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Posts in category 'Mobility'

5 March 2008

Nokia on the future of mobile phones in three, five and eight years

Nokia Research Center
Darren Waters of BBC News recently visited Nokia’s scientists and researchers at their lab in Palo Alto to talk about the future of mobile phones in three, five and eight years, and also beyond that.

The first thing he highlighted is the fact no-one at Nokia calls the devices phones anymore; they are multimedia computers.

He was shown three projects being developed at Nokia’s labs around the world, two of them in Palo Alto.

Read full story

26 January 2008

Recent publications by Prof. Paul Dourish

Paul Dourish
Putting People First regularly features the work of UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish, whose interest lies in the crossover areas between computer science, anthropology, ubiquitous computing, mobility, design and HCI.

Here are some of the recent publications by this very prolific researcher:

Brewer, J., Bassoli, A., Martin, K., Dourish, P., and Mainwaring, S. 2007. Underground Aesthetics: Rethinking Urban Computing. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 6(3), July-September, 39-45

An ethnographic study and a design proposal for a situated music-exchange application suggest how explicitly foregrounding the experiential qualities of urban life can help rethink urban computing design.

Dourish, P. 2007. Seeing Like an Interface. Proc. Australasian Computer-Human Interaction Conference OzCHI 2007 (Adelaide, Australia)

Mobile and ubiquitous computing systems are increasingly of interest to HCI researchers. Often, this has meant considering the ways in which we might migrate desktop applications and everyday usage scenarios to mobile devices and mobile contexts. However, we do not just experience technologies in situ – we also experience everyday settings through the technologies we have at our disposal. Drawing on anthropological research, I outline an alternative way of thinking about the relationship between technology and “seeing” everyday life and everyday space.

Brewer, J., Mainwaring, S., and Dourish, P. 2008. Aesthetic Journeys. Proc. ACM Conf. Designing Interactive Systems DIS 2008 (Cape Town, South Africa)

Researchers and designers are increasingly creating technologies intended to support urban mobility. However, the question of what mobility is remains largely under-examined. In this paper we will use the notion of aesthetic journeys to reconsider the relationship between urban spaces, people and technologies. Fieldwork on the Orange County bus system and in the London Underground leads to a discussion of how we might begin to design for multiple mobilities.

Williams, A., Dourish, P., and Anderson, K. 2008. Anchored Mobilities: Mobile Technology and Transnational Migration. Proc. ACM Conf. Designing Interactive Systems DIS 2008 (Cape Town, South Africa)

Mobile technologies are deployed into diverse social, cultural, political and geographic settings, and incorporated into diverse forms of personal and collective mobility. We present an ethnography of transnational Thai retirees and their uses of mobile technology, highlighting forms of mobility that are spatially, temporally, and infrastructurally anchored, and concepts of the house as a kinship network that may be globally distributed. We conclude in pointing out several ways in which our observations and analysis can influence design.

Troshynski, E., Lee, C., and Dourish, P. 2008. Accountabilities of Presence: Reframing Location-Based Systems. Proc. ACM Conf. Human Factors in Computing Systems CHI 2008 (Florence, Italy)

How do mobility and presence feature as aspects of social life? Using a case study of paroled offenders tracked via Global Positioning System (GPS), we explore the ways that location-based technologies frame people’s everyday experiences of space. In particular, we focus on how access and presence are negotiated outside of traditional conceptions of “privacy.” We introduce the notion of accountabilities of presence and suggest that it is a more useful concept than “privacy” for understanding the relationship between presence and sociality.

(via Pasta&Vinegar)

6 January 2008

Interactions Magazine relaunched

Interactions
A few weeks ago, I announced the new direction taken by Interactions Magazine under its new editors-in-chief Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko, and now the first issue is out.

The content looks very exciting indeed and the editors-in-chief have done a great job at getting some of the best people in the field to contribute.

Columns

Features

In addition, there are several “Forum” pieces and a few book reviews.

Unfortunately, the publishers (ACM) have taken a weird approach to the online version: while the site has all the trappings of an online publication (with a nice design, a good table of contents, commenting, and article blogposts), it contains hardly any content! They only have excerpts available online – you have to be an ACM member to read the full text – in the printed issue that is (at $50 for 6 issues). Also there is no information about the authors online. Not surprisingly, the site has very few comments and I doubt it has much traffic.

I hope the hard copy will arrive quickly here in Europe, but even more that Richard and Jon will be able to convince ACM that this is not a very good online policy.

3 December 2007

Jan Chipchase at TED conference

Jan Chipchase
The TED conference has published its video of the talk by Nokia’s “user anthropologist” Jan Chipchase in March this year:

Nokia principal researcher Jan Chipchase’s investigation into the ways we interact with technology has led him from the villages of Uganda to the insides of our pockets. Along the way, he’s made some unexpected discoveries: about the novel ways illiterate people interface with their cellphones, or the role the cellphone can sometimes play in commerce, or the deep emotional bonds we all seem to share with our phones.

