Recommended Reading: Myanmar’s Smartphone Revolution

I just read and enjoyed this:

For six weeks in October and November 2015, just before Myanmar held its landmark elections, I joined a team of design ethnographers in the countryside interviewing forty farmers about smartphones. A design ethnographer is someone who studies how culture and technology interact.

Read “Myanmar’s Smartphone Revolution”

I didn’t expect Facebook to hold such a dominant position in people’s lives. There are also some great examples of how routing around infrastructure differences causes completely different usage patterns compared to the US and Europe.

Recommended Reading: Not even wrong – ways to dismiss technology

I enjoyed this article by Benedict Evans, particularly this bit:

In the enterprise, new technology tends to solve existing problems in new ways (or of course solve the new problems created by the new tech). In consumer products, it’s more common to seem to be proposing a change in human behaviour, and so in human desires. You may in some underlying way ‘really’ be replacing an existing behavior in a different way, as Word replaced typewriters and email replaced Word, but that line of reasoning can easily lead you to unfalsifiable assertions when you move up Maslow’s Hierarchy.  ‘Millennials care less about driving because smartphones give them their freedom now’ certainly sounds good, but I have no idea how you could tell if it’s true, far less predict it. This is not a falsifiable analysis. All that you can hold in your hands is that you’re proposing a new human desire, and that’s a subjective view, not the objective analysis one could do of the roadmap for flight in 1903 – worse, it requires a change in your subjective view. You don’t think that you want to listen to music walking down the street, and you don’t think that you want to be able to call anyone from anywhere you might be. The argument for progress here is effectively false consciousness – ‘you think you don’t want this, but you are wrong, and one day you will realise the truth of your own feelings’. But you can’t ever know this – again, you can’t falsify it.

Steven Sinofski made similar observations when writing about platform shifts.

Remembering the First iPhone

I don’t remember much about the original iPhone announcement, back in January 2007. I’m sure it was a momentous keynote and I was thoroughly impressed at the time, but as I said, I don’t remember much of it today.

I do however remember the first time I held an iPhone in my hands and experienced it in the flesh: I was visiting a mobile technology research group in Vienna and they had two new touchscreen devices on hand to try out: the original, first generation Apple iPhone and the LG Prada phone. Superficially the two devices were similar, just as today every modern smartphone is similar to every other modern smartphone: A huge, high quality capacitive touchscreen and no physical hardware keyboard (which were a common fixture on phones at the time).

On first glance the LG Prada phone almost seemed preferable to me, with its elegant, consistent and more restrained visual design language, but when I picked up both phones and started playing around with them, the superiority of the iPhone became immediately obvious: The way it reacted to touches, the immediacy and fluidity of interaction was staggering and unlike anything I had ever experienced in a phone before. At that moment it was obvious to me that Apple had created something in a league of its own, something entirely new, something that defied superficial comparison with other phones on the market. This was the future of smartphones.

I never bought the original iPhone because of limited distribution here in Austria and for its lack of 3G connectivity, but I picked up its successor, an iPhone 3G, as soon as it became available.

Lightform: Augmenting Reality Through Projection

Lightform is an interesting little device: It does automatic mapping for full-room projection mapping, so you can hook it up to a projector and project interfaces anywhere in the room:

The device itself looks a little bit like a Kinect and the whole concept is reminiscent of Microsoft’s RoomAlive, IllumiRoom and Lightspace research projects, which isn’t entirely surprising considering that Lightform was developed by former Microsoft researcher Brett Jones, who worked on the IllumiRoom project.

I rather like the idea of augmenting the real world around us with projections because in a way it turns the traditional idea of augmented reality by wearing heads-up displays on its head. Instead of these individual, private augmented realities you get a shared, public, consensus augmented reality. Kinda like the difference between smartphones and large TVs I suppose.

You can read more about Lightform at Wired and The Verge, and for another take on automated projection mapping see Razer’s Ariana.

Recommended Reading: The first decade of augmented reality

I just read and enjoyed this:

In February 2006, Jeff Han gave a demo of an experimental ‘multitouch’ interface, as a ‘TED’ talk. I’ve embedded the video below. Watching this today, the things he shows seems pretty banal – every $50 Android phone does this! – and yet the audience, mostly relatively sophisticated and tech-focused people, gasps and applauds. What is banal now was amazing then.

Read “The first decade of augmented reality”