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The Carnival of Mobilists, a rotating weekly posting of mobile-related blog articles, mentions us as a blog to check out. Carnival #150 includes a big collection of interesting articles - well worth the read. This week’s Carnival is hosted by Mippin Blog.

Crowdsourcing: Using Mobile Data for Real-Time Traffic Reports

Ever noticed that so-called ‘real-time traffic’ sometimes isn’t? Wondering if there is a better way to use traffic data to get to your destination efficiently? The Mobile Millennium project aims to solve these problems, at least for the San Francisco Bay Area. The project is the result of a collaboration between Nokia, NAVTEQ, and UC Berkeley. Put simply, Mobile Millennium uses mobile phone location and speed data from thousands of participating users to deduce traffic levels for Bay Area roadways.

Mobile Millennium represents a handy and appropriate use of ‘Crowdsourcing‘. It demonstrates how mobile devices can send useful data back into the cloud, not just communicating through it.  The fact that users can benefit directly from their own collaboration creates a strong incentive to participate, which should make it easier to distribute the technology among the local population.

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Let’s just go ahead and get the Apple items out of the way…

// iPhone 3G speed issues

If your ‘twice as fast’ iPhone 3G isn’t - you’re not alone. No official word from Apple yet, but a number of interesting theories out there. Wired has a pretty good rundown of the prevailing notions, including an interactive map showing upload and download speeds at different locations.

// More Mobile Video Streaming

Mobile video streaming company Flixwagon has released an app similar to Qik for 3G iPhone, but only for jailbroken devices. Here’s hoping Apple eventually opens the door for more applications like this that access currently verboten parts of the iPhone functionality - clearly developers feel there’s a demand but that’s not to say they are abandoning iPhone app development for Android….

// Android Issues

On the contrary, it appears developers increasingly favor Apple’s devices, due to flaws with Android. Apparent favoritism on Google’s part coupled with new competition from the open-sourcing of Symbian have certainly contributed to developers’ doubts about Android, but we’re not convinced this will result in much of a shift in developer priorities. We expect to see multiple players in this field for a while yet. And with clear suggestions T-Mobile will launch an Android device this year, it’s definitely too soon to write any Android epitaphs.

The rest of the news…

// iKitchen?

Miele’s showing a kitchen concept with a touchscreen on one side and a stovetop on the other. Looks intriguing but you definitely want to remember which side of the range you’re on. Take a look at this hypermodern design (and a bonus image of what looks like a phone being cooked).

// Braille Camera Concept

Unfortunately it’s just a concept for now, but this camera with 3D braille display is a really interesting idea. Not only that, but the associated research mentioned (around displays for the blind and how the blind judge distance) provides some fascinating hints at how perception and cognition may differ for those who cannot rely on sight.

// More Non-Food Uses for Corn

Samsung has introduced an ‘eco-friendly’ phone whose case is entirely made of bioplastic, and Nokia has also announced plans for ‘green’ phones as well. Another Samsung device reportedly notifies the user when it is fully charged to avoid wasting extra electricity. Clearly we still need to develop environmentally friendly materials that don’t impact the world food supply so dramatically, but this is still a step in the right direction.

// New Intel PCs Wake Up for Phone Calls

Intel just announced new PCs that can wake up from a sleep state to receive internet phone calls. Current PCs have to be fully on (thus drawing more power) in order to receive these calls. This removes a significant obstacle to computers as a viable phone communication medium.

// Fingerprint Biometrics Come to Mobile

Atrua Technologies just announced a partnership with Lenovo to bring to market the first commercial mobile phone with fingerprint technology built in. This extends a technology already used in laptops to the mobile space, but this solution uses less power, memory and processing power.

// Microsoft Provides More Information About the Sphere

Microsoft has provided a new movie of their Sphere concept, providing a bit more perspective about what the interface will do. While it’s an interesting new form for interaction, it’s not yet tied to any application so compelling it has to be made. As several commenters have pointed out, this device may get more interesting when combined with other technologies, like eye-tracking (providing full 3D for one viewer) or holographic imagery within a more transparent dome. So far - just not exciting enough for prime time.

It’s fitting that the name of this blog is in reference to this very idea — that users would benefit from at-a-glance information at the idle screen that doesn’t require interaction. The iPhone’s default UI makes no real attempt at putting the idle screen to use.

If you’re like me (and I recognize many folks aren’t) you like the idea of having quick summary info at the top level of your iPhone experience. In other words, you’re way too lazy to go through several siloed applications just to find out what the weather is like and when your next meeting is. You want that stuff at a glance. This widget proposes to give you that at-a-glance look from the idle screen of your (jail-broken) iPhone.

Kudos to Intelliscreen for making it happen.

Get Intelliscreen’s iPhone Widget at ModMyiFone

Peter Odum

Convergent Experiences, Divergent Devices

Punchcut Convergence is sometimes viewed as the consolidation of multiple technologies towards a singular über-device. I prefer to view convergence as the tendency of technologies, as they grow in complexity and scope, to overlap and consolidate functions. Convergence is a trend wherein devices and functions take on commonly shared traits, but this doesn’t mean that this trend ultimately ends with a single, multi-functional mega-device, no matter how cool and ‘mad scientist’ that might sound. Product mobility, technical innovation, component obsolescence, and proprietary ownership of certain functions are among the many forces that will ensure we continue to interact with ecosystems of related and overlapping devices rather than a single device with every function built in.

But, convergence as a concept illustrates how interaction design for devices is changing. As our devices advance, they are often consolidating functions previously reserved for separate devices. Examples of this can be seen in most modern devices, from mobile phones (which serve as PDAs, calculators, mini-computers, and portable game consoles as well as communication devices) to Media Center PCs (which serve as DVR, stereo music player, and digital picture frame as well as a standard personal computer).

With all this in mind, I’m offering up 7 considerations to use when designing interactions for converged devices.

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