Device Form Factor & Social Cues

There are features of smartphones that come from their form factor.

They weren’t necessarily designed to be there, but patterns of use have emerged around them.

The most obvious example is when we turn our phones face down on the table whilst having coffee or drinks with friends.

Depending on the situation this gesture has varying levels - from putting the phone away completely while on a date, to having the phone out and face up when you are with friends but expecting a message.

It has been said that attention is the new currency, and here this really rings true - sometimes we want to show that we are giving more.

The above case - putting the phone face down - derives from the fact that the phone is a small flat device with a screen on one side.

How does this work as we think about the transition towards wearable computing - i.e. with Google Glass? As far as others can tell the screen is always there in your face.

How will we signal that the computer isn’t on and that we are paying attention to the people around us?

The one killer feature that Google Glass is missing is the ability to slip the whole set up on top of your head like you would with a pair of sunglasses.

My roommate has Glass and it really doesn’t feel comfortable / stable when you do this.

This ability to have a visible, convenient, ‘off switch’ is going to make a huge difference to a wider group of people who feel uneasy about the idea of always being wired in.

I’m definitely excited about the idea of persistent computing, and the future potential for AR - but I think there are a lot of problems to be considered in order to make this reality a pleasant one.

The more present computers become in our lives the more we will need ways to selectively filter them out.

The off switch becomes a very important feature once being connected is the default.

No matter how fast technology develops, it is still driven by human needs - which don’t change nearly as quickly as you might think.


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