The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Mobile Phones Changing Shape Under Pressure

cell.pngThere are a number of pressures underway on mobile phones  as they adjust to the new demands being placed upon them. In NewScientist this month there is an article Innovation: The smartphone's shape-shifting future that focuses on a prototype that is much more physically flexible than current phones. It uses this flexibility as an extension of the user interface.


The article also talks about shape-shifting phones that adjust the shape of the phone based on the context of the situation. In the example, they discussed the shape being based on how much battery charge is left – for some reason that reminded me of how you can look at a toothpaste tube and just tell how much material is inside.


Since HP just announced the Pre2 and a new version of Web OS. This blog covers some of the highlights. I’ll create a few posts over the next week on the changes taking place in both the expectations and capabilities of mobile devices.  

Labels: Mobile Trends

Shake, Rattle & Roll

I was recently watching an interesting TED video presented by Fabian Hemmert about “The shape-shifting future of the mobile phone” in which he advances a couple of idea about using device weight and movement to create a richer interaction and in so making digital content more intuitive for users. I believe that in the future technology will increasingly deliver devices that are adapted to humans and how our senses work, rather than the other way round.

In fact, I have often discussed the relative merits of Microsoft Windows, the Macintosh OS X and Linux operating systems; it’s an issue that IT people are very passionate about. Often, I believe they are passionate for the wrong reasons. Technically minded people prefer Linux because it is very easy to tinker with the Operating System (OS) and the OS itself is very efficient from a resource point of  view. However, my position has always been that most people want to use the device itself rather than play around with the OS.  As such, I believe that Windows and OSX are more successful because they are very easy to use. The fact that the use a lot of compute power and storage to achieve this apparent ease of use doesn’t matter to users of the device at all.  

This is illustrated by the success of the Wiimote and clearly the key virtue of the Apple iPhone and Android phones is their multi-touch interface. These all deliver a very intuitive user interface that people find very easy to use.

Why has this change come about? Essentially when IT was expensive humans had to adapt to machines, now IT is cheap we can use it to provide a richer and easier user experience. So not so much the unfriendly technological future of the Terminator movie series, instead the future will be human-friendly. Do you agree?

Geographic information based searching from HP labs

One of my many hats is as a co-chair for HP’s global technical conference. We were having a discussion the other day about utilizing technology in conferences to improve the experience both for those who can make it to the conference as well as those who cannot.

One technology from HP labs mentioned was HP Gloe. This is a geo-tagging experiment from HP Labs that maps Web content to specific geographic locations. Gloe aims to provide a platform for location-based discovery of information for mobile Web users, a rapidly growing audience. Gloe is available on a number of mobile platforms as well as windows so naturally I loaded it onto my new Pre. There is also an API for developers to extend the capabilities as well.



Does your mobile device use match the “norm”?

cell.pngAccording to a recent communications market report by Ofcom out of the UK, multitasking now accounts for one-fifth of media and communications usage. The rise is attributed to an increase in smartphone ownership, up 81 percent in May 2010 compared to the same time in 2009 (12.8 million users versus 7.2 million users).


“On average, nearly half of people’s waking hours are spent using media content and communications services – on average, 45% of the total. People spend on average seven hours a day consuming different media, but they squeeze in 8 hours and 40 minutes’ worth using more than one medium at a time”


The average person today consumes almost three times as much information as what the typical person consumed in 1960, according to research at the University of California, San Diego.


The New York Times reports that the average computer user checks 40 Web sites a day and can switch programs 36 times an hour.


And the constant stream of information we get through mobile and hand-held devices is changing the way we think altering our brains (Digital overload: your brain on gadgets). I wonder if it is changing some of the foundational aspects like Hrair. This is likely an area that businesses need to be aware.


There is an interesting (but a little long) YouTube video by John Cleese about creativity in this interupted world.


Hopefully when HP has its slate device it will change how we use information.

Does recession help or hinder business innovation?

121i041A608F1DA3CF1FA recession makes an IT organization get back to the basics of cost containment and value generation rather than focus on bold new projects. Investments are delayed and yet technology marches on. One of the obvious examples of this is the change in mobile capability and green technologies and yet the lag in adoption for business purposes by most organizations, even though it has taken off in the consumer space.


The focus on the fundamentals cleans out some of the organizational deadwood and allows a whole new forest of investment to grow for organizations once the organization has moved up its equivalent of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. One of the problems that the success of IT causes is that more of its spend is consumed just keeping things running. New business entrants can appear to skip multiple generations of technology compared to the rest of the industry, so cleaning out the deadwood will help bring some balance to the innovation investment of organizations, for those organizations who can approach the opportunities right. In HP ES there is a site on the HP ES perspective of IT innovation.


Mobile is a space where there is significant potential to change the playing field for almost every organization. There is an article titled Think Mobile, Act Local that is worth reading to prime your innovative thinking about mobility and its effect on the world.


Although it may hinder investment in the short term, I think it does cultivate innovation, in much the same way allowing a field to remain fallow for a short time will help it grow crops better than before.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.