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Mobile HCI, Visions of the Future

Chris Heathcote recently attended Mobile HCI in Italy. He’s shared his notes on the Visions of the Future panel discussion featuring:
Mathias Schneider-Hufschmidt, Siemens
Harri Kiljander (director of UI), Nokia
Boris de Ruyter, Philips Research
Marco Combetto, MS Research
Matthias Hilpert, Orange
Bruno von Niman, Ericsson (systems, not SE)Mathias Schneider-Hufschmidt, Siemens
Can’t wait 5 years for technology to be adopted (like SMS)
Have to have methods to create and evaluate new technology.
Mobile phone is more than a browser or an information device.
If manufacturers all have different UIs, how can service providers create apps for all of these? – need some standardisation whilst keeping emotional value of UI
Phones are now fashion – if you have several different fashionable devices, information has to be in all to be useful.
IP protection – if carried out in the wrong way, ideas will never be realised. Need the right line between protection and free access of ideas, especially with UI.
Harri Kiljander (director of UI), Nokia
Content management – how do we manage, use ~1 Gb of content on a mobile?
Phones will soon have even more technology protocols included – RFID, wi-fi, CDMA – how can users manage all of this, how can we make it seamless and easy?
Context awareness – where am I, when am I, and with whom? What is appropriate (auto silencing etc.)? Phones are emotion machines (Norman).
Mobile HCI seems to be too many fancy prototypes – need user needs research. Need more research on mobile payments in non-European/developing markets; the aging population of the developed markets.
((Nokia Usability book))
Boris de Ruyter, Philips Research
Technology is not the problem. Lots of tech: storage, bluetooth, zigbee, better displays. The challenge is to find the right applications. Focus on applications scenarios.
Things are getting smaller – small form factor UI research is needed. e.g. clothing.
What are experiences? How do we measure them (especially above qualitative research)?
User development – how can we enable consumers to “program” the devices?
Marco Combetto, MS Research
New generation of applications – e.g. home automation
Spending a lot of money studying interfaces. Trying to replicate experience on PC thru to tablet, Pocket PC and phone.
Collaboration between industry and academia. Need to establish relationships and find ways to share information.
Matthias Hilpert, Orange
Only in the last 6 months have we realised we need to work more closely between operators, devvice manufacturers and software vendors. UI of components is degraded if we don’t work together.
Customers can’t handle the complexity of new services:
Shouldn’t always focus on new stuff and technology – focus on making existing services (voice, SMS) better.
Focus on working together, academia, networks, software manufacturers, device manus.
Need to find a balance between functionality of phone and ease of use.
Phones used to have 2-3 apps with 20-30 functions.
Now, 50+ programs with hundreds of functions.
Increase in screen size etc. hasn’t matched the increase in complexity.
Have to be more sophisticated in measuring experiences. More creative, more tools.
Look into not just what we specify for UI, but how we specify UIs. Specs getting large, hard to handle and understand.
Bruno von Niman, Ericsson (systems, not SE)
Fixed lines decreasing.
1-2 billion in 4 years – but 4 billion have never made a phone call.
1 million device a day.
