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What You Capture Is What You Get: A New Way for Task Migration Across Devices

July 12, 2011

Posted by Yang Li, Research Scientist

We constantly move from one device to another while carrying out everyday tasks. For example, we might find an interesting article on a desktop computer at work, then bring the article with us on a mobile phone during the commute and keep reading it on a laptop or a TV when we get home. Cloud computing and web applications have made it possible to access the same data and applications on different devices and platforms. However, there are not many ways to easily move tasks across devices that are as intuitive as drag-and-drop in a graphical user interface.

Since last year, our research team started developing new technologies for users to easily migrate their tasks across devices. In a project named Deep Shot, we demonstrated how a user can easily move web pages and applications, such as Google Maps directions, between a laptop and an Android phone by using the phone camera. With Deep Shot, a user can simply take a picture of their monitor with a phone camera, and the captured content automatically shows up and becomes instantly interactive on the mobile phone.

This project was inspired by our observations that many people tend to take a picture of map directions on the monitor using their mobile phone camera, rather than using other approaches such as email. Taking pictures feels more direct and convenient, and fits well our everyday activity that is often more opportunistic. Instead of just capturing raw pixels, Deep Shot recovers the actual contents and applications on the mobile phone based on these pixels. You can find out how Deep Shot keeps user interaction simple and what happens behind the scenes here. Similar to WYSIWYG—What You See Is What You Get—for graphical user interfaces, Deep Shot demonstrates WYCIWYG—What You Capture Is What You Get—for cross-device interaction. We are exploring this interaction style for various task migration situations in our everyday life.

Deep Shot remains a research project at Google. With increasing capabilities of mobile phones and fast growing web applications, we hope to explore more exciting ways to help users carry out their everyday activities.