17 July 2006

Human integration and the death of the device

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Brain interface
In an article on the website of MEX – the PMN Mobile User Experience conference, editorial director Marek Pawlowski writes about the future of user interfaces, mobile handsets and human integration.

“Technologies exist today to help evolve mobile devices towards more natural, seamless interfaces.”

But, Pawlowski ponders, “if technology [were to] negate the requirement for a physical handset, will users eventually abandon mobile devices? Is the handset fundamentally a barrier to a good user experience? Is the best user interface one which doesn’t exist at all?”

“The primary barrier to more ‘human’ mobile interfaces is humans themselves. We are creatures of habit and followers of fashion. We are accustomed to interfacing through keypads and soft-key confirmation buttons and we will be slow to change our ways. Indeed, there is an argument the last 20 or so years or ‘keyboard culture’ have fundamentally changed our perception of what is natural. For many young teenagers, key-based input is their first language: they text in preference to voice calls, they instant message in preference to group discussion and they type in preference to handwriting.”

“Owning the mobile device itself may also be additive to experience. In a society which values consumption and where marketing messages convince us to aspire towards physical ownership of the latest technology, we have come to naturally associate the best experience with the most expensive devices. Vanity, competitiveness, fashion – all of these thoughts govern our willingness to invest time in learning to work with inefficient interfaces.”

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