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.
Posts in category 'Mobility'
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.
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.
In the future we may have a “wardrobe” of personal devices to help us pursue short- and long-term goals and personal enhancement.
What kinds of new interfaces, sensors and actuation systems will allow people to seamlessly interact with the computing and physical parts of their lives?
Computing devices are increasingly being used as communicating devices. What’s needed are ways to convey more meaning and intent.
- What is ‘essential’ to you?
- Essential Computing Research Overview (short version)
- Essential Computing Research Overview (long version)
- 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
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?
“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.
“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:
- public technological devices (displays, kiosks etc.),
- 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…),
- or, by extension, with other terminals which are not “enabled” (contactless cards, RFID tags…),
- 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.
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:
- Sensor technology, including sensors and actuators, software and hardware platforms, wireless communications and high-level end-user programming solutions;
- Lighting, focusing on creative solutions based on new technologies that enable highly controllable lighting to be integrated into the surroundings; and
- 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
“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)
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.
- 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.
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.
“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.”.
Various experiments are formed within the ‘Nokia Trends Lab’ and indulge every creative discipline ranging from music, photography, film, and design.
Including all styles and genres, composer, Djs, producers, ring tone creators and sound designers.
Including all styles and genres
Including software development, product design, fashion items, multimedia creation, graphics, interactive and web content, VJ, Illustration, installation design and lighting.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
So when he now writes a foresight story (“Where do we go from here?”), I pay attention.
“Overall, this straw poll of some of the IT industry’s leading experts reflects a thoughtful, rather downbeat view of the future rather than the technocratic, gung-ho self-assurance of earlier years.”
The article, which has a strong business value focus, delves into the key issues such as privacy, mobility, and user experiences. He underlines the importance of information having to be “human-friendly” and quotes a KPMG chairman who says that “the next phase of workplace IT could be as influenced by social anthropology as by writers of computer code.”
Juliana Xavier provides some more background on her blog “mind the gap”.
Timo Veikkola is an anthropologist; he studies people into culture. As many anthropologists these days he holds a strategic position inside a global corporation. As senior future specialist at Nokia Design, he looks at society to comprehend how there are going to be shifts in behaviour and culture that can inspire their design team. [...]
According to him, trends are the manifestation of values and attitudes, of people’s behaviour and reaction to what is happening in the world. Therefore, innovation, be it a product innovation or a different way to communicate it, has to be based on a good observation and informed intuition of what is going on in the present.
We present the Motion Presence application, an augmented phone book style application that allows close friends and family to view each other’s current motion status (“moving” or “not moving”) on their mobile phones. We performed a two week long field trial with 10 participants to observe usage and investigate any privacy concerns that might arise. We found that our participants used the motion information to infer location and activity as well as to plan communication, to help in coordinating in-person gettogethers, and to stay connected to patterns in each others’ lives. Participants saw the motion data as mostly confirming their existing thoughts about the locations and activities of others and expressed few privacy concerns. In fact, they frequently asked for more information to be shared to make the application more compelling.
In a blog post Bentley reflects on the meaning of simplicity, which to him “centers on an alignment between the user’s mental model of a system and the actual model running inside the system.” He then expands on the concept of calm technology, introduced twelve years ago by Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown of Xerox PARC.
“They saw a need for people to be aware of their environments, but without being distracted from their primary tasks. Relevant data would be ambiently displayed for people to notice through motion, sound, light, color, etc. Besides the ambient nature of these displays, I think one of the most salient points of this work was that the data being displayed was actually the raw data of bits traversing a network, and not some abstraction or inferred value that might not be as easy to understand. There was no confusion…if the wire was moving, bits were flowing. This simple piece of information could be used by the people in the room to infer whatever they needed at the time…whether it was a good time to print, check email, download a large file, etc.
We used this principle when we created the Motion Presence application. We shared fairly raw context data of if a person was moving between places or stationary at a place (we purposefully did not want to disclose actual locations). We observed that users easily understood the system and were able to use this information to infer activity, availability, location, destination, and time to destination given existing complex social knowledge about others in their close social circle. We could have tried to infer availability from location, time, motion, etc. but we believed that doing so would be confusing and frustrating for users since they would not be able to understand the complex model used to determine availability. And the second it was wrong once (which it certainly would be), users would likely lose faith in the system and not trust it in the future. The motion data was seen to be accurate and users trusted it and thus were able to trust the inferences that they made from it.
The learnings from the Motion Presence application demonstrates the power of people in applying complex social knowledge to inference problems. This is something computers are not very good at, even if they could get all of the raw data, but human brains are wired to deal exactly with these types of situations. In building social systems, let’s try to keep the system simple, and take advantage of the power of people to interpret simple, raw data in a social context.”