Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Conference Notes - Mobile User Experience (MEX) - London, 30/11/2010 (day 1)

This post is out of the usual context on this blog. For people who have attended (or missed) the Mobile User Experience (MEX) conference in London from 30/11 to 1/12/2010, you can review my notes from the talks below. The notes are by no means complete and there is no guarantee of validity. However, any comment is welcome - especially about things I missed or "misnoted".

1. Introduction to MEX (Norbert Metzner and Marek Pawlowski)
  • More than 50% of the network traffic comes from data
  • But just 20% of the revenue comes from data
  • Already 7.5 million iPads are sold - and they are the only personal devicee to offer simultaneous multiperson user interface
2. Tell me a story (Jason DaPonte)
  • Everytime we call someone, we tell a story
  • Location is key - describing and navigating the location you're in (or could be in)
  • Seabird Mozilla pico-projector phone
  • Reckons the use of second screens will initially be in a social context (e.g. constant twitter streams)
3. Simultaneous multi-touch interfaces on mobile devices (Kate Ho)
  • Seeing strong trend in people moving away from netbooks towards tablets
  • Simultaneous multi-touch interfaces mostly used for games at the moment (e.g. table football)
  • How to use multi-touch (and multi-user experiences) to increase productivity ? Move user experience closer to paper
  • On tables (and mosts multi-user interfaces), where there is no top/bottom side, the better multi-user experience comes through circular layouts (so that content is up-right for people on every side of the table
  • For advising or consulting, multi-user interfaces enable the customer to engage more in the process and take action himself
4. Best practice in mobile health care: setting the scene (Gus Desbarats)
  • The sooner a company puts an emphasis on the user experience of/for their technology, the more likely it is they build a brand instead of selling or licensing their IP to other brands.
  • In healthcare, it's all about productivity. They don't just need more data or more accurate data, but need to know how this allows them to treat more patients, increase success rates or allows them to be more efficient.
  • Difficulties in design for health care, because products have to be designed for people who are (potentially) completely different to the designer (e.g. less capable, less "technology instinct")
5. Overcoming technology limitations to explore new form factors (Mark Muenchinger)
  • Since pocket radios, mainstram personal devices have always been in a brick (or slate) form factor
  • Moving parts are the main challenge
  • Slate design is sub-optimal for 3D user experience (input and output)
  • Reckons clam-shell form factor will return soon (in the form of a wallet)
6. Identify ways 3D can enrich the user experience with visual depth (Mattias Andersson)
  • Combining emotional experience without sacrificing usability (highlights example of cool iris) is powerful
  • OpenGL on mobile devices is getting to a good standard, but is not yet perfect (feels unreal, not responsive enough), e.g. no real-time shadows.
7. A constructivist approach towards understanding user experience (Ali al-Azzawi)
  • "A person's processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which he anticipates events" (Kelly 1955)
  • 3 part ICE model for user experience:
  1. Evaluation (of an item)
  2. Interaction
  3. Construction (of model how something works)
  • Super Constructs of user experience
    • Novelty (to engage users to try something)
    • Usability (Efficient and Understandable) - design patterns helpful
    • Complexity (Visual and Conceptual) - making things too easy makes them less fun to use - some form of complexity necessary
    • Aesthetics (Formal and Classical) - shared meanings (e.g. for people using apple products) drive network effects
    • Physicality (Mass, Size, Fit, Form) - determines how people hold an item and interact with it (which can be comfortable or uncomfortable)
    • Value (Quality, Functions, ...) - feeling exclusive
    • Convenience (Pragmatics, Compatibility, Battery, Capacity) - Symbols (like "Made for iPod") indicate that products will fit into your lifestyle
  • Relationships (between self and objects/brands/others) create meaning
8. Screen today, gone tomorrow (Greg Taylor)
  • Townhall research estimates over 500 million tablets alone will ship by 2015
  • Advanced 3D projections at a concert
  • Primary usage of free space projections is military (e.g. strategy planning) and advertising (e.g. projecting a coca cola bottle into a skyline)
  • Could lead to "bombarding" people with advertisement
9. Breaking free of shape constraints and identifying form factors of the future (Andrew Muir Wood)
  • Average height of a mobile phone dropped constantly until about 2002, when it started to increase again (because people wanted more features like cameras) to a now fairly stable average height of about 110mm (dominant design)
  • "My useful is NOT the same as your useful"
  • Ways to make mobiles more personal:
    • Custom (adapt it to personal needs or preferences by modifying or adding software and hardware). Also potential for rapid prototyping (e.g. shaping the back of the phone to match the owner's hand)
    • Boutique (e.g. importing phones from Japan which are truly unique but not available here as mass-import and necessary technical modifications not worth the potential sales). Barriers for making independent phones is decreasing constantly.
    • Special purpose phones (Switching seamlessly between two (or more) devices would increase mobile sales heavily as there is a demand for special purpose phones (link: especially women like to have different types of phones)) (Thought: The cloud could enable  this and Google with its sophisticated cloud synchronisation services is on a good way of enabling this)
10. Children, education, shared touchscreens and visual depth (Ben Scott-Robinson)
  • "Talking Carl" app - Interactive communications for toddlers
  • User experience intuitive, and the digital experience allows kids to just try things (e.g. singing fingers app)
  • Touch experience important for kids, which is why computer software for toddlers did not work out big time
  • Country-specific focus can be irritating (e.g. different words for things in US and UK)
  • Upcoming concept: "smart pollow" - soft, robust, but interactive, i.e. toddlers can play with it without any worries (from themselves or their parents)

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