Day: February 11, 2004

  • ETech: Art-of-Logic, Experience Making, the Nokia Way

    Christian Lindholm from Nokia is taking the stage a few minutes late for a talk that should include a demo of some cool blogging stuff.

    What do people need from a mobile device?  It’s hard to find out, because surveys find out what people say they want, not what they want.  Focus groups are another way to find out, but you run in to many of the same problems.  Christian calls these Overt needs.  You can extract data from focus groups by looking at what is actually driving people, not just what they talk about.  Lifestyle studies, analysis, observations, etc help figure out exactly what’s going on.

    Nokia’s product principles.

    Virtuvius: three pillars of architecture: Firmitas (firm, solid, etc), Utilitas (usefulness, utility, usability), and Venustas (beauty etc).  If you don’t address all three, your product will suffer.

    Sullivan: form follows function.  But what drives the function?  What comes before function?  A users needs drive function.

    Convergence is a hot topic.  What are we supposed to do?  Shrink a pc down?  bulk a phone up?  Chopsticks vs. knife and fork.  Forkchops?  Sporkchops?  How silly is that?  Convergence has to make sense.  The smartphone HAS to be operated one handed.  It’s a big thing.  That way you’re not spending all of your resources computing, you can be living and computing at the same time.  He was talking about this a bit on the way back from dinner the other night.  (There’s a plce for two handed devices (ala Communicator, Series 90, etc), but for smartphones, gotta be one handed.

    The intersection of functionality, form, and context is user delight.

    For example, usability for the older phones was a big issue.  Do you go for something that is efficient or understandable?  Or do you go for readability on a small device?  Or do you go for beautiful with graphics and icons and stuff?  Nokia did their best to incorporate and compromise.  That is the Nokia Way.

    Christian has a case study.  There’s a really good book called Mobile Usability.  I flipped through it earlier, and it looks quite good.  Here’s a case study: the digital Kazu.  Kazu is a person and also Japansese for balance.  He carried a notebook around with him and just wrote all kinds of stuff in it.  Timeframe: 1994.  He misplaced his book, and freaked out.  One day Christian wanted to build an electronic version of it.  He was using a Newton at the time and was quite happy with it, but alas.

    5 years later, the book is an annotated scrapbook, with notes, pictures, clippings, etc.  The book as evolved.  The book was a legacy.  A sort of self blog.  Around 98 a trend was spotted: digital cameras, internet, multimedia, content explosion, lots to keep track of.

    Who was driving this trend?  Younger people, socializing, nomatic, living in the now.  Another group was the family centric recorders.  Recording kids, events, everything.  Nokia started attacking this problem back in ’98.  They did tons of research on GPS tracking, trails, facial recognition, moving the web to mobiles.  But the devices didn’t have enough MIPS.  They test and analyze things thoroughly.

    Design Comcept A was PC based, allowed you to record and review your data.  Four views: patchwork, single view, matchmaker, and slide show.  Design Concept B was a revolving sushi bar.  Have things fly by you and pick out bits when you need them.  Organize by a more organic timeline rather than so linear.  Design Concept C takes little moments in to consideration.  Storing different moments in your life.  Pictures, text, audio, video.

    They took the brain from A, heart from B and clothes from C.  It’s another compromise, another integration.  Together it’s a sexy concept app.  It could be groundbreaking.  It’s personal blogging, note taking, annotation, and more.  It’s presented in a unique way with a UI for your phone and a UI for your PC.  A PC has almost infinite storage capability from a mobile guy’s perspective.  It ends up being a two way multiplatform solution for managing your personal content.

    Buzzword compliance: It’s ubiqutious.  Your phone is with you all the time.  Wallet, keys, and phone.  Your PC at home is your archive or your log.  It’s trusted.  (Make sure you back it up!)  The web is your universal place for sharing.  You of course need to be able to sync across all three platforms.

    I really hope that this app (or one much like it) makes it out of the lab and in to our lives.  Here’s a closer shot of the current concept user interface:

  • ETech: Any Time, Anywhere: High Speed Mobile Data Technology Overview

    I’m back in real-time notetaking at the moment.  I’ll catch up on the notes taken with a text editor earlier.

    Rob Gilmore from Via Telecom is talking about upcoming mobile data tech.  I’ve had spotty access to my VPN, and don’t feel comefortable sending passwords in the clear over wireless, especially with all of the sniffing going on.

    Rob is going over the current cellular technology, such as CDMA, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, and the current/near-term stuff CDMA20001x, 1xEV-DO, and WCDMA  Of the latter group, WCDMA is nowhere to be found in the US, but is all over Europe, Japan, and Oceania.  1xEV-DO can pull down up to 1.5Mbit down, though only 64kbit up.  That’s going to be a huge crutch, just as current GPRS/EDGE is optimized for download, and if you want to send data, you’ve got a small pipe.

    Anywhere/anytime is the Next Big Thing.  There are some technical hurdles that still need to be worked out.  Korea is expected to get 1xEV-DV by the end of 2004.  1xEV-DO will be upgraded to address the lower reverse link in the near future.

