Having Some Fun With Apple’s Sudden Motion Sensor (SMS)

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“All MacBook and MacBook Pro computers, PowerBook G4 computers starting with PowerBook G4 (12-inch 1.5GHz), PowerBook G4 (15-inch 1.67/1.5GHz), and PowerBook G4 (17-inch 1.67GHz) and iBook computers starting with iBook G4 (Mid 2005) have Sudden Motion Sensor technology, built-in protection for the hard disk that is designed to help prevent disk failures if the computer is dropped or undergoes severe vibration”.

That’s Apple’s official representation on its geneology of its introduction of the much spoken of but seldom understood Sudden Motion Sensor (SMS) technology. For ease of reference, for iBook G4’s, SMS was introduced in its 1.33GHz model launch.

To clear the air. SMS is not a hard drive technology in itself, so running out and buying a particular hard drive model will not ensure implementation of the technology. SMS is actually an amalgamation of hardware and software developed by Apple. SMS software integrated into Mac OS X works in tandem with SMS hardware that is hard soldered into the logicboards of the models mentioned above.

Other than just protecting your hard drive and data from harm, the SMS can be a source of entertainment and to some extent, interface improvements to your SMS equipped Mac system. Here’s a compilation of some of the more popular applications that have been designed to exploit the SMS:

  • SeisMac : is a Mac OS X application that makes your SMS enabled Mac into a seismograph. It accesses your Mac’s SMS in order to display real-time, three-axis acceleration graphs.
  • MacSaber : uses your Mac’s SMS to detect movements, fast and slow and creates light saber sound effects. Effectively turning your Mac into a Star Wars style light saber.
  • Carpenter’s Level : Carpenter’s Level is a dashboad widget that will turn your Mac into a Carpenter’s level tool. When you tilt the notebook left or right the bubble will move from left/right. Useful to find out if your desk is level or not.
  • AMSVisualizer : a 3D visualization of the Sudden Motion Sensor that displays an image of a Mac portable relative to the detected motion on your Mac.
  • SMSRotateD : the Sudden Motion Sensor as a screen rotation trigger for automatic screen orientation based on a notebook’s physical orientation (portrait or landscape).
  • MultiAlarm : Movement Alarm designed for all Apple laptops with sensor
  • Bubblegym : a game that reacts to how the machine is tilted. The gameplay is simple but challenging, control the balls by leaning the computer and get to the clouds before they disappear.
  • BumpAlarm : BumpAlarm is a program that uses the motion sensors in Apple’s new Powerbooks to trigger various actions when motion is detected. It can be set it to automatically play a sound file, send an email alert, or run an applescript.

The list goes on but the uber SMS application floating around the Internet, is this one:

If you find slapping your Mac a heart stopping act, there’s now a gentler solution from Medallia. Enter ShadowBook, which allows you to commit the same Slapbook-like desktop transitions by a simple wave of your hand (requires ambient light sensor equipped Mac)!

…one more thing. If you like car alarm like features on your SMS enabled Mac, check out the up and coming iAlertU at slappingturtle.com (requires IR equipped Mac working with Front Row remote).

Have fun with SMS!

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