This paper by Jan Chipchase (Nokia research manager) et al. describes a nine-month cross-cultural field study of what people consider to be mobile essentials, how those mobile essentials are carried and problems typically encountered.
Through careful field observations and in-depth interviews of 17 participants in four cities (Berlin, San Francisco, Shanghai and Tokyo), transitions between different situations turned out to be critical moments in which mobile essentials took on specific value, but also created problems of forgetting and loss.
The paper, which was first presented at the dux05 conference and is now published in AIGA’s Gain: Journal of Business and Design, introduces the notions of Center of Gravity, Point of Reflection and the Range of Distribution to describe user behaviours.
Based on the study findings nine product concepts related to mobile essentials were developed. One of the design concepts was the Reminder Shelf, a place where people could stow their mobile essentials by the door, as well as make digital reminders such as pictures of things to bring that were not on the shelf. The shelf design had a mobile charger to encourager users to put their phone on it.
Download case study (pdf, 381 kb, 8 pages)
(See also this post by Carolyn Wei who provides some longer notes on this study – scroll down)