Knock-Based Commands Like Heinlein's

In his 1980 novel The Number of the Beast, Robert Heinlein has Dejah Thoris Burroughs ("Deety") program their interdimensional sports car spaceship with a special doorlock. The ship's computer opens the lock when the cadence for a song is rapped onto the hull.

Seems like some Linux programmers have the same idea.

IBM released 2003 ThinkPad laptop computers with integrated accelerometers and associated hardware; this was done to tell if the unit has been dropped. A state of free fall indicates that the hard drive heads should be parked to protect the surface of the platters.

It turns out that the hardware and software can also be used to "knock some sense" - or at least some commands - into your laptop, just like Heinlein imagined.

The accelerometer data is read by the machine and then reinterpreted by new Linux code to detect specific sequences of knocks. These knock codes can then be used in ordinary use; for example, two quick knocks might mean "lock the screen" and "shave and a haircut" means unlock.

Or, if you were a Heinlein fan, you might use the cadence from "Bumboat" to lock and "Pay Day" to activate your laptop.

Thanks to Vik for pointing this story out; find knock-code code.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/30/2006)

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