Major UI improvement < 1980: the handset. Rotary dial, push button keys, touch tone (*#). Steering wheel was developed 50 years ago - now covered in buttons (shows Schumacker's steering wheel). A lot more complex. Segmentation of user needs - we don't all want the same things. Complexity - hidden behind simplicity!? (simplexity) example segments - gen y, active, image-sophisticated, minuteminders, basic professionals, advanced professionals - a family with young children hits several of these. Segments and trends change: actives increase, minute minders decreasing. There is now segmentation of devices. Skinning of devices/UIs now possible. Standards are very important: compatibility full interoperability transfer of learning accessibility e-inclusion There are generic approaches - generic spoken command vocab, harmonised UI elements (ETSI), requirements for assistive technology ETR 102 125 - Generic user interface elements for mobile terminals Don't want same UI when working or in leisure time. Questions: why don't phone manus just make the GSM connector - and let Gucci or similar create the front-end device? MSH: getting more players creating more device components - far more chance of it all fucking up. The phone is a phone is a phone is a phone....... we spend hours trying to create GSM data connections - our customers don't. Features have to work when turned on. If phone is integrated in your jacket, and you leave it at home, get very annoyed - 2nd time, they throw it away. HK: Gucci could design *part* of the UI. PC business is so modular, why don't we do it? Well, actually one company making hardware, one company making the software. Integration skills are hard, especially in small scale. Interoperability is important, operators want to see stability in the UIs - don't want to develop apps for each new phone. Let Gucci do the skinning maybe, but Nokia or manu doing the "hard" bit. MH: from a theoretical pov, specialisation makes sense, but in reality it's difficult to handle, complexity of scope so high - API/interoperability. Small app providers will get into the picture to provide many different apps over many devices - have to have standardisation across devices to support this. Lots of agendas in the presentations - two agendas, 1 wants everything in the device, 1 wants the same UI in every device. Different places have different "interfaces" - you organise for the place. We need more interfaces for more different devices. We handicap ourselves with 1 UI for 1 device. (app studio bloke) BdR: Give people the opportunity to modify the way they interact with the device. MH: users have to cope with a lot of complexity: if UIs change all the time, users will never be able to use it. Possibility of buying a "blank" telephone, with just telephony, and then users can buy/add/delete functionality. Two needs of customer: minimise complexity need, and personalisation, extroverted need, unique device - good for skinning. What happens if we become less mobile - society may go another way, when you're with who you want, and can do your work wherever. BdR: Apps that give a feeling of being together may be something. Power in the future - big problem - how do you design interfaces to minimise power consumption? BvN: power is another department's problem MSH: it's an important usability issue, problem may become a non-problem - changing battery every 3-4 weeks is what we're trying to hit. Battery capacity/cycling is a problem too. We're getting close to the line where this is not a problem. Information appliances need power to keep the information alive. Get a sense of expertise behind the table being "them", and the researchers being "us". Why is there not an expert user, for example, on the panel? BdR: we spend a lot of time gathering user requirements - so there are more than 6 users here! Meta-observation - most presentation in MHCI have been on palm-tops, yet industry is mobile phones. MSH: maybe barking up the wrong tree with many talks at MHCI - many not very worthwhile; haven't addressed needs of users. Seen nice technology, but very little can be carried home and integrate into our phones. Have to investigate what our customers are really doing. HK: in an academic community, natural for PDAs to be used: easier to program, richer. Need to go on to evaluate prototypes properly. Mass market isn't your academic friends or people in the community. Try to keep it linked to reality. How do we help an ordinary end user becoming an expert user? Whos job is it? HK: I don't want to be an "expert" of my car, hate features I cannot use automatically, don't want to read the manual. We have made something wrong if we force people to be expert users. MH: we launched the 7650, call centres under fire for the usability of the phone (many phones like this), majority of the help comes from network operator side - this is very expensive. Ways of addressing this: self-help, FAQs, website, or use the UI of the phone itself to come up with basic help functionality linked to online functionality. Also, Switzerland launched much help through retails stores - lectures, night classes, and in the UK people encouraged to come into stores. Need is valuable, and people will pay for it. Effort however should be in making it easier in the first place so they don't need that help. BvN: levels of usage patterns has increased dramatically in the last 15 years, convergence of calendar etc. into mobile, in all segments; users evolve. BvN: maybe we/industry should reveal more. Also, panel isn't really representative of users - but for example, we track 15000 users, on 5 continents each month. If given a million euros for a mobile HCI project - what title would you have? MSH: having a multitude of phones and transparent movement of information, multiple SIM, multiple address book - transparent multi-phone usage by individual users - TraMP HK: hiding the complexity of new young technologies (inc. synching and how to take stuff from old phone to a new phone) BvN: increasing simplexity for the first billion (expert) users - Simple1 BdR: friends fostering relationships with internet-enabled devices MC: pervasive/dissappearing computing - how to build very distributed connected environment - disaggregating computing OS MH: integrating network services into the UI - location, presence, billing


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