Tag Archives: devices

iPad – a brave new past? A few of the iPad’s ancestors…

OK, everyone’s talking about the iPad today and I’m not going to contribute alot more to that but I saw the below device today at work and it made me think that for all the technological advances Apple’s announced (10 hr batter life – WAY better than my iPhone), there’s not really much of a new idea in the thing.  I was hoping for something more.

So, behold… the iPad of the past:

iPad of the past

iPad of the past

iPad of the past

iPad of the past

If you look closely you’ll see its even called an eBook – and I’m sure there must’ve been a bookstore of some sorts to get them from.  Admittedly, Apples will be better than this but it shows why I’m not wow-ed by the iPad, initially anyway.

And while joking about this while someone I was working with at the time, he reminded me of the TRUE ancestor – the Apple Newton.  Remember those?

Apple Newton or iPad prototype?

Apple Newton or iPad prototype?

I guess its good to know that the drumbeat of mobile computing continues, even if we’re not wow-ed at every turn.

‘Divergence’ – the computing around us – my mobile 2020 predictions

I just finished reading Mobile Trends 2020 from M-Trends and it’s great to see what some of the leaders in the industry are thinking about for the next decade.  This is the presentation:

I’ve been offering some predictions in the talks I’ve been giving lately – like the one I did at XMedia Lab Sydney and Over The Air 2009 (click to see my post/slides on this).  Broadly they could be summed up in the final slide which had the message: “Your mobile was just the FIRST connected device.”  I introduced this by making more specific predictions that:

- Mobile will take centre stage (in our computing lives)

- Everything becomes connected (even our clothes.  Yes, I want an umbrella that wirelessly knows when it’s going to rain and beeps at me as I leave my flat, reminding me to take it with me.)

- Everything becomes filtered by location (and this drastically changes our relationship to content and its meaning)

- Mass participation and creativity will grow (because more and more of the unconnected will become connected).

So, broadly I was glad to see that alot of the experts in the industry were talking along the same lines.  Really encouraged, actually, even if their predictions were generally alot more informed and nuanced than mine.

What struck me though, is that there isn’t really a name for the trend that’s being widely predicted about what I’d call ‘the computing that happens around us.’  Broadly, I’d say this is a combination of: wearable/embedded/environmental technology, ubiquitous connectivity, context awareness and pervasive screens.

Depending on who you talk to, ‘convergence’ has happened or is about to happen.  iPhones and Android handsets are here, Netbooks are taking off and there’s that persistant rumour about the Apple Tablet and firm plans for other tablet devices (newspaper killers?!).  Sooner or later, I think we’ll all end up with a ‘smart’ converged device that will connect into the ‘computing around us’ that I described above.

So, I’d like to propose that at good name for this trend of smaller computing points on/in our bodies that connect to other computing points/screens in our environment be ‘divergence.’  Why?  Because what fundamentally underlies it is a move from us each having one personal computer that we interact with to a world where we interact with many computers simultaneously and sometimes unknowingly, even if much of this computing is/will be consumed through our converged devices (which will remain important!).

I’d like to propose that at good name for this trend of smaller computing points on/in our bodies that connect to other computing points/screens in our environment be ‘divergence.’

Broadcaster have had to (or are) shifting from a one-to-many model to a one-to-one model with their content.  Soon, I think we will move from a one-to-one (or a few) model for our user-to-pc access to a one-to-many model for our pc/mobile access.  We’ll have devices that are ‘ours’, devices that ‘know’ (recognise) us and devices that are ‘unknown’ but that we still share information and data with (often in a passive sense) – the level of trust and permission we permit these diverged devices to have will depend on which of these categories they fall into.

Please, let me know what you think.

Fun fashion fantasy fone stuff

My Doggie Ring Ring

My Doggie Ring Ring

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… No… It’s a dog, it’s a phone… WHAT?

I’ve always thought alot of the digital media devices we see are UGLY so was relieved/amused by two things that crept into my inbox today thanks to some very fashionable colleagues.  (If this type of thing interests you, I highly recommend you read We Make Money Not Art which looks at the intersection of art, fashion and technology.)