Jan Chipchase can guess what’s inside your bag and knows all about the secret contents of your refrigerator. It isn’t a second sight or a carnival trick; he knows about the ways we think and act because he’s spent years studying our behavioral patterns. He’s traveled from country to country to learn everything he can about what makes us tick, from our relationship to our phones (hint: it’s deep, and it’s real) to where we stow our keys each night.

Jan’s discoveries and insights help inspire the development of the next generations of phones and services at Nokia. As he puts it, if he does his job right, you should be seeing the results of his research hitting the streets and airwaves within the next 3 to 15 years.

Watch video

1 December 2007

Intel’s Essential Computing vision

Essential Computing
From Intel’s Essential Computing website:

Intel Research’s over-arching vision for the future is evolving from one of proactive computing to one of Essential Computing. Over the years, we’ve been part of a steady evolution moving computing from the machine room out into people’s workplaces and into their daily lives. As this transformation continues, we will see computing evolve from being a number of separate devices we each use occasionally to dozens of devices that are an essential part of daily life.

Intel’s vision of Essential Computing encompasses five research areas, or as we call them, research themes. These five research themes – Personal Awareness, Physicality, Emergence Engineering, Concealing Complexity, Richly Communicative – focus on making technology more viable, more useful, more personal, more essential in our daily lives. Through these research directions, we seek to simplify and enrich all aspects of our daily lives through applications and systems technologies that collectively empower each of us as individuals, connect us to each other and into the fabric of networked society.

The five research themes for Essential Computing

Essential computing is a big goal. To spearhead this effort, we’ve broken it down into five research themes.

Concealing Complexity
As more devices become essential to our daily lives, it will become increasingly important to conceal their complexity.

New Possibilities for the Cell Phone Platform
Imagine carrying all of your applications, documents, photos, and MP3 and video files with you, in a device no larger than a deck of playing cards. That’s the concept behind the Personal Media Server.

Personal Awareness
In the future we may have a “wardrobe” of personal devices to help us pursue short- and long-term goals and personal enhancement.

Physicality
What kinds of new interfaces, sensors and actuation systems will allow people to seamlessly interact with the computing and physical parts of their lives?

Richly Communicative
Computing devices are increasingly being used as communicating devices. What’s needed are ways to convey more meaning and intent.

Videos

Researchers

The Essential Computing site also links to a page which presents some key Intel researchers and the projects they are working on, including many of the People and Practices Research Group (P&P):

  • Ken Anderson (anthropologist, P&P) – Transnationals and cosmopolitans-people who are living outside of their home countries
  • Richard Beckwith (research psychologist, P&P) – community adoption of technology
  • Maria Bezaitis (director, P&P) – a vision on ethnography
  • Sunny Consolvo – user-centered design for ubiquitous computing
  • Scott Mainwaring (reseacher, P&P) – People’s relationships with technology
  • Wendy March (interaction designer, P&P) – Teen girls and communications technology
  • Eric Paulos – Emerging digital and wireless urban landscapes
  • Allison Woodruff – how people interact with the growing number of portable electronic devices in their homes
27 October 2007

The future of presence

Movement
The Dott07 festival, curated by John Thackara, and taking place in the English city of NewcastleGateshead, is now in its last few days. One of the events was a series of debates on a variety of topics, such as energy, food, health, movement, and schools.

The debate on movement started from the assumption that the movement of people and goods around the world consume vast amounts of matter, energy, space, and time – most of it non-renewable. Question that arise are: Should sustainable development therefore be concentrated in cities, where economic progress can most feasibly be de-coupled from transport intensity? Or are there ways to ensure that rural communities have access to services by using transport resources more smartly? And could new forms of sustainable tourism be enabled by access to territorial and cultural assets that already exist?

The session began with a keynote from Anthony Townsend, research director at the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto, California, who has now posted his entire presentation online.

“What I want to talk about is not the future of mobility but rather, the future of presence. By ‘presence’ what I mean, is that if movement or travel is a means – then presence is the end. And so I want to broaden the discussion of mobility to include technologies and practices of telecommunication – ways of being “present” at remote locations.”

Townsend believes in the future of virtual worlds, telerobotics, and high-definition videoconferencing. But does presence really always require such high-end technologies?

Townsend’s talk was followed by a review of Dott 07’s Move Me project, which explored the potential to transform transportation resource efficiency in one village, Scremerston, in Northumberland, and by a review of three Dott 07 projects – Sustainable Tourism, Welcomes and Mapping the Necklace.