    Cellular and WLAN (think: Multiradio) working together is going to be big.  You might be able to use WLAN to supplement your data services when it is available, possibly by connecting hot spots into hot zones.  A business model needs to be figured out for this to happen though.  Operators need to make money in order for it to be worth their while.  I would love it if my cel phone would use local WLAN instead of GPRS for data if it is available (both present and billable).

    Right now range and interference are two big things holding back 802.11 from being more useful.  We’re suffering through that right now, with 802.11b, 802.11g, and Bluetooth all fighting for our computers’ attention.

    802.11n could be the next big thing.  It’s still quite immature tech, but could offer greater than 100Mbit throughput to the user (rather than the usual speeds which include overhead)  MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennae might make this possible.  It’s going to require a lot of signal processing though.  It would occupy one WLAN channel, and be in compliance with the 802.11 standards.  One access point could speak 802.11a/b/g/n.

    WLAN and 3G roaming.  It’s possible using Mobile IP.  Technical hurdles include handoff, security, billing, etc.  Mobile IP allows for this, but the infrastructure isn’t there yet.  Using Mobile IP, you would have a home agent located at home, which would maintain the location for each of your mobile, and hand off to 3G if neccesary.  A Mobile IP foreign agent wold facilitate roaming.

    The slides are flying by too quickly to write it all, but the devices would talk to a foreign agent, which would communicate with the home agent, and would work out connectivity.

    WMAN is another possibility for future high bandwidth access.  802.16 is Line-of-Site, which could offer between 2-155Mbit.  802.16a supports mesh, and can go 75Mbit and is non-line-of-site.  Obligatory mention of the last mile.  DSL-like services, interconnecting WLANs, etc.

    802.16e is another standard that might help out mobility.  It is based on 802.16a and aimed at carrying signals for PDAs and laptops.

    802.20 is packet based, and greated that 1Mbit with a radius of 15km.

    Next up, CDMA the next generation.  1xEV-DV (data and voice), and 1xEV-DO (data optimized) are two ways of going about it.  EV-DV does both but has to optimize voice and data differently.  I love this technology.  CDMA is like time-sharing revisited.

    EV-DV (which is fun to say) has a single 1.25MHz bandwidth share between voice and data.  It’s 3.1Mbps peak download.  The scheduling is very complex.  Voice users are usually scheduled first.  Dynamic allocation of the unused basestation power is then distributed to data users.  This makes doing multiple things on one channel quite easy.  The second rev of EV-DV (Rel D) will significantly increase the upload (reverse link) bandwidth.  Subsiquently, the next rev of EV-DO (Rel A) will increase the reverse link to up to 1.5Mbit peak.

    The EV-DV scheduler is really really complex.  Really complex.

    CDMA is really complex too.  I miss GSM.

    It will be interesting to see how things pan out EV-DV vs. EV-DO.  EV-DV seems to have its advantages, but EV-DO is here now.  EV-DV has a smoother upgrade path from IS-2000, whereas EV-DO requires new antennae, hardware, etc.

    EV-DO is due for upgrades soon (in a month or two), and EV-DV has upgrades coming out, even though it’s not even here yet.  Via is working hard on EV-DV.  1xEV-DV is due out in Q4 2004, and in the US test trials may start by the end of the year.  EV-DV might be in place en masse by 2005-2006.

    EV-DV headsets will be made by Nokia, samsung, LG with chipsets by Qualcomm, TI, and VIA.

    This presentation has been quite informative, but acronyms abound.

  • ETech: Catalyzing Collective Action on the Net

    The first keynote of the morning was by Marc Smith, a sociologist at Microsoft Research,  Marc had some excellent visualizations for the data collected from Netscan, which scans and archives tons of data and metadata about usenet newsgroups.  As a sociologist, he is quite interested in graphing, visualizing, and interpreting conversations and relationships as they happen across Usenet.

    Marc discussed Schelling Points, or obvious places that people go in order to meet certain people.  Schelling Points can be complex and quite interesting when you throw the net into the mix.  Another important concept that he looked at was Yhprum’s law.  Yhprum’s law (Murphy spelled backwards) is that systems that should not work but often do.  This happens quite a bit online.

    Usenet is not well, but it’s not dead either.  Last year 240 million messeges were sent by 8.5 unique identities.  Netscan has collected about a billion headers, and Marc showed several ways of visualizing the data.  First up was a tree view of all of usenet, showing growth and decay in certain areas over time.  It was quite interesting, and quite trippy at the same time.

    He also visualized the difference between between a tech support style group with say alt.politics.bush.  The number of posters, their frequencies, and the number of threads that they used were strikingly different.

    Another interesting visualization was tracking one user over time.  You can generate a sort of histogram with the data and tell quite a bit about a users’ habits at a glance.  One type of user was one that never initiates a thread, but adds to threads all the time.  This is the answer person.  They

    Marc also discussed mobile machine readble tags.  It’s quite interesting tech, tho identical to a presentation given at Foo Camp.  More information can be found at the Aura site.