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Chip Changes Phone Behavior Based on Your Movements

Your phone can learn a lot about your surroundings, even if you don't have a GPS or Wi-Fi signal. Announced at last week's Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Audience Inc.'s NUE N100 motion and voice-sensing chip can change your phone's behavior based on data from its accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope. At the company's booth, we got a chance to see just a few of the benefits of the chip's MotionQ technology and how it can change your calling experience based on where you put your handset.

When I put a MotionQ-enabled phone down on a table and had someone call it, the phone rang but did not vibrate. However, when I picked it up, the device immediately stopped ringing and started buzzing because it knows that it's in a hand now, and that there's no need to make noise.

After answering the call, I put the handset down on the table again and it automatically switched to speakerphone mode, because it knows that it is on a flat surface and users would want the speaker on in that situation. However, when I picked the phone up again, it switched back to normal talk mode.

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Audience told us that MotionQ sensors can also detect whether the phone is in your pocket in order to disable pocket dialing. It can also tell what type of transportation you are using -- car, train or plane -- and adjust your apps and settings accordingly.

We ran another demo designed to show MotionQ's ability to help save power. When I put the phone down on the table with no apps running on it, it went to sleep in a mere 3 seconds rather than the 30 seconds it would take to timeout from simple inactivity. By saving those 27 seconds, the phone saves a lot of battery life. As a convenience, the phone also woke up from sleep as soon as I picked it back up.

Audience's MotionQ technology will be paired with its existing VoiceQ always-listening audio technology on the NUE N100 chip. First introduced last year, VoiceQ keeps your phone's microphones on a low-power state, but wakes the device and launches software after hearing a magic phrase (ex: "Ok, Google"). While many devices have the ability to detect an activation phrase, Audience's solution saves energy by only going into full power mode once it hears the correct words.

The company will also make MotionQ available to phone manufacturers as software, but says that the chip version uses considerably less power because it doesn't tax the CPU. Either way, you may be seeing this technology in your next phone, tablet or appliance. The company expects devices available for sampling in mid-2015.