Design for Mobile: Future of Mobile UX

by Luke Wroblewski September 21, 2010

In his opening keynote at the Design for Mobile conference in Chicago IL,. Jonathan Brill discussed several future scenarios for mobile user experience and their potential. Here's my notes from his talk:

  • The future of mobile isn’t on the phone. It requires being aware of environments. People are more than an eyeball and a finger.
  • Four scenarios on what happens after touch: video everywhere, screens and personal devices, super mobile, and mobile and personal devices interacting.
  • Video everywhere: interactions can happen everywhere because the cost of developing video displays keeps going down. But while display material is cheap, the hardware and components required to run interfaces on displays currently is not.
  • Screens and personal devices: experiences and tasks that move across several screens. This relies on the idea that things need work with the same standards.
  • Super mobile: with cloud computing your mobile device can become incredibly powerful. It took 800k machine hours to create Toy Story. Now you can do it in five minutes on the cloud. Cloud computing accounts for 1-2% of growth of national energy footprint. It's the largest growth on the grid right now.
  • Mobile and personal devices interacting: example –Nike plus and near field communication between devices.
  • These four scenarios are starting to come into existence. But for any of this to happen: design, hardware, and software needs to be more tightly integrated.
  • We have to move from training users to predicting them. Make devices respond to users instead of the reverse.
  • This has a big impact on process: The timeline between documentation and production has closed up. Documentation, production, and users have now come together. Designers are no longer working with a pre-defined set of tasks. But on ecosystem development. Where the feature set is unknown and is shaped by user behavior and involvement.
  • We need to design for where users are. The reality is phones are mostly inappropriate devices in many contexts. Be aware of environment. There are massive blocks of time where phones are unsafe for people to use. In the future, most mobile devices won’t be phones.
  • Tasks need to occur across multiple devices. The environment is as important as what’s on the display. Computers need to filter, process and deliver relevant content and feedback.
  • Customer ecosystem –how do people spend their time? What are they interested in? When Brill started off as a designer, thinking about customers meant: color palette. Now it's understanding how/where they spend time.
  • What Brill is focused on now: Multi-display/device interaction, 3D and gestural interfaces, glasses 3D display, Radios in things besides phones, positional and visual search.
  • Voice recognition, roll-up displays, and mesh networks have been “three years away” for a long time now.
  • When investigating, predicting, developing new technologies, laughter and delight signal a business opportunity.