15 October 2007

The fifth screen of tomorrow

Bruno Marzloff
The always very well-informed Internet Actu blog has posted an article by Bruno Marzloff, a sociologist and the driving force behind the Chronos Group, a research lab specialised in mobility and dislocation. Marzloff reflects on the future of our relation with the city, with our urban environment, to better understand how we will interact with it, and how this environment itself will become the support of our media. Has the urban become the media? [The translation from French to English is by Mark Vanderbeeken]

People are the new media“, said Pierre Bellanger in a recent article in Netéconomie (“The social network is the telco’s future“). If this means extending the collaborative approach also to the mobile phone, it is not really much of a surprise. For sure, “the new culture is participative” and extending this approach to the world of mobility seems rather straightforward, even if one can only guess the shapes this culture might take once it is detached from the PC and the big stationary screens. But Bellanger, who is the founder and CEO of Skyrock radio, goes quite a bit further in this reasoning. What he has in mind is nothing less than a revolution taking place, with him sitting in the front row. Or said differently: the mobile person is the media (and the individual gets mixed up with his mobile). Therefore the mobile (individual and machine) becomes the fulcrum of his communication and his outreach. The mobile is receiver, sender and relay station.

This central role of the mobile in our media world becomes amplified, adds Pierre Bellanger, because “Who knows better what I am doing, what I am watching, what I am listening to, with whom I am talking or where I am, than the machine that carries all these activities?” The media inserts itself in the mobility of the user while at the same time giving him “full control of his exchanges. The modest size of the screen and the keyboard is no limitation: it can connect to whatever other machine, appear there as a virtual support and therefore use the connected machine, including its peripherals, as an extra resource“. The mobile takes control of its surroundings: “A bit like the iPod takes control of a stereo system to which it is connected“. Bellanger concludes: “It is the small terminal taking charge of the big one“.

The “small terminal” is the new screen that comes in the wake of others that mark the history of communication. The first screen in the history of technology was a public one: it was the big cinema screen. The second one was a collective one, but it wasn’t public: it was the television set. The third one, the computer screen, was personal but could be shared. The fourth one, the mobile, is on itself, intimate, not to be shared, and accompanying me wherever I go.

And the evolution isn’t finished yet. A fifth screen is already on the horizon. A screen perhaps without a screen, without contact even, or on the contrary connected through a multitude of extensions. A screen that will highlight the evolution towards more autonomy and more mobility (i.e. the capacity to mobilise our resources, which the English call “empowerment”).

This fifth screen covers a collection of things:

  1. public technological devices (displays, kiosks etc.),
  2. public infrastructure without screens, that enter into a dialogue with our personal terminals that have screens (mobiles, smartphones, iPod and other mp3 readers, audio-video, game consoles…),
  3. or, by extension, with other terminals which are not “enabled” (contactless cards, RFID tags…),
  4. the mobiles themselves, because “the capacity of exploitation contained in the device itself becomes the capacity of a server“, as Bellanger explained.

Now set up as a human cyborg through the mediation of the mobile, the individual enters into a dialogue with tags, that become increasingly pervasive in the city. The urban nomad navigates along the structure of his own information system; in a dialogue with real time and real places; in continuous interaction as well with other nomads.

This media complex integrates the individuals in a moving tissue. The fifth screen marks the arrival of ambient technology, of the Everyware that Adam Greenfield calls it in his book Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing (see here and here). This Everyware is the field of development of the fifth screen and the new online service and media perspective of thecity. It is also one of the open topics to be addressed in the Villes 2.0 [Cities 2.0] programme, and a challenge to understand the city of tomorrow. Everyware is a real revolution due the way extends the power of us all (but also of the various operators and of authorities) in the public realm. This is why in the city of tomorrow, the urban is the media.

The “familiarity” one can feel towards a city or a neighbourhood, even while discovering it, is the real stake of the fifth screen. We will rather speak of a “permanent process of familiarisation” in a city where everything changes and moves all the time. Or in the words of Peter Morville, author of Ambient Findability, it is crucial to provide people the tools for their autonomy, their wayfinding and their choices – the author speaks of freedom that is granted to individuals (“empowering individuals with information and choice”). How? The answer to him requires a neologism: findability (which describes “a world in rapid emergence where one can find whoever or whatever, from wherever or whenever”). What does that mean concretely? One goes from the web to the city, and from the link to the place. One googles the city like one googles the Web. “Findability” applies to the existence of signs, reference marks, beacons and other types of information in the city, links as it were to real times and places, that allow us to navigation and to be secure in the city.

The goal of the fifth screen development, as some experiments are already showing, is to make the city familiar, to provide useful information and transactions, to enable a dialogue between citizens, and to allow the population access to participatory information, without forgetting of course some space for the imaginary. The fifth screen is the city. It is the urban as a media. They are waves, labels, signs, screens, traces, … A city augmented with information, information augmented with geolocalisation. One can feel the pulse of the city in real time and one can even participate in its beat, as demonstrated by the projects Real Time Rome and WikiCity.

