CEATEC: DoCoMo lets Android users throw messages

Application intended to be a fun way of sending notes to friends

Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo's Throw Mail application for Android-based smartphones lets users literally throw e-mail messages to their friends instead of simply pressing the send button.

Throw Mail was designed as a fun, "analog" way of passing notes to friends over the Internet, said Keiichi Ochiai, an executive at DoCoMo's Research and Development Center who developed the application over a period of three months.

Demonstrated using an HTC Magic handset at DoCoMo's booth at the Ceatec exhibition in Chiba, Japan, Throw Mail uses the phone's camera to determine the direction of where your friends are located. You look around through the camera until you see a small icon superimposed on the camera's viewfinder that tells you where your friends are, and how far away they are. By clicking on the icon, you can send a message to your friend.

Once you've selected the message you want to send, Throw Mail tells you that you're set to throw your message by swinging your arms like a baseball pitcher in the direction of your friend, sending the message. That message includes a graphic of a Magic handset with a wrist strap -- a helpful reminder not to let the phone go flying out of your hand when you throw a message.

Throw Mail doesn't allow you to send messages to random people. It only works with people on a user's list of authenticated contacts, Ochiai said.

Whether or not Throw Mail will be released as a commercial product remains to be seen and the application remains under development, he said.

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