Do you hate your phone sometimes? Would you like to hit it to shut it up? Microsoft thinks you would. Redmond giant's latest patent application (#20120231838) describes gestures like whacking, slapping, hitting, and tapping to silence mobile devices. The harder you hit the phone, the faster it responds. The patent application adds that leaving the accelerometer on at all times will drain battery life, so it proposes to only activate it when the microphone detects sound from the slap.
This patent sounds good on a technical level, but I am afraid of its impacts and implications on the society. Software gestures take inspiration from real life gestures - for example, slide-to-unlock is like unlocking a bolt lock, and pinch-to-zoom is like stretching a rubber band - but what gesture does smack-to-silence mimic? Do Microsoft engineers hit their wives and children to shut them up?
Repeated gestures make their way into the procedural memory, and these gestures become second nature to us. We can perform activities like riding a bicycle and tying shoelaces without conscious thinking, because these activities are in our procedural memory. If realized, Microsoft's smack-to-silence gesture may seep into our procedural memory whether we want it or not. What if smack-to-silence becomes to natural to us that we start hitting our loved ones to silence them? This gesture encourages domestic violence, and I don't like it.