The fifth screen is the next lever for urban governance. It allows the urbanite to express himself. The urbanite becomes the media in the city, just like the desktop user is in the world of Web 2.0. The fifth screen opens up a space to a wide range of actors that will use these opportunities of dialogue to share information, entertainment, services, and all kinds of offerings.

But if the field is wide open, so is Pandora’s box! The fifth screen can also become a tool for repression, for surveillance and for all types of intrusion. It could be the opposite of the collaborative media of sousveillance (with the system allowing us to see our voyeurs and therefore establishing a balance of reciprocal transparency, as outlined by David Brin in The Transparent Society). The history of the fifth screen will need to be written together by citizens, companies, and regional entities.

Bruno Marzloff

13 October 2007

Creative Conversion Factory

Creative Conversion Factory
Just when you thought that science parks were based on a paradigm, a new mixed science, technology and business driven initiative – the Creative Conversion Factory in Eindhoven, Netherlands – will launch on 12 November. Note the current focus areas though!

Turning bright ideas into brilliant products
Many bright innovative ideas fail to be developed into exciting, new products simply because they see the light of day in the wrong place or at the wrong time. For example, a company may decide not to pursue an idea because it doesn’t fit in with their strategy, or an idea may never get off the ground because the inventor doesn’t know where to find appropriate partners. It’s precisely to prevent such a waste of good ideas that a number of partners have now come together to found the Creative Conversion Factory (CCF).

What does the CCF aim to do?
The CCF aims to facilitate and accelerate product innovation in the field of high-tech systems by encouraging collaboration in design and ICT between participating companies and knowledge centers. It provides a place where inventors, manufacturers and investors can come together in a spirit of open innovation to turn promising ideas into viable products.

What does the CCF offer?
The CCF welcomes the submission of any patentable creative and technological innovation as a potential project. Submissions will be evaluated on the basis of a number of criteria, including the extent to which they enable participating organizations to achieve synergies and improve their capabilities. Once a project has been adopted, the CCF investigates whether there is a market for a product based on the idea and whether such a product is technically feasible. The CCF coordinates contacts among the various parties. In principle, the outcome of the project is a product prototype.

What capabilities are covered?
The CCF has so far defined three main areas of capability that it can apply in adopted projects:

  1. Sensor technology, including sensors and actuators, software and hardware platforms, wireless communications and high-level end-user programming solutions;
  2. Lighting, focusing on creative solutions based on new technologies that enable highly controllable lighting to be integrated into the surroundings; and
  3. Psychology, especially techniques for positively affecting people’s behavior and attitudes.

What are the current focus areas?
Projects undertaken by the CCF focus on Ambient Experience, i.e., the embedding of intelligent technologies into the surroundings to make people’s lives more enjoyable, easy and productive. During the initial phase, the emphasis will be on two themes within this topic: Mobility & Navigation and Care & Wellbeing. Participating partners will collaborate to develop new concepts in interactive gaming environments that facilitate navigation in complex environments and stimulate social contact and physical exercise.

Who are the participating partners?
Partners participating in the CCF include the Technical University of Eindhoven (Faculty of Industrial Design), Stichting Brainport, Design Academy Eindhoven, Philips Research, Philips Design, Dutch Polymer Institute, Holst Centre, NH Hotels (Koningshof) and Living Tomorrow.

Creative Conversion Factory is an initiative of Emile Aarts, Scientific Program Manager of Philips Research. The concept and the business plan have been developed by Brainport Foundantion in conjunction with the Faculty of Industrial Design of the Eindhoven University of Technology, Design Academy Eindhoven, Dutch Polymer Institute, Holst Centre, Philips Design, Philips Research, NH Koningshof, and Living Tomorrow B.V.

28 September 2007

Making bus trips more pleasurable and productive experiences

Smart bus stop
“From Boston to Brazil, city planners and transportation gurus are reimagining the possibilities of the humble motorbus, using high-tech ‘smart mobility’ to challenge the preeminence of the car — and revive the urban commons,” writes the Boston Globe.

Much of the most innovative thinking now focuses on improving the passenger experience, instead of the more difficult challenge of moving buses faster along crowded streets. But city planners, armed with affordable global-positioning and computer technology, hope that meeting these seemingly modest goals can make bus trips a far more pleasurable, even productive, experience.

With fuel costs high and public concern for the environment rising, some public transportation officials sense an opportunity to challenge the car’s preeminence.

[...]

“The more communication that happens between citizens, the stronger the urban garden,” said Federico Casalegno, an MIT sociologist who led the team that developed the futuristic bus stop prototype.

