Ever since I covered the Pantech Vega LTE and its use of the front facing camera for touchless gestures, I have been waiting for the feature to come to other Android devices. Although there hasn’t been much progress with using the camera for gestures (despite a Google patent suggesting the feature), I did manage to find an application that does something similar using a different sensor, one found on nearly every device. Instead of the front facing camera, the application Smart Screen On uses the proximity sensor (the one that turns off the display when you put the phone to your face) to do exactly what the name suggests.
The application is designed for the Galaxy Nexus, so although it might work with other devices, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t. Fortunately, I have a Galaxy Nexus, and I decided to install the free version of Smart Screen On and give the application a try. In the video above, you can see a quick demonstration of how the application works. It is admittedly quite simple, and you can either wave your hand over the sensor to turn the display on, or wave your hand to turn the display off. There are, however, quite a few different settings that you can use to ensure that you only unlock the display when you mean to. In the free version, this is limited to changing the number of waves before the display unlocks, but with the full version you can use a combination of taps and waves to make a code of sorts.
As far as functionality, Smart Screen On seems to do quite a good job turning off the display when it is on, but not such a good job turning on the display when it is off. This may have something to do with the device’s sleep mode or power savings or the fact that turning the display on is a newer feature in the app than turning it off, but turning the display on seems much more inconsistent than turning it off. That’s not to say that turning the display off always works, because sometimes it takes quite a few tries to get the desired result. In fact, when making the demonstration video, I wasn’t able to turn the display off until I accidentally did so while trying to press the home button. So, while Smart Screen On makes for a very cool demonstration, it certainly isn’t perfect and hasn’t worked very reliably, at least on my Galaxy Nexus.
That doesn’t mean that Smart Screen On isn’t still a very cool idea, or a project that could get better in the future; it just means that the application doesn’t work quite right just yet. Still, the concept is very good, and could potentially have even more uses, especially since the proximity sensor uses so little battery compared to a front facing camera. To try this very cool app for yourself, just scan the QR code below or follow the Google Play link for the free version, but be sure to upgrade to the paid version if you like the app.
Download: Google Play