicinity of our device and can pick up the magnetic fields transmitted by magnets. With this data, we can map the strengths of the magnetic field onto our phone screens by transforming our data from magnetic field strengths into pixels on our device's screen.
Challenges we ran into
One of the biggest challenges we ran into was coming up with an algorithm to map magnetic field strengths onto the phone screen relatively. The magnetometer is also located only in one spot of the device and can cause inconsistent data occasionally.
What's next for Magneto
Our technology seems primitive for now, but we believe as iPhone continues to develop and improve (especially the magnetometer) so will our technology. Image one day, you may have wearables that transmit strong magnetic field and imagine how your entire body can now interact and be displayed on your mobile device.