At the heart of much of the new thinking is a concept that some urban planners call “smart mobility” — integrating the flow of people with the flow of information. Whereas transit companies have traditionally seen their passengers as ciphers who want nothing more than to be physically moved from one place to another, the future of transit reform lies in seeing these passengers as active participants in a constantly evolving information cluster. The transportation system should share as much information with passengers as possible — how buses are flowing, when the next one is expected. It should give passengers access to information about the outside world — from international news, to e-mail, to data about the passing neighborhoods. And passengers, in turn, should be empowered to share information with the system and, if they want, with fellow riders.

“The general concept is to increase connections between people, places, and transportation systems,” said Casalegno, who is the director of the Mobile Experience Laboratory at MIT. “It shouldn’t just be about getting from Point A to Point B.”

- Read full story
Slide presentation (SlideShare)
MIT project web site | MIT class project website (with video)

28 September 2007

A mobile revolution is taking place in the developing world

Phone use in Africa
The mobile platform is currently undergoing somewhat of a revolution in the developing world — and so are people’s lives — with Africa now more advanced than the rest of the world in terms of mobile banking. The user experience challenges are only beginning to be addressed.

If you want to keep abreast on developments in this field, here is a crop of news stories from just this last week:

A recent special report in Business Week on how basic cell phones are sparking economic hope and growth in emerging — and even non-emerging — nations. The report takes a particular look at the micro- and macro-economic impacts of this development, and what it means for local entrepreneurs and major mobile operators. It also features an online extra on the use of mobile phones by artisans and tradespeople in rural India, a summary graphic and a slideshow;

A Reuters story on the beeping boom in Africa, what the social practices are, and how that is pushing mobile operators to innovate their services;

A post on the Vodafone R&D Betavine blog on the Mukuru Kash service that like Paypal will store funds that you pay to them online and then set up a voucher which can be redeemed at the petrol station for fuel;

Next: bridging the digital divide, a recent post by Niti Bhan, where she puts developments in the bigger picture of bridging the digital divide between the digital haves and have nots, and wonders what will happen if all these people in the developing world can also start accessing the internet from their mobile devices;

In a recent post on mobile banking, Barbara Ballard of Little Springs Design guides us to three blogs on the topic: Mobile Banking (news and analysis from Brandon McGee, a VP in charge of mobile banking), Mobile Money & Banking, and Mobile Banking, the blog of Hannes van Rensburg, CEO of a South African mobile banking provider Fundamo.

Note by the way that all the user research work by Jan Chipchase and others seems to have paid off: Nokia dominates the mobile handset landscape in India with an astonishing 74% market share.

18 September 2007

Ferrari on the importance of understanding users

Antonio Calvosa
The user as an unconscious sensor of the environment” was the title of Antonio Calvosa’s (Ferrari S.p.A.) keynote speech today at the Ubicomp conference in Innsbruck, Austria.

Abstract:
This talk adheres to the vision that in order to bring key benefits to human daily experiences with products and specific environments, new collaborative, ubiquitous and pervasive systems need to be developed, thus moving away from a stand-alone and computer-centred vision technology. The idea of the user as an unconscious sensor of the environment will be presented together with the possibilities offered by the application of adaptive systems to a particular user experience such as driving high performance vehicles. The example of the Ferrari’s Innovation Team will be brought as a case study of a multidisciplinary group which, by accounting for corporate needs and research trends, is active in shaping research directions and facilitating the market exploitation of both new paradigms and technological achievements. This will be presented by means of a series of initiatives in the area of ubiquitous and pervasive adaptation.

Mr. Antonio Calvosa, currently leading the Ferrari’s Innovation Team Project, is in charge of bringing knowledge into the Company with respect to future and emerging technologies that can play a relevant role in enriching the Ferrari’s driving experience. He developed a series of international collaborations with leading institutions, mostly within the Seventh Research Framework Programme of the European Commission. In particular, attention has been paid to the identification and exploitation of new concepts for future human-machine interfaces.

He is a co-author of a series patents at Ferrari on human-machine interface and of a patent on electron microscopy held at Philips Research. Antonio Calvosa graduated cum laude in Electrical Engineering from Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and also received his ‘Diplome d’Ingenieur’ from Ecole Supérieure d’Electricité (Paris, France) within the Top Industrial Manager for Europe Programme. He also holds a Master in Physics of nanostructures from Paris XI (Orsay, France).

According to Rachel Hinman of Adaptive Path, who attended the keynote,

Calvosa encouraged the audience to “…get your mind out of the lab – put your mind into figuring out how to communicate your technology to everyday people like your mom, or to your friend.”

He also talked about how in the end, you should always be thinking about the end user and putting people at the center of what you do. He gave an example of the Moen Revolution shower head created by Design Continuum Inc.

