I didn’t travel much in 2008 but Dopplr’s year-end summary sure makes it look pretty.
According to the Register, LG Electronics is gearing up to offer a wristwatch phone at CES next week.
There are two ways to look at this announcement and I’d be really interested to hear what people think.
1. This is the first announcement of a new form factor for phones. What looks clunky today will eventually be slimmed down and integrated into a beautiful piece of jewelery. Pair this with a bluetooth headset and make it a touchscreen and you now have a personal internet device that you can wear on your wrist. First generation devices will be for the geek set that wants to play Dick Tracy but in the future there will be a wide range of styles that will redefine a new type of personal technology. Think of what G-Shock and Swatch did for the wristwatch industry.
2. Remember the calculator-watch of the 80’s? It’s now been delegated to the nerd history dump, a curio admired only by niche collectors. The same will happen with the Watchphone. Just as with that calculator on your wrist, no one wants to be caught diddling around with buttons on their wrist – the physical action of picking up a phone to make a call or browsing the web with a device you hold in your hand is too strong a social signal to overcome for a serious market to develop for these devices.
What do you think about the watchphone? The an important first in a new category or future gadget roadkill?
I was at the local Mobile Monday event last night to learn more about Yahoo’s Blueprint development framework and soak up some of the local mobile scene. One of the presenters, sorry, didn’t catch his name, was the UI Designer and he Bill Bull, Head of Platform UED, made a very insightful comment about web development.
usatoday.com is a website – our expectation is that it will change every day as new content is available.
Microsoft Word is an application – we expect it to work the same way every day.
Modern websites such as Facebook or the new Yahoo (Metro) home page are a collections of widgets that change and update themselves as new features get pushed out. It’s a mistake to think of widgets installed on a mobile device as applications, they need to be architected as dynamic pieces of code that can update themselves as new features become available or as new devices offer new capabilities. The update mechanism is a fundamental feature of any web-enabled widget.
MyBlogLog world headquarters is in Berkeley which is normally packed with eager young interns brimming over with cool ideas to re-invent the world. But school’s back in session and most of the interns are cramming for their finals so it’s really, really quiet around here. We’ve been busy day-to-day but methinks a half-day of redecoration is in order. I could bring in some posters, there’s also a couch over on the other side of the office that no one is using. . .
At least we don’t have sad cubes!
Nothing worse than looking at the last five posts for your blog and seeing a bunch of Links for 2007-06-08 [del.icio.us] which is just a sorry excuse for saying that your blog still has a pulse. I’m working dammit – if I have something to share I’ll blog about it and, if you subscribe, than you’ll know. No more random links to clog up your feeder’s inbox.
From today I’m turning off the daily delicious links that have been carried in the feed of this blog using Feedburner’s Link Splicer. I’ll continue to gather links into my delicious feed so if you want to continue to get a daily dose of what I’m reading, feel free to subscribe to that linkroll’s RSS feed.
For those interested in a more nuanced highlight of my thoughtstream, I’ll take the best links of the week and roll them up into a Friday post on this blog.
Leslie Harpold will be counting down the days of Christmas with a new daily entry for her online Advent Calendar. Taking advantage of the medium, she will post a carefully selected graphic and link to pair with a Christmas memory from her community. She’s been at for five years so she’s developed quite a following and today solicits her audience for stories of their own.
Merry Christmas everyone!
[thanks for the tip Michael]
UPDATE : I’m sad to hear that Leslie Harpold passed away. As a sad reminder of this, her Advent Calendar is stuck on the 7th of December.
What will the world be like when everything you own is networked? What if the floor on which you walked, the clothes on your back, your razor, and even in your toilet could not only talk to each other but also could share information with your friend’s devices and other devices and sensors connected to the cloud? What kind of design principles are important in this new world where interfaces melt away and you no longer have a keyboard & mouse and motions such as the unconscious wipe of your nose on a sleeve is a gesture that sets of a series of transactions in your wired jacket?
Adam Greenfield, a big thinker about design concepts in a world of “ubiquitous computing” where networked devices will be everywhere came to speak at Yahoo on Friday. While the talk was full of interesting tidbits (did you know that IPv6 will provide us with enough new IP addresses to network every grain of sand?) he ended his presentation with a list of design principles for this new reality which is rapidly approaching which are worth repeating. The principles are his, the interpretation mine:
1. Default to Harmlessness – in a world where it is possible for a device to broadcast your most intimate details, one must be sensitive to to these risks in the context of the culture in which the device operates. He went on to talk about the example of the Japanese escalator which chimes in warnings upon approach (“the entrance to the escalator is here, take care upon alighting on the escalator”), upon riding the escalator, (“grab hold of the handrail at all times, if you have children with you, take care to hold their hands to make sure they do not fall”), upon approach to the top (“the end of the escalator is near, get ready and take care when getting off”) and then, if you’re going up the zig-zag of a department store, all over again, (” the entreance to the escalator is here. . . “). You get the picture, risk is relative. One culture’s blanket of motherly concern comes off as smothering, nagging nitwit in another culture.
2. Be Self-Disclosing – ubiquitous systems should be technically and physically self-disclosing. Adam shared a few icons he worked on with his wife that could help indicate to the viewer the type of device they are interacting with and what information about them will be shared. One only hopes that the TSA would do this with the new RFID US passports.
3. Be Conservative of Face – ubiquitous systems must not unnecessarily embarass, humiliate, or shame their users. Although Adam didn’t mention this, my favorite example of this is the, “oh, I can’t, I’m away today” excuse that someone would use to avoid a lunch or other social engagement. With geo-sensing devices that publish your location, these would be impossible. Networked devices need to be fuzzy enough to maintain the, “masks of plausible deniability” that are the lubricant of any society.
4. Be Conservative of Time – basically don’t waste the user’s time. If the interface adds extra steps that do not add to the experience or re-assert themselves unnecessarily (too many OK/Cancel buttons), they should be removed.
5. Be Deniable – you should be able to opt out of using any of these devices without suffering any inconvenience. Adam feels this one is the most important principle but unfortunately one which has most likely already been broken. The consequences of living outside the world of networked devices is less convenience. Try to leave your FasTrak transmitter at home and see what happens to your commute time when you need to wait to pay your tolls in cash.
Food for thought and one that makes me realize that despite all the talk about the next-generation web, the keyboard/mouse/lcd is really quite a crude interface for the intermediation of experience.
Did you know that the FedEx logo has an arrow built into it? The Sneeze has an interview with Lindon Leader, the man behind the logo.