The first is seen in the picture above.  OK, it might not be QUITE what everyone would call fashionable – but it’s a great stab at making mobiles fun and fashionable.  Apparently, this is what one of my colleagues learned recently when she went to the showroom for the company that made the My Doggie Ring Ring in Japan.  They’re called iida – and doggie phones aren’t the only cool thing they make (but it might be the most fun!).  They’ve also got a range of concept musical instrument phones and ones that incorporate solar panels.  The work is being done in conjunction with the Au Design Project – check out their site for more interesting concepts.

I really like the way that the designs incorporate fun and fantasy with objects that provide us with utlity.  Sure, usability and utility are great – but I sometimes feel in our hyperconnected world that we need a little room to indulge ourselves with a bit of fantasy and frivolity and that all too often we gloss over this because it might impinge on usability.  Why shouldn’t we have devices that give us a laugh, connect with our tastes and personalities?  Services on mobiles are becoming more personalised – why shouldn’t the devices themselves do the same – and maybe give us a tiny bit or reliefe from the hyperconnected world we live in?

On a slightly less practical note, I was also sent a picture of a QR Code belt buckle.  So, if you want people taking pictures of your crotch and then being able to use that picture to download a URL to their phone to go to your blog (or other online profile?) you can now do it!  More here.

QR Code Belt

QR Code Belt

And… not mobile related at all but as long as I’m pointing to some everyday objects re-imagined, I couldn’t resist this one – Creative Coffins.  Eco-friendly (cardboard!) and reflect your tastes, pastimes, nationality – whatever you want.  I quite like this beekeeper’s model:

beekeeper coffin

beekeeper coffin

Mobile as the 7th Mass Media by Tomi Ahonen

Click here to find on Amazon

Click here to find on Amazon

OK, so I probably shouldn’t be promoting books I haven’t actually read yet but wanted to put up a pointer to this one after reading a great excerpt last night.  I’m excited to get the whole book – looks like a great read and what I read was full of good stats.

Sure the author is a guy with an agenda (heck, so am I) but he makes a very convincing case, not that mobile will replace all other media but that it is about to become a key part of the media ecosystem.  Think about it – what’s the first device many of us look at when we wake up and the last one we look at when we go to bed?

I’ll write more after I’ve read the whole thing.

Download the excerpt I read.

Tomi Ahonen on Twitter.

Mobile predictions for 2009 from Fjord

Christian Lindholm and his team at Fjord (whom the BBC have worked with on a number of occasions) has released a set of predictions for the mobile world in 2009 – and if they’re right, it sure looks like an exciting year ahead. In fact, taking an optimistic view of the trends, you might even say this could be THE year where mobile really comes centre stage. In the spirit of these being ‘Fjord Thoughts’ I wanted to share some of my own thoughts, which I’ve gathered under the headlines from the report. Make sure you read the full report and not just my comments – it’s really good stuff!
 

App Stores are digital Innovation Bazaars

The app stores are clearly going to be a crucial access point between consumers and content/services for their devices – there’s no doubting that. However, what I thought was really interesting here was the prediction that “The long tail of the App Store will allow the iPhone to attract great content and emerge as a true mobile gaming platform that puts pressure on the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.”

Sure, you’ve been able to download and play games on a range of devices before and sure, many portable games consoles can connect to the internet, but I think this blurring will be particularly interesting. First, interesting to see which devices become prefered/dominant with which types of users but, moreso, from my perspective because its potentially where content and gaming can come much closer. Anyone fancy an alternate reality game that gives you clues in news stories based on where you are and the proximity of other players?

The Cloud puts digital life at your fingertips

“The PC is displaced as the hub and takes its place as a powerful but non-mobile client.” When I first read this, all I could think was, “Wow!” and then “But REALLY?” Much as I’d love to believe this and it would be great with relation to what I do for a living, it seemed a little implausible – reading on into the report, this is refined a bit to talk about teens and people in developing countries, and I think this is more likely. We see this happening for a small wedge of UK users – a growing minority – but I don’t see a full reversal of hub/client devices this year for mainstream audiences. Watching the behaviour of those audiences who DO make this switch will be interesting though. My youngest brother and a teenager I work with already can’t see the point of having a laptop (nevermind a desktop) when they can have a Blackberry.

