The thinking and work that goes into designing a mobile phone

For some, a handset is nothing more than a palm-sized gadget to make calls with. Hwang Sung-gul begs to differ. To him and his team, it is an elegant balance between art and science, human and machine. Hwang Sung-gul, the creative designer of mobile devices at Motorola Korea, talks in an interview with the JoongAng Daily, about the thinking and work that goes into designing a mobile phone.

I don’t think mobile phones are like any other electronic product. For instance, a trend-sensitive woman would buy a handset that matches her style. But would [she] buy a TV that matches her style? I don’t think so.
Like in fashion, there are some timeless trends in mobile phone design – for instance the color black. But just like in fashion, trends come and go quickly in mobile phones. It is important to detect and reflect them.
I think the role design plays is to give people a sense of aspiration. For instance, you’re driving and you see a Mini Cooper. The sight makes you smile. I think that’s the role of design: Helping people relieve stress and make them happy in their daily grind – like looking at someone you love.
I also think design should be human-friendly and human-empowering. For instance, we would very rarely design something asymmetrically because it is people’s basic psychology to look for symmetry.

More: Shedding some light on phone design. Via Putting People First.

MacBook Air Shoulder Sleeve

MacBook Air Shoulder Sleeve
Michael – New MacBook Air 11 & 13 specific cases?
This won’t work for the 11″ but this Shoulder Sleeve from Hardgraft would make a great choice for the 13″. I feature Hardgraft allot (just a few days ago in fact) but I do love their work. The case features a sturdy leather shoulder belt and includes a removable extras case for a power adapter and other incidentals.
Also of note is Vaja’s case and I’m waiting for a response from Malcom Fontier as to whether his The Entertainer Traveler or The Entertainer might work. Autum has a sleeve but I’ll write about that separately.

Bellroy Hide & Seek Wallet

Bellroy has produced a nice little video detailing their excellent Hide & Seek Wallet. Made from vegetable tanned leather the wallet features 4 quick access card slots and a protected section for to hold less used cards and business cards. I like how it hides your bill count from prying eyes.
Bellroy Hide & Seek Wallet.

SIM cards as status symbols

Mobile numbers are becoming a sign of social status in Cambodia, and a new firm aims to collect on the trend by offering SIM cards for up to thousands of dollars.

… demand for SIM cards with “lucky” or “VIP” numbers was coming primarily from the Kingdom’s businessmen, who were keen to portray their wealth.
What constitutes a “VIP” or “lucky” number depends on the customer. Some prefer numbers that are easy to remember, but it is repeating digits in particular that often demand serious cash.
Consumers have come to see certain numbers as a means to demonstrate their individual social status, with the more expensive the number conferring the owner’s social standing.

It’s been a number of years since I’ve seen anyone with a large collection of SIM cards.
SIM cards as status symbols

Linklove: Eating in Bangkok

Bangkok food
Small pieces loosely joined. A curated selection of relevant and noteworthy links worthy of your attention.
Every article I read about food in Thailand wets my appetite for a quick weekend return to one of my favourite places to visit and eat. Not even Taipei can compare to what can be found on and off the streets of Bangkok. Here is what I have been reading lately.

Read, save the addresses to your mobile device of choice and you have the building blocks of an itinerary for your stay.
From the archives.

Dot. The world’s smallest stop-motion animation character shot on a Nokia N8

Professor Fletcher’s invention of the CellScope, which is a Nokia device with a microscope attachment, was the inspiration for a teeny-tiny film created by Sumo Science at Aardman. It stars a 9mm girl called Dot as she struggles through a microscopic world. All the minuscule detail was shot using CellScope technology and a Nokia N8, with its 12 megapixel camera and Carl Zeiss optics.
See more projects and how the ‘Dot’ film was made at or
The Dot concept was developed at Wieden+Kennedy London by creative directors Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth and Scott Dungate, creatives Mark McCall and Richard Dorey, producers Lucy Russel and Lucie Georgeson, account director Natasha Markley.

The story of the crime drama and the cellphone

While this article from the Boston Globe spends much of its time discussing one of the reasons I can’t watch TV crime dramas, their consistent pandering to parents base fears, it’s the commentary on watching mobile device usage that is the most interesting.

… is there anything more irritatingly dull than watching someone else, even a good-looking actor, use a cellphone?
I see no evidence that the shows are protesting the small declines in quality of life that form the downside of the convenience of cellphones. I think it’s more likely that the annoyances associated with cellphones have grown so normal that they’re almost invisible. You so often see in daily life the scenario in which one person abandons another in mid-sentence to chat or tap away on some device, leaving the flesh-and-blood companion to wait for the conversation to finish, that the rudeness and boredom of it barely register anymore. So when actors do it to viewers, it feels like real life, only with better production values.

There is something about seeing it on the big screen that makes you realize how comparatively disruptive it can be. But these representations are seldom current. TV representations of mobile devices are either firmly routed in science fiction or reflect activities that have long since past.
The story of the crime drama and the cellphone

We All Want to Be Young

The movie “We All Want to Be Young” is the outcome of several studies developed by BOX1824 in the past 5 years. BOX1824 is a Brazilian research company specialized in behavioral sciences and consumer trends.
I refuse to grow up.

