Predicting What Mobile Phones Will Do for us Next - 10 August 2009
Read this articlein Chinese (translated by Christina Li)
In the fast moving world of mobile communications, innovation that truly enhances the users’ experience can be elusive. Handset designs based on technology push, network operator specification, and disparate design teams, can fail to respond to people’s lifestyles and miss out on a more engaging experience.
Cambridge Design Partnership and Instrata, a Cambridge-based user experience specialist, recently teamed up to approach mobile communications innovation from the experience of the consumer. By integrating expertise in product design, user-centred design and consumer insight from the outset, and developing new working methods to bring together the different disciplines across organisations, the team was able to generate truly novel handset and service innovations.
Rachel Jones from Instrata says, ‘By developing new ways of working together across disciplines and across organisations, we could build on our different areas of expertise. Now we can apply these methods to other areas.’
Nick Field from Cambridge Design Partnership says ‘It is vital to link new design and technology to the people who actually use it outside the lab or design studio. Our collaborative approach lets us tailor innovative ideas that offer real improvements that are genuinely useful.’
The team developed some ideas into new device and service concepts focussing on three key areas: the tactile experience, personalisation and practical enhancements.
Breathe is a phone that comes alive – it is responsive, tactile and highly personal. Mobiles go everywhere with us; they have become accessories; and they have the potential to offer enormous pleasure through their physical expression. Breathe is a concept that responds to the need to produce a more emotional experience. Breathe recognises and responds to friends calling, the music playing, new pictures, and people’s own touch. It is perfectly weighted and shaped to fit in the palm of our hand, with colour changes, ripple effects and vibrations bringing it to life. It responds to who we are and comes alive with everything we do.
Choice gives people options every time they take a phone out with them. They can take a larger handset, which has all the features packed in and is ready to go for a day at work. Or they can select a smaller handset, which they can pop into their top pocket for a trip to the shops or into a clutch bag on a night out. The Choice Sync Station keeps their handsets synchronized with contacts and data while providing simple services such as automated backup and recharge. All handsets stay charged with up to date phonebooks ready to go when you are.
A video call from a mobile is so difficult to make that many people never bother. Holding a phone out with the camera trained on your face while the caller at the other end does the same, is both tricky and uncomfortable. The SeeUs clamshell phone makes it easier by simply adding more stop positions to its hinge to allow the phone to act as a tripod for its cameras. It gives people the option to set the phone on a surface for shake-free imaging and an effortless call and offers an integrated handsfree kit.
Breathe - responsive phone design
Breathe is designed to include the expressive, emotional elements that are often lost in existing gadgetry, functional services, disintegrated design and digital communications.
Breathe employs novel technologies that make a handset come alive. With lighting, vibration and sound, the handset responds to the person calling, texts received, a person’s touch and body heat, recent pictures and the music playing; it responds to other phones nearby that belong to family or close friends; it can be playful or mischievous. The responses are multi-sensory and customisable. Battery and signal can be displayed as vital signs; it vibrates and changes colour, with ripple effects that give a visual description of breath.
Breathe is weighted, smoothly textured and shaped to lie in the palm of your hand. It makes carrying a handset, holding a handset, and using a handset, an absolute pleasure.
Choice - mobile phone docking
Choice allows people to select the ideal phone to suit their needs on their way out of the door. Sometimes a multi-functional smart phone is the right handset for the day, other times a smaller mini phone, which simply supports calling and texting would be better.
Choice allows people to select the ideal phone to suit their needs on their way out of the door. Sometimes a multi-functional smart phone is the right handset for the day, other times a smaller mini phone, which simply supports calling and texting would be better.They might like to choose between several phones that offer different capabilities and use different tariffs. However, keeping several phones can be complicated to manage with different data on each device and it is difficult to keep them constantly powered.
Choice takes the hassle out of keeping our lives up to date. The sync station removes the need to fiddle with SIM cards, to synchronise contacts, and to remember to charge various handsets; it provides a place in the household to put phones; it offers additional features such as a loudspeaker so the phones can be heard on the other side of the house.
Choice lets us share phones, borrow phones, and try new phones. Choice fits with people’s lifestyles. The station design fits with people’s different tastes – shiny black, brightly coloured, homely - and integrates the technology and the wires into the home décor.
SeeUs - Advanced Camera Phone
A feature of the latest phones is the ability to make a video call, but making a video call is awkward to do. A video call requires the caller to hold out their phone and keep the camera trained on them while the recipient of the call does the same. Over the period of a conversation, the process is uncomfortable and deters lengthy use. The SeeUs concept draws on a simple idea to ensure that making a call is easy to do.
By putting several stop positions on its hinge, the phone can act as a tripod, eliminating camera shake and the need to hold the phone out for the duration of the call. The phone itself is designed for extra stability without extra size. A handsfree kit is often needed for video calling so this is docked into the phone body for storage.
The phone can use the main camera like a scanner to recognise text in an image so that an advertisement or sign can be converted to digitised text to search the web or note down to retrieve later.
This kind of phone in the future will also be capable of carrying a micro projector to allow images to be viewed on a larger scale.
Cambridge Design Partnership creates inspired new technologies and products for clients worldwide. We specialise in the healthcare, consumer and industrial sectors. Our team of scientists, engineers and designers are consistently creating new ideas and innovations.
Instrata is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, and comprises a multi-disciplinary team of strategists, designers, anthropologists, and technologists. We engage an international network of associates that operate globally and conduct projects in Europe, Africa, Asia and the USA.
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