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March 23, 2009

Nokia Magnifier update and the question of digitizing traditional household tools

GLOBAL – This morning the team over at Nokia Beta Labs released a new version of the Nokia Magnifier app. A sharper, smoother-running update, this latest beta release of Nokia Magnifier better exploits the auto-focus camera feature on many S60 devices such as the N96, N95, N95 8GB, N82, N73, E90, E71, E66, to enable you to easily enlarge hard-copy small print.

Harnessing the often underplayed features of a device is crucial for driving innovation – an ethos that has been wonderfully embraced by many mobile innovators over the past year. So with traditional household tools such as the magnifying glass and spirit level (click to see it working on N95) becoming available on devices, how far can this go?

Okay, so you can’t digitize a screwdriver, weighing scales or a rolling pin… or could you, with say the Morph concept in mind? Perhaps that is stretching things too far. Maybe you disagree. So, how far can or should this breed of digitized traditional tool be taken. Is there a point where what’s practical and useful steps into the realm of the ridiculous?

Read on for more and to watch videos of Nokia Magnifier and the spirit level on N95. Plus, get stuck in and leave your opinions.

From where I’m sitting the Nokia Magnifier makes a lot of sense – it’s not at all intrusive or gimmicky, and delivers and offers a benefit to the simple real-world challenge of reading very fine print. Little more (apart from the ability to capture images whilst magnifying) and no less. But this is a relatively tame example, despite its innovative nature. As is the spirit level (scroll down to see it in action).

Many apps, such as Nokia Sports Tracker (there’s a new update), harness existing phone features in arguably a more aggressive way, such as GPS to track our performance and help us to train better and share info. I feel we’re only beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to exploiting the existing talents of our devices, which makes this and the upcoming third-party app avalanche that’s destined to coincide with the launch of the Ovi Store in May, one of the most exciting moments for helping accelerate mobile innovation. This, in turn, will inevitably lead to more digitized traditional household tools (and could lead to less cluttered drawers and utility cupboards in our homes I hope). Which leads me onto my next question. Can digitizing traditional tools (household or otherwise) truly act as a replacement to its raw physical real-world counterpart?

Onto the videos…

Nokia Magnifier uses the autofocus feature on S60-based camera phones to enlarge tiny text.

Spirit level on N95 uses accelerometer to prevent wonky DIY.