“Moen Revolution was an example of engineering the product based on the design. We worked in reverse to design the inner working that would improve the shower experience.”

He stressed that user need drove the design and development of this product – not technology and engineering.

30 August 2007

Destinations straight from internet to your Mercedes

Mercedes
“Starting next week, some Mercedes-Benz drivers will be able to plan trips to restaurants, stores and landmarks using Yahoo or Google, and then send directions directly to their vehicles.

The program, announced Wednesday, is called Search & Send.

It was jointly developed with the two Silicon Valley Internet giants and DaimlerChrysler’s Research, Engineering and Design North America office in Palo Alto.

Drivers can plot destinations, addresses or points of interest using Google Maps or Yahoo Local Maps. Then, they can click a “Send to Car” icon. The information is then sent to the vehicle’s GPS navigation system and can be retrieved by pushing a dashboard button on the car’s Tele Aid telematics system.”

- Read full story [San Jose Mercury News]
Search & Send website with videos
Read press release

25 August 2007

Kitchen Budapest, Magyar Telekom’s innovation lab

Kitchen
Magyar Telekom‘s new media lab Kitchen Budapest (KiBu), opened in June 2007, is a new media lab for young researchers who are interested in the convergence of mobile communication, online communities and urban space and are passionate about creating experimental projects in cross-disciplinary teams.

Promising idea-makers are provided with undisturbed working conditions and paid scholarships.

One of Magyar Telekom’s objectives with this project is to promote new initiatives and creative ideas that later might be competitive on the market.

Research fields

What happens to the net once it meets the urban space? How does private space relate to the saturating wireless networks? Where does user created content gain authority? How does our use of cities alter as we get more and more real time feedback of its dynamics? What makes a home smart? Street-smart?

We would like to rethink and remix the possibilities of new media in our everyday lives and to augment connections between new technologies and our society.

Lab

KIBU offers a research lab space downtown Budapest, a basic grant for a dozen researchers, some equipment, and a dynamic workflow where sharing and helping is essential , and the freedom to capitalize any good idea.

Being sponsored by Magyar Telekom(MT), the leading Hungarian Telco, there is a direct path where ideas and prototypes get reach larger audiences, in case MT and the project group finds ways to do so. Our aim is build a platform where ideas are materializing and some end up in cultural context, some in the market.

Art and technology

Kitchen Budapest regularly organizes exhibitions to present our prototypes, as well as works or projects from related institutions and professionals.

(via IFTF’s Future Now)
 

UPDATE: 6 OCTOBER 2007:

Short report of visit by IFTF’s Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

25 August 2007

Mobility is cultural, not just functional

Walking
UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish and Intel researchers Ken Anderson and Dawn Nafus argue in “Cultural Mobilities: Diversity and Agency in Urban Computing” that urban computing, i.e. mobile computing in the city, needs a much broader definition that takes into account.

“On the application side, many systems design efforts focus on the city as a site of consumption and an inherently problematic environment, one to be tamed by the introduction of technology. On the user side, many systems design efforts focus their attention on young, affluent city residents, with both disposable income and discretionary mobility.

The narrowness of both the site and “the users,” we will argue, has meant that mobile and urban computing have been driven by two primary considerations. The first is how to “mobilize” static applications, allowing people to get access to information and carry out traditional desktop tasks while “on the move,” the anytime/anywhere approach as manifested in PDA applications that attempt to produce mobile versions of desktop applications or connect people wirelessly to remote infrastructures “back home” (e.g. email on the RIM Blackberry.)

The second is how to provide people with access to resources in unfamiliar spaces, the “where am I?” approach, as manifested in context-aware applications that attempt to help people navigate space in terms of resource such as devices (e.g. the nearest printer), services (e.g. recommending stores), or people (e.g. finding friends via Dodgeball).

While these applications clearly meet needs, they fail to take the urban environment on its own terms; they are based on the idea that urban life is inherently problematic, something to be overcome, in comparison to the conventional desktop computing scenario. Further, they fail to acknowledge the lived practice of urban life, and in particular its diversity and the different urban experiences of different groups. In focusing on abstracted rather than concrete behaviors, on individual consumption rather than collective sociality, and on the pairing between discretionary mobility and urban consumption, this approach paints a very partial view of urban living that leaves many people out of the picture.”

Instead, the authors “turn to research in social science that seeks to understand the relationship between meaning, identity, movement, and space, drawing particularly on work in anthropology and cultural geography”. Based on theoretical and empirical work from social science, they are “developing a new approach to the relationship between mobility and technology.”