I think the other interesting thing about how ‘the cloud’ will affect our experiences that will emerge will be around how entertainment and media cross between equally connected clients. With over-the-air downloads from the iTunes store, does the music ‘live’ on your PC or your iPhone? And will this be the year that delivers on the dream of being able to ‘take’ a programme you were watching on TV away on your phone when you leave the house?

TV finally goes mobile

I can’t write about this report without being grateful for the praise that Fjord has given the BBC in this section naming us as one of the players who will help drive this trend. Nice. We’re already seeing “mobile couch potato” behaviour growing – peak time for the use of BBC iPlayer on mobile is between 8.00pm and midnight – times when people are relaxing at home (possibly in bed) and using their reliable, fast wifi connections. This is different to what’s seen on the desktop version of BBC iPlayer and later than peak time for traditional TV viewing so very interesting to keep an eye on.

I recently saw another presentation (by another company) looking at mobile in 2009 that predicted that Mobile TV was dead. At first these seemed contradictory – but actually, they were in agreement. What the other presentation meant was that TV on operator portals was dead; and that its time for other TV/video services to emerge – perhaps like BBC iPlayer on mobile and the others that Fjord are suggesting. Wouldn’t it be cool if we stopped watching video on our mobile screens this year and that its when “video goggles” (aka virtual retinal display) takes off?

Location becomes the new service bedrock Sure, I buy this. BUT… the editor in me would modify this prediction slightly. I think there’s going to be a proliferation of applications that use location – but I’m not convinced they’ll all be very useful or as easy to develop as some people think. I talk to a lot of people who make the assumption that if something’s near you, it’s automatically relevant – this isn’t always the case, and even if it is, it might not be what you want.

If I’m searching on my geo-aware device for information about an upcoming business trip or holiday, I definitely DON’T want information about what’s currently nearest to me. I’d probably like to know what hotels people who LIVE near me stayed in when they went to my destination – but I suspect working out these types of subtleties and the user experiences that make them excellent will be a little bit of a way off and that we might see a lot of gimmicks in the meantime (excluding maps, of course). And worse, the top 10 headlines near me, might actually do me a dis-service if it turns out that the raging fire a few towns over is the 11th story, meaning I never get to find out that my home is in danger.

Korea: X|Media Lab: 3D internet, virtual worlds and Mobile

I did two speeches back-to-back earlier today at the X|Media Lab and Mobile Content 2008.  In both, I gave an overview of what the BBC’s been doing on mobile; which is slightly ironic since the Koreans are so far ahead of the UK, technologically.  Hopefully I had alot to share with the audiences about the content side of things.

The theme of this X|Media Lab is “3D Internet: Virtual, Visual and Social.”  I have to admit, I don’t know a hell of alot about the 3D internet other than that it exists and has a huge audience.  Before spending last week at Crossover Nordic, I didn’t realise just what a huge audience it has but when it was put in the context that many of the big worlds like World of Warcraft and Second Life have more inhabitants than many real-world countries, my ears perked up and I realised it was time to pay more attention.  Good thing I’m here.  But what on earth was I going to talk about?

The answer had to be about how mobile and virtual worlds could overlap and complement each other.  Here’s my presentation (.ppt) and I’ll elaborate on it below, because the more I think about it the more excited I get about the possibilities.  Click to Download: X|Media Lab Presentation

So here’s what I suggested could be done:

1) Mobile can provide a persistent and ubiquitous connection the worlds, extending the opportunities for play and connection to the worlds.

