Bend it like Nokia and Samsung, the next mobile revolution? | PDD

Bend it like Nokia and Samsung, the next mobile revolution?


on March 22 2012

As the  Mobile  World Congress has  recently finished in Barcelona, it is a good time to reflect on the status quo of technology, design and user experience in the mobile world. Most notable for us is the potential exciting development for mobile device interaction and therefore design.

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We have Apple to ‘thank’ for setting the paradigm of the smartphone as we know it today; a simplification of the 3D form and the correct emphasis on the user experience of interfaces, services, apps and games. Unfortunately this new standard, with its focus on large touch screens, has also made the physical design of  smartphones  incredibly dull and  monotonous.

However, there appears to be an exciting change on the horizon, since recent statements by Nokia and Samsung lead us to believe that the physical design of phones will once again be the centre of attention. Brands are starting to think beyond that of screen technology for vividness, brightness, or pixel density.

Nokia’s Kinetic Device shows what a flexible screen can do to enrich and redefine the interaction with a  smartphone . If you bend the screen towards yourself, it acts as a selection function, or zooms in on any pictures you’re viewing. In music mode, you can navigate, play and pause with the tactile interface. And just think what it can do for mobile gaming.

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In the same week that Nokia showed the Kinetic Device on their Excel show late in 2011, Samsung also announced that their first products with a flexible screen will launch in 2012. Although there is no news yet on which devices will get to use the tech first, a spokesman did  confirm  that it would “probably start from the handset side”.

We are again one step closer to seeing those sketchbook concepts from the 90’s happen, so designers and developers get them back out again and  start developing them, now!

The tablet that folds in half for easier storage, the device that rolls up like a piece of parchment, display jewelry, augmented reality goggles (word’s out Google is bringing out one of these), new and funky interactions with touch/voice/gestures, beautiful display integration on any form and ergonomic improvements that make shapes easier to hold, grip, use… anything goes.

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For years, design in the mobile world has been split in half, the designers that design for a screen and those that design devices. The future is one step closer to bringing interaction design back to the physical world; making the need for these two groups to work closely together in the future more essential than ever.

On a personal note, pfewww it’s just in time! Us product designers were really starting to get fed up merely defining the right radius for the minimal frames to go around a screen of a smart phone or tv.

This year’s Mobile World Congress focused on the feature packed phones, quad core chips (Huawei and HTC), 41 megapixel camera phone (Nokia’s insane Pureview 808), a projection phone (Galaxy Beam) and Asus’ merge of phone and tablet (Padfone). Unfortunately we did not spot any more glimpses of this mobile technology and interaction revolution at hand, but let’s hope we’ll see more of it soon.