Download paper (pdf, 248 kb, 14 pages)

(via Nicolas Nova’s Pasta & Vinegar)

7 August 2007

Fing: the next generation internet foundation from France

Fing
For some time now I have been following the French innovation blog Internet Actu, not realising that it was part of a bigger initiative called “Fing“. Fing stands for “Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération”, or the the next generation internet foundation, aimed at stimulating and promoting R&D and innovation in ICT uses and services. Here is how they describe themselves in English:

Founded by 3 leading Internet associations, including the Internet Society, FING is a collective and open research and development project which focuses on tomorrow’s Internet’s uses, applications and services.

FING views the future Internet as not only more reliable, mobile, fast, user-friendly – but as a different Internet: the disappearing Internet, in which broadband, mobile, pervasive, intelligent technologies make it possible to focus on the user’s needs, lifestyles and desires. We believe this technological change will unleash a new innovation cycle in applications and services. We also believe that the Internet’s decentralised design should and can scale to the next generation and is innovation’s and competition’s best chance for the future.

FING intends to help corporations, public agencies, education and research organizations be at the forefront of this new cycle. Through collective and networked intelligence, creativity and experimentation, Fing seeks to improve the efficiency of the innovation process, as well as reduce risks for all involved parties.

FING:

  • publishes Internet Actu, a weblog and media which is read by 70,000 professionals;
  • supports several workgroups and communities;
  • organises visits to research labs and innovative companies throughout the world;
  • publishes papers, books and reports;
  • moderates or takes part in foresight exercises such as Ci’Num, the Digital Civilizations Forum;
  • organises international conferences and industry events such as Mobile Monday France, or the “Crossroads of Possibilities” which showcases very early-stage innovative projects.

FING is networked with other, similar initiatives throughout Europe and the world. FING’s CEO, Daniel Kaplan, is a member of the European Commission’s eEurope Advisory Group.

FING currently has more than 165 members, including: BNP Paribas, EDF, Ericsson, Eutelsat, France Telecom/Orange, Galeries Lafayette, HP, INRIA, Microsoft, the Ministries of Education and Research, Toshiba, etc.

Some browsing around led me to interesting initiatives such as:

  • Villes 2.0 (Cities 2.0), which is aimed at helping traditional urban stakeholders (companies, institutions, social entities) and “digital actors” foresee urban and mobile transformations and work together on them. There are four focus areas: the augmented city (related to ubiquitous computing); my own city (which is about personalisation and user-centredness); service innovation (and co-creation); and social sustainability.
     
  • Active Identities, which is focused on identifying and stimulating the necessary actions to make the active management of digital identities into a resource, a tool that allows users to control their lives and realise their projects, a factor of confidence, and a source of innovation and value creation.
     
  • Innovative Interfaces, a new project which ponders the question how the fact that our direct and indirect interactions with machines and digital services, which keeps on getting better, simpler and easier, can help remove certain barriers for people with “difficulties” (e.g. non-users).
     
  • Active and autonomous living until 90

Also of interest are a series of videos including this presentation by Fing CEO Daniel Kaplan at LIFT07, as well as a huge amount of rather unorganised project videos from the Crossroads of Possibilities project.

4 August 2007

Peter Morville on “Ambient Findability and The Future of Search”

Ambient_findability
Peter Morville, widely recognised as a founding father of information architecture, spoke in June 2007 at Google TechTalks on “Ambient Findability and The Future of Search” (video online).

At the crossroads of ubiquitous computing and the Internet, the user experience is out of control, and findability is the real story. Access changes the game. We can select our sources and choose our news. We can find who and what we need, when and where we want. Search is the new interface of culture and commerce. As society shifts from push to pull, findability shapes who we trust, how we learn, where we go, and what we buy. In this cyberspace safari, Peter Morville explores the future present in mobile devices, search algorithms, ontologies, folksonomies, findable objects, digital librarianship, and the long tail of the sociosemantic web. Peter challenges us to think differently about the power of search – and findability – to redefine our sources of authority and inspiration in an increasingly digitized and networked information environment.

Peter Morville co-authored the best-selling book, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, and has consulted with such organizations as Harvard, IBM, the International Monetary Fund, Microsoft, the National Cancer Institute, and Yahoo! Peter is president of Semantic Studios, co-founder of the Information Architecture Institute, and an adjunct lecturer at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. His work has been featured in many publications including Business Week, The Economist, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal. Peter’s latest book, Ambient Findability, was published in 2005. He blogs at findability.org.

29 July 2007

BMW’s car dealership cathedral

BMW Welt
The New York Times reports that BMW is opening a lavish, cathedral-like showroom in Munich to showcase its history and to deliver vehicles, bathed in a spotlight and rotating on a turntable, to their new owners.

“Strolling through BMW Welt, with its cyclone-shaped entrance and billowing, cloudlike facade, it is easy to forget why the carmaker built this more than $250 million palace: to hand over cars to customers.