Users of these worlds are ‘addicted’ to them and I suspect would welcome any opportunities to be more connected, more immersed and able to constantly participate ‘in world.’  I understand there are some Flash clients being developed for phones that will hopefully create 2D or 3D versions of the worlds.  This seems good, but like a ‘mini-me’ type of approach; and I’m not sure this will work.  Will the screens be big enough and good enough to render something useful?  Will on-the-go users really want to pay this much attention?  Or would they rather a thinner connection when the world is in their pocket at work?

On thing I spend alot of time telling people is that mobile ‘isn’t just a mini version of the web.’  Sure, mobiles access the web, but a mere copy and paste approach doesn’t always ensure success.

I think it might be cool to see if the types of services that help audiences stay in touch with their real world would be popular with helping them stay in touch with their virtual worlds.  SMS alerts sent from the worlds or text messages from or between characters in the world seem like an obvious opportunity. Imagine a guild of players in World of Warcraft texting out of the world to players in another guild to get online and help them in a battle where they need backup/support.  Texts would reach the players and they could rush from the real world back to their PCs to get in world and play.

The Twitter Fountain in Second Life is a start at this as Keren Flavell from SLCN.TV pointed out to me, but its still feels more like novelty and the beginning of something better:

And what types of web apps could provide data from the worlds to thin mobile clients, widgets or even simple mobile web pages?

2) Thinking about this type of connection and play, I wonder how these could be crossed with Alternate Reality Games.  ARGs are doing more out of home and with the crossover between real the real world and mobile and I think that this type of crossover could be replicated into the virtual world – possibly even triangulated between reality, alternate reality and the virtual world.  What a game that could make.  Can you geocache in any virtual worlds (yet)?

3) So how could all this work.  Well, I’m no expert.  But I have an idea that flexible, open web services could sit in the middle of these different ‘worlds’ (aka media) and provide the glue that lets transactions and interactions flow between them.

For example, using the Last.fm API you could (I think) create a situation like this if you built the right connections into the Virtual Worlds, Mobile Web, etc:

- I’m in a physical store and see a CD I want to recommend to a friend;

- I capture the barcode/semacode on the packaging which gives me information about the album from the mobile web on my phone;

- I could then choose someone from a list of virtual friends to recommend the track to;

- They would get notified, in say Second Life, and be able to stream the track for free;

- If the friend likes the song, they could add it to a Last.fm style playlist or even buy the track using real or virtual currencies.

In my presentation, I tried to describe it with this diagram:

To elaborate…  If we’re moving to a world where the ‘Internet of Things’ is becoming a reality, then everything around us will be connected, not just our devices.  This should apply to things in the virtual world as well.  If flexible and open web services can connect to these via mobile devices, strong connections between the real and virtual world can be created.  Behind this a strong system design strategy would be required.  Expanding from the idea that ‘Designing for Accessibility is good design’ (because everyone can use it), you could move to the idea that designing for mobile is (also) good design because everyTHING (in the real and virtual worlds) can access and use the service.

I’m obviously not going to be the only one thinking about this stuff but sitting in a room full of experts on this world has me really excited.  Neil Katz, from IBM, told me about a few examples where you can start to see this stuff coming to life in a very basic way.

The first was an IBM R&D project that echoed/emulated a Virtual World on Treo device.  Video of it here:

He also showed me this motion-aware mobile interface on a Samsung for Virtual Worlds (very cool!):

Also: Click to download my Mobile Content 2008 Presentation (similar to the X|Media Lab presentation but with a little more detail on the specific content the BBC has done)

Korea: A mobile device you NEVER want

So I’m in Seoul, Korea for X|Media Lab and Mobile Content 2008 and upon landing was immediately looking for some examples of the cool mobile/wireless devices and gadgets that Korea is so famous for.

I didn’t expect the first one I saw…

Glad this didn't greet me in Seoul

Wireless lost-baggage device: Glad this didn

This badboy is a wireless display that goes around on the luggage conveyer belt at the airport to notify people that their luggage has been lost.  Glad I didn’t see MY name on it, but couldn’t help think it was pretty cool and showed JUST how wired Korea is.

I wonder if I’ll meet these guys (spotted at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam at the weekend) while I’m here…

Seoul Men

Seoul Men