From tiny buttons to meaningful gestures
Today’s mobile phone have outgrown their shells: as the number of features rise and their use becomes ubiquitous, interacting through dial buttons is no longer adequate. We investigated the tactility and physical affordance of mobile devices to do justice to the fidelity of the human hand. More than a dozen concepts resulted from it, out of which several were realized as functional prototypes.
The process was directed towards a high level of innovation, yet practicable results. An intense phase of user and trend research resulted in framing of three promising directions: meaningful change of shape, rough versus precise handling, and gestures. The following ideation phase yielded a broad number of concepts that were explored in a sketchy format, as video scenarios, mock-ups, or illustrations. A selection of these was then further developed into functioning prototypes, in order to probe user experience and technical feasibility. To guide the research towards relevant results, the process was accompanied by a series of client workshops.
Example 1: Slapping
This phone challenges the paradigm of treating consumer electronic devices with care: when your phone rings in an inappropriate moment, just slap it and it will stop. The caller is informed via SMS that you will call back. The harder you hit it, the longer the caller will have to wait.
Example 2: Dynamic Knobs
Change of shape is a natural way to signify a change of state. Moreover, as humans we are highly adept to manipulate interpret and manipulate shapes. Inspired by these prinicples, this phone informs about missed calls and other events through little knobs that pop out on the side of the phone. These events can then be responded to by pressing them back in — a permanent, tactile status play with direct interaction.
Published at CHI ’08 conference
Patent No. DE102008003927A1
Example 3: Stickers
No longer search for someone’s business card, or fiddle with a menu to call your dearest — just tap your contact’s sticker. A sticker contains an RFID tag with the contact’s phone number, and a simple foil button. Pressing the button activates the tag and makes it visible to the phone which then dials the number. This service can be used with a standard RFID-enabled phone, which are expected to become ubiquitous soon.
Published at TEI ’09 conference
Patent No. DE102008003928A1
Example 4: Pose
The Pose phone gives meaning to a phone’s body language. Certain poses activate corresponding modes: put the phone in an upright position to activate speaker mode, lay it on its face to mute, or on its back to ring.