A new feature is making its way into a number of recently launched cell phones in Japan and South Korea: motion sensing. The capabilities of the handsets vary a little but the basic idea is that moving the phone through the air translates into actions and inputs on the screen.

The latest handset to offer such a function comes from Sharp, and Pantech, LG Electronics and Samsung have all announced similar devices.

Looking at the four phones, gaming appears to be the main beneficiary of the motion technology. There are a couple of games for Vodafone’s handset that rely on the system.

The first, 'House of The Dead Mobile,' is a zombie shoot-em-up game from Sega Corp. The screen shows the game scenario from the character's point of view, and as the player turns around with the phone, so does the character in the game. In 'Full Swing Golf,' from Taito, the player holds the phone as if it were the golf club and swings it to hit the ball on the screen. A warning before each shot reminds the user to avoid hitting people when swinging the phone.

Similarly, the Pantech handset comes with a fishing game that requires the user to swing the handset like a fishing rod, and a racing game in which the handset becomes the steering wheel. LG's phone, which actually looks as much like a portable gaming device, includes a skiing game that uses the motion technology.

Not only games use the movement technology. Users can dial with the Samsung phone by drawing the numbers in the air with the handset, for example, or end a call by shaking the phone twice. Other functions include a sharp move to the right or left to tell the built-in MP3 player to skip forward or back a track. Vodafone's handset can be programmed to perform similar functions when it is moved in different ways.