Mobile Collar






Mobile Collar

Jason Tseng

Niplus777@gmail.com

Abstract

In this paper I will discuss the pervasive awkwardness and tensions brought by the omnipresent usage of mobile phone, and propose some simple solutions to these phenomena.

As technology progresses, mobile phone developers tend to integrate increasingly more new features and functions such as cameras, touch screens, mp3 players or the capability to connect to the internet, into current cell-phones, but very little efforts have been made into reviewing the psychological aspect of the users and the emerging emotional needs caused by this relatively new form of communication. Although there is a lot of research focusing on the social phenomena and social impact brought by mobile phones, the results seem to have very little influence upon the development of the cell-phone.

My project conducted an “urban probe” approach to do the user research and highlight the most often seen emotional needs pervading mobile communication processes, mainly focusing on the process of “using cell phones to talk”, taking a micro perspective toward the process itself and propose “mobile collar”, a multi-functional device that provides the pre-interaction possibility to the users, as the solution of those emotional needs. Hopefully by doing so, I can provide different thoughts for the future mobile-phone development.

Introduction

Having our mobile phone with us nowadays is not an option for most people anymore. We have to have our cell-phones with us in order to be reachable to our families, friends and business associates, otherwise people would consider us “inconsiderate” and “hard to keep in touch with”. Even kids bring their phones with them to ease the anxiety level of their parents and to alleviate the concerns that they might be “kidnapped” or “in danger”.

However, while people take the presence of their cell-phones for granted, the “side effects” emerge in many different ways. The issue I’m going to talk about is mainly inherent in the process of “using cell-phones to talk”. My main interest is how people conform themselves to the technology and thus, create awkwardness and frustrations in the communicational process. Based on the results of my user survey, I proposed a “pre-interaction” gadget as the solution of this phenomenon. By providing possible solutions to the problematic scenarios, my intention is not only to propose a new gadget that could deal with the pervasive “mobile awkwardness”, but also to arouse people’s awareness of the their emotional needs toward mobile phone usage.

Concept

The options we have when our phones ring are extremely limited: either to pick up and talk or reject the call. It may seem stupid to even argue about the options we have for someone who takes this fact for granted, nevertheless, if we look at the inherent differences between human beings and computers carefully, it will be clear why this is an issue.

As human beings, the way we communicate is analog, which means we have many different layers while interact with others. For example, when we run into someone on the street, we may say hello, hug this person, shake hands, nod to him, or ignore him. Each option, again, has many different levels to send different messages, like saying hello in a passionate tone or saying hello in an antiseptic way. Not to mention we can easily come up with more options in this scenario. On the other hand, when it comes to how computers work, it’s all about digital, which means 1 or 0; yes or no. Despite the fact that we can give computer orders to enable it to react in different manners to different conditions, the essence of the smart machine is still digital. There is no ambiguity inherent in computers, which is probably a good feature in many cases. But in the case of current cell-phone design, I found the digital feature of answering a phone quite problematic. The interesting content of “example of mobile phone anti-social behavior” contest (Jan Chipchase 2008), in which Jan Chipchase asks people to post their most “anti-social mobile behavior” on his blog is a good demonstration of how universal these awkward experiences are. People around the world submitted their frustrated (yet entertaining) experiences of how they suffer from the limited options provided by cell-phones in many different ways, but in the mean time, because of the importance of it, they tend to bear with it and try to ignore the inconveniences and the problems.

Here I divided the behavior of using a mobile phone into two different segments to simplify and organize the problems: Making a call / Answering a call. In each category I will describe briefly the problematic scenario and also provide my thoughts regarding potential solutions. It is not to say that these scenarios contain all the problems we are facing, but these are the pin points that I found haven’t been dealt with too much.

Making a call: One of the most commonly seen problems of mobile phones is that they ring at inappropriate times or situations. For instance, it could be when someone is in an important meeting or in the middle of a funeral. Once this happens, it can cause tensions in the environment and create anger and awkwardness between people and their surroundings. It is now a social protocol to turn your phone off or at least into vibrate mode when the surroundings are not suitable for picking up a call, and we tend to blame anyone, even strangers, who do not obey these social rules by staring and other non-verbal body-movements.( 02). However, in our daily lives, the times that one should switch his cell phone on/off happens frequently. It is human nature to forget and make mistakes.

When making calls, the callers tend to assume the receiver is picking up the calls all the time. Thus the results of disconnection or rejections cause frustration. The waiting process inherent in making calls makes callers anxious because of the uncertainty of the result. In the last chapter of Howard Rheingold’s “Smart Mobs”, the author noted:

“The intervention of digital technology into social relationship carries another danger: People may start reacting to mechanical artifacts as if they were reacting to people, and badly designed communication devices may cause people to blame each other for the shortcomings of their machines.

Answering call:

The same problem lies in the answering process: when our phones ring, the limited option of Yes and No (pick up or reject a call) ignores some subtle emotional needs we have. For example, what if you want to take the important incoming call you are having but you need a little bit of extra time, say 20 seconds, to prepare yourself? The answer is