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Turn Your Phone Into a Remote Control

Interact with friends who don't have consoles using a smartphone app

Photo of Jeevna Prakash
2 6

Written by

I am a.....

  • Student

Tell us about your idea

One of the main things we miss during the stay-at-home period is being able to interact with our friends at work and school.  Many of us do not have access to many different types of video games or consoles, but smartphones are ubiquitous.  There are also many different sensors built into these smartphones like the accelerometer, gyrometer, and others.  Each of these sensors can be used to relay the relative position and speed of the phone, and this information turns any phone into a game controller.  I would love to be able to use my phone as a game controller and interact with my friends through games that make use of physical motion.  It would also be interesting to implement health apps or exercise challenges using these controllers - letting us get exercise and maintain contact with our friends and family.  

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Often students are asked to learn content for the sake of regurgitating it on an exam. I hope that the inspired ideas during this difficult time will move us toward teaching a love of learning, and rather than testing. This is a unique opportunity for educators and students around the world to reevaluate their roles and seek more equitable, networked learning. We should move towards teachers providing the guidance to learn essential skills like creativity, critical thinking, and leadership. This, combined with resources online for learning virtually every subject, enables us to provide students a more holistic education, and prepare them for self-learning and discovery long after they’ve left the classroom.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I am a computer science and cognitive science student at the University of Virginia.  In the past I have volunteered and worked with education nonprofits, and I currently lead Baby Bundles - an initiative to provide equitable access to books and learning materials for preschool aged children.  I am also an aspiring product designer, hoping to improve the ways that we interact with tech and each other.

This idea in particular was inspired by a class project at UVa - my friends made an app that allowed them to use their phones as a controller for Mario Kart.  

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

I live in Sterling, VA - I am proud to be a part of my diverse community in Northern Virginia. I had the great privilege of attending excellent public schools, and hope to share my experiences and love of learning with others.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rachel Siegel

We are so grateful that you took the time to submit your idea, Jeevna Prakash - we need student voice as much as possible in the redesign of school! I'm Rachel, one of the Community Coaches. I love that your idea focuses on taking an existing resource (i.e. smartphone) and using it in a way that builds connection. Let's imagine that you received funding to make your idea come to life - how would you begin? What might you need?

I was especially moved by your words, "We should move towards teachers providing the guidance to learn essential skills like creativity, critical thinking, and leadership." YES YES YES! I wonder, in your experiences as a learner, what helped you explore your own creativity and leadership?

Thank you for all you're doing to spread your love of learning to others. You are awesome!

Photo of Jeevna Prakash

Hi Rachel - Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and give feedback!

This idea revolves around a phone being "turned into" a controller - which can be done with a single well-developed application, like any other you would download from an App Store. I was inspired by my classmates' ability to do something similar in a matter of weeks, so I'd imagine that bringing this idea to life wouldn't be very costly, but rather require programming and application development skills to accurately read and process sensor data into a functioning app. I imagine there would be a need for significant user testing to ensure that the application accurately simulates the sensors in a typical game controller. Ideally, we'd even develop compatible games of our own to increase accessibility for those who cannot engage with other systems (either due to cost or physical access).

The aspect of learning I love most is being able to take information from one topic and drawing connections to others. The teachers I found inspirational always encouraged me to think big and apply the basics of what I had learnt to more complex subjects (writing our own test questions, helping design class science experiments, structuring/mapping our notes). I think this will go hand-in-hand with any new learning methods we develop from now on. Teaching students to determine central themes in their learning helps foster the sense that they are taking an active part in their own education and encourages creativity!