Starting in October, about 170 vehicles a day will be delivered to the cathedral-like showroom at BMW Welt (BMW World, in English). Rather than picking up a new car at a local dealership, drivers who pay a little extra for the privilege come here to receive delivery of their vehicles, finding them bathed in a spotlight and rotating on a turntable.”

The article highlights how other German carmakers are also erecting “a string of lavish, architecturally distinct temples to showcase their wares” – such as the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the brand new Porsche Museum and Volkswagen’s Autostadt, one of Germany’s top tourist attractions. The author argues that the current building boom “reflects the increasingly intense competition among the world’s leading luxury carmakers — as well as the threat posed by younger Asian auto brands that are gaining on them” and that “nowadays, that competition turns as much on heritage and image as on horsepower and handling.”.

Read full story

25 July 2007

Nokia Trends Lab

Nokia Trends Lab
Nokia Trends Lab is the company’s new physical and virtual hub of mobility experiences. It seems very much set up as a co-creation initiative, with Nokia wanting to enable creative thinkers to push the boundaries of how to use mobility as part of their creative process.

Various experiments are formed within the ‘Nokia Trends Lab’ and indulge every creative discipline ranging from music, photography, film, and design.

Music Lab
Including all styles and genres, composer, Djs, producers, ring tone creators and sound designers.

Photography Lab
Including all styles and genres

Design Lab
Including software development, product design, fashion items, multimedia creation, graphics, interactive and web content, VJ, Illustration, installation design and lighting.

Film Lab
Including film photography, special effects, character design and animation, computer animation shorts and pop promos, documentaries and film installations.

In addition, there is Nokia Trends Lab Live, with live performances taking place in a number of European cities.

There are now Nokia Trends Labs in France, Germany, Italy and Lithuania.

The European Nokia Trends Lab seem to be a version two of an earlier Nokia Trends project with strong Latin-American roots. There are Nokia trends sites for Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Europe, Mexico and Switzerland, and it is introduced as follows:

“Nokia Trends is an absolute hit with people in tune with the main trends in human and technological expression, bringing together both established and new artists.

Created in Brazil in 2004 and later exported to Latin American and European countries such as Mexico, France and Russia, Nokia Trends is an experience that proposes different ways of consuming and producing avant-garde art and music via electronic means – especially mobile ones.”

25 July 2007

BMW reports on the secret life of cars

The Secret Life of Cars
The architecture and design blog dezeen reports that carmaker BMW published the results of a UK-based study into the way people behave and feel while travelling in cars, both as drivers and passengers.

The findings come in a report called The Secret Life of Cars and What They Reveal About Us – an “anthropological study into human behaviour and motoring”, which was commissioned to help BMW understand drivers’ current and future needs.

The report explores issues such as the way sign language (image) has evolved so drivers can communicate with each other – but notes that no satisfactory signal for “sorry” has emerged. It also finds that, with the rise of eating and drinking in cars, inadequate cupholders is one of the biggest sources of driver discontent.

Among other issues explored in the report – which involved research, focus groups, driver interviews and in-car observations over a four-month period – are attitudes to vehicle emissions and climate change, talking and even singing in cars and the relationships people have with their vehicles.

The report explores the rituals of getting into and out of cars (men take an average of 8 seconds to get out, women 10 and families up to 10 minutes) and identifies new trends among car owners such as personalisation, regional colour preferences and “green-upmanship” – “a tendency to worry about whether their car looks ‘un-green’.

It suggests that families are now likely to spend more time together in the car than anywhere else and that car journeys have replaced the “semi-mythical family mealtime” as the main point of communal experience.

The study was carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) in Oxford and the report was compiled by Not Actual Size.

- Download full report (pdf, 3.3mb, 89 pages)
– Other articles: The Times (UK), Design Week (UK)

(via Core77)

24 July 2007

Trabber, the simple flight search engine

Trabber
Trabber [a contraction of travel + grabber] is a new and seemingly simple search engine that simultaneously searches on the main online flight providers: online travel agencies, lowcost carriers and traditional airlines.

Trabber compares all the flight offer from [a still somewhat limited list of] providers and shows the final prices of the flights, without hidden cost. The Trabber results are the same that one would get by directly going one by one to all the web sites. The difference is that, with Trabber, one only has to search once to find all the available flights.

The tool was launched by two young Spanish entrepreneurs, with the help of a usability expert. The first version was in Spanish and that seems the most advanced site for now. Meanwhile, beta versions of the site have launched in the US, the UK, Italy and Germany.

Their business model is based on traffic redirection, they told me. The first impression is one that feels like Google, so perhaps being bought by Google might be their other business goal.

Some hickups need to be fixed still (it didn’t recognise Milan as a “nearby” airport to Turin and has only 6 traditional airlines in the Italian version), but on the whole it works rather well.