Phones are like sugar and we all get fat

A tremendous amount of attention has been paid to an article, which appeared recently in the New York Times, about how American kids are stepping up their use of digital devices. I’ve been following studies and reports on the effects of digital devices on cognitive development for some time. The following quote reveals that the real thesis is about behaviour and it’s effects vs. any effects that proper use of these devices might have a students ability to learn.

Allison Miller, 14, sends and receives 27,000 texts in a month, her fingers clicking at a blistering pace as she carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time. She texts between classes, at the moment soccer practice ends, while being driven to and from school and, often, while studying. But this proficiency comes at a cost: She blames multitasking for the three B’s on her recent progress report. “I’ll be reading a book for homework and I’ll get a text message and pause my reading and put down the book, pick up the phone to reply to the text message, and then 20 minutes later realize, ‘Oh, I forgot to do my homework.’

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction
See also:
Disconnecting from Distraction
And iPhone Makes Three: Marriage In The Digital Age
People multitasking with their mobile phones
Cell Phone Culture
Mobile devices and sociability
5 Easy Steps to Breaking Your Cell Phone Addiction
The Impact of Constant Connectivity

Hard Graft Card Case

hardgraft cardcase
This slim wallet has all that those of us who like to carry light need; great looks, size and simple organization. But as much as I love Hard Graft’s work, and the materials they use, I can’t help wondering if their use of wool works with a wallet of this size. Leather would age better and synthetics would last. I’m nitpicking – like all the accessories in their catalogue it looks great.
I’m hoping for their fold wallet for iPhone for Christmas.
Hard Graft Card Case

Behind the scenes: Billykirk

“After you feel one of our bags you just know it’s made right and made well…”
Wonderful behind the scenes video of Billykirk where they talk about the quality and timelessness of their work. You have to have a better understanding good craft after watching this.

QR Code: Facial Codes

Facial QR Codes
‘Facial Codes’ is a series that explores the idea of interactivity in art. Commonly used in Japan, QR Codes are easily decoded at high speed with a scanner in mobile phones. Each code is uniquely different and contains different messages. If you want to figure out the meaning of the codes used in the featured images, just scan them.
Facial Codes is the work of Kamarulzaman Bin Mohamed Sapiee who is currently in his final Year at Republic Polytechnic pursuing a Diploma in Design for Interactivity. Kamarul is part of Transmission Lab, an art incubator between Phunk Studio and LASELLE College of the Arts and had his first art exhibition at the ICAS (The Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore) Gallery.
More on his site. Via Culturepush.

Mobile devices and sociability

Columbia University, sensing that its campus had grown too introverted, in part due to the increased use of mobile devices, this week has tried to encourage casual interactions among students with a game, called “The Social Experiment,” aimed at getting campus strangers to talk to each other. While the results may be mixed, it does illustrate the growing trend of ignoring those around us for those we are connected to via a mobile device.

Sophisticated mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous on college campuses. According to recent data from the Educause Center for Applied Research, about 63 percent of students own Internet-enabled mobile devices, and another 11 percent plan to purchase one within the year. While some have touted the devices as a potential boon for field research and a vehicle for all sorts of useful, campus-based apps for students, a number of professors have fretted about trying to teach perpetually distracted students — especially when their ability to connect to the Internet cannot be shut off by network administrators.
Paul Levinson, a professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University, which shares an urban setting with Columbia, says that the sight of students traversing campus glued to their mobile devices rather than offering hearty salutations to other walkers is not the symptom of social illness. Text-messaging with a friend, he says, is likely to be a more meaningful social experience than exchanging pleasantries with a stranger.
Social media and text-messaging has increased pressure on students to respond hastily to messages from friends, and meeting those expectations is likely to trump saying “hi” to strangers, says Steve Jones, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago. If anything, students who are texting while walking around campus probably have as much of a social life as they can handle. “If you’re already juggling that many social relationships,” he says, “do you really want to talk to strangers and potentially add another friend?”

Read Just Walk on By.

And iPhone Makes Three: Marriage In The Digital Age

NPR addresses the effects of having smartphones, in particular the iPhone, on relationships and marriage. Constant access to information has been a problem for a while but the convenience and fun of the iPhone results in longer and more location diverse usage.

The iPhone appears to be way more addictive than the BlackBerry. Many people wrote that in their spouse’s hands, a BlackBerry wasn’t so much of a distraction. But enter an iPhone, and it’s been very tough to compete. […]
A typical scenario plays out in the South Florida home of Carolyn and Sorin Popescu. With dinner over and the dishes done, the couple might settle in to watch TV. It could be a cozy time to reconnect at the end of the day. That is, if Sorin didn’t have to manage work e-mails on his iPhone — again.
“I would make a reference to something on the TV,” says Carolyn, “and he’d say ‘Huh, what? Oh that’s funny, yeah,’ and put his head back down and keep typing. So, you miss a little bit of closeness that way.”

Sounds familiar.
Read and listen on NPR.