Have you ever punched up a Google map on your laptop to get directions right before rushing out the door, and fumbled with the mechanics of getting it off your laptop screen and onto your smartphone? Tsung-Hsiang Chang feels your pain. He and Yang Li created an app called Deep Shot that uses your smartphone camera as a way of "migrating tasks across devices" -- or, as I like to think of it, teleporting your stuff from one screen to another. The demo video does a much better job of explaining it:
Instead of generating a copyable URL in Google Maps, cutting and pasting it into an email to yourself, then opening that email on your phone and tapping the link, you just point your phonecam at your laptop screen and shoot. Poof: the exact "state" of the webapp -- not just the pixels, but the interactive functions and information you were working with, too -- pops onto your smartphone screen, ready to go.
The exact "state" of the webapp pops onto your smartphone screen.
How does it work? If you really care about the gory details of Uniform Resource Identifiers and experimental computer vision algorithms, Ars Technica has you covered. I'm more interested in the potential use cases, as was Chang. His inspiration? "I used to have a smartphone but no 3G data plan, and I found I usually needed to redo what I've done
on my computer over again on the phone," he tells Co.Design. After dealing with the Google-Maps-while-rushing-out-the-door scenario one too many times, he figured there had to be a simpler way. Deep Shot does visually and intuitively, in one step, what usually takes several typing and mouse clicking actions across multiple applications.
Granted, tools like Chrome to Phone perform similar magic, offering one-step transfering of web URLs to a smartphone browser. But that won't necessarily identically capture what you were doing in a dynamic web app like Deep Shot does. And Deep Shot works in reverse too: You can use it to throw a smartphone web app state back onto a desktop screen, as long as both devices are running Deep Shot.
Right now Chang's app only works with a handful of utility web applications like Google Maps and Yelp. But that's quite a start, and since Google owns the IP behind Deep Shot (Chang and Li were working there when they developed it), hopefully we'll start seeing it around the web more and more.
[Top image by Yang Li]