Microsoft: Whack Your Cellphone to Stop Ringing

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is in the process of pursuing a new patent that would stop mobile phone rings with a simple "whack". The new technology could save users from embarrassing searches through pockets and purses in order to find and press the 'decline' or 'end call' button.

The Microsoft patent application is filed under the name "Controlling Audio of a Device."

According to the patent description, it covers "a method comprising, in a mobile communications device, receiving information indicative of acceleration of the mobile communications device, determining correlation between the information indicative of acceleration of the mobile communications device and exemplar whack event data."

Microsoft Clarifies What Constitutes a "Whack"

Microsoft's use of the term "whack" has aroused vibrant discussion in online forums. Critiques of the term were prevalent enough for Microsoft to feel compelled to issue a response on the matter.

The software giant clarified that "whacking" the device to mute the system also involves "slaps, hits, swats, smacks, flicks, pushes, taps and the like." (Source:

In actuality, striking a whack-enabled smartphone delivers a jolt to its internal accelerometer. With the new technology in place, that could be enough to cause the phone to turn off its audio output.

(Microsoft also clarifies that "audio" incorporates a phone ring, custom ringtones, user-initiated audio, a message alert, a personal recording or an alarm.)

Battery Life, Excessive Force Areas of Concern

However, some insiders are concerned that leaving the accelerometer on for long periods of time will rapidly drain a smartphone's battery. Microsoft is looking to reduce this problem by linking motion-detection to the phone ring or other audio signal.

Another criticism is that users have no guidance regarding how much force they need to cancel a ring. What happens if a user strikes a device too hard, breaking the phone? Will that void the warranty?

If not, this would likely give some people an excuse to return a broken smartphone simply by claiming they "whacked" the device to stop it from ringing at an inconvenient time or place. (Source:

Observers expect Microsoft will have answers for these questions as smartphones outfitted with the "whack" technology near retail release.

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