Journal Entry 6: Mobile Interaction Design

This week we talked about mobile interaction design, in other words how we use our cellular phone technologies. After discussing the idea that phones on vibrate is now the most popular option for phone call notification, the question was asked, “What comes next? What comes after vibrate?”

While not quite a game-changer, there is an interesting new feature to HTC Windows 7 Phones, called “Attentive Phone”:

As you can see from the screenshot, the settings for this feature make the traditional modes of being notified about phone calls much more intuitive than a simple ring or vibration.

Why wait until the user explicitly answers the call to silence the ring? Won’t the person already know they are being called by the time they’ve picked up the phone? Use the accelorometer to detect pick-ups and silence it.

What about if the user hasn’t heard the ring or felt the vibrate because it’s in their pocket? Use the proximity-aware sensor to tell the phone to increase the volume and vibration.

At this stage, there are even fun interactions built in, such as turning over the phone to turn on the speakerphone, or to mute the ringer if you’re siting at lunch. The gesture is much more like how we might expect.

There is still so much further features within ‘attentive phone’ could go in the future, such as providing more visual feedback by integrating with your glasses or vision system, or changing away from the traditional ‘place call’, ‘dial numbers’, and ‘end call’ paradigm into something more like ‘point’ and ‘click’ directly on our contacts faces to contact them (as is already becoming possible). Or Brown and Randell’s study on context-sensitive telephones (using location to see user is at cinema and turns off ringer automatically; using time to determine user is likely asleep and turns off ringer).

This is why Attentive Phone is a good example of Mobile Interaction Design – because you can’t help but look to the future.

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