Framtidens mobil / near future of mobility

Norsk Form, the centre for design, architecture and urban area planning, hosted an evening seminar on the Near future of mobility on 11 April 2007. The seminar intended to look at trends and patterns in the design of mobile devices and services. The Touch project was invited to present alongside Anne Galloway and Tapani Jokinen, Senior Designer at Nokia.

“Framtidens mobil. Enklere og mer interaktiv. Minst 2,5 milliarder mennesker eier og bruker mobilen til flere og flere aktiviteter hver dag. I løpet av få år har mobiltelefonen blitt den personlige gjenstanden som alltid er innen rekkevidde og med et stadig bredere utvalg av funksjoner. Hva gjør utviklingen med vår måte å være sosiale må? Hvilke utfordringer står designere ovenfor når de skal lage kompliserte mobiltelefoner som simpelthen skal virke?.”

Anne presented a view on layered places, accumulation and excess, wrapped in a history of her experience as an anthropologist and archaeologist. In particular she discussed how archaeologists and designers are involved in very similar processes, but working in opposite directions. Some notes on her presentation are here.

Tapani presented Nokia’s ‘brand vision’ of connected devices and ‘objects that people fall in love with’. Many of the ideas can be seen in the Nokia A View of the Future videos where seamless connectivity and endless customisation is possible.

My presentation was a range of ideas about the recent history of interaction, the move towards tangible and social ‘computing’, and the problems with designing for mobility and context. I presented some work in progress from the Touch project.

norsk form presentation slides

Download my presentation [pdf 1.2MB] including notes.

The auditorium was packed and many good questions were asked, a refreshing change for a quintessentially quiet Scandinavian audience. Some questions pointed at me were:

  • What about breaking RFIDs, have you designed for unreliability and hacking? I really like the fact that RFID can break so easily, and that information will disappear and need physical maintenance. It also negates some of the problems with RFID privacy, knowing that we can break them with our fingers. But we haven’t designed anything specific around this yet.
  • Will the web go to mobile in its current form? Can we have one universal medium? No. The structure and content of the internet is so different from the ways in which we’d like to use information on a mobile device that we cannot have one huge medium that works for all. Data may be re-used, but there are huge challenges around designing interfaces for many different situations and context, that will need to be included in mobile design practice.
  • What about feedback? How will we get more feedback from phones without looking at the screen? We are looking right now at all sorts of tactile, haptic and sound design issues that will let us use mobile devices in a less screen-based manner.
  • Are you not designing lots of new things that will just add to our information overload? The NFC/touch based interaction issue is attempting to reduce our reliance on visual information overload. We are currently in the middle of a bleeping, distracting, attention seeking device-era, and I’m quite hopeful that in the near future our devices will become less noisy and more respectful of our time and peace.

    The evening was organised with Grafill and the Finsk-norsk kulturinstitutt, thanks to them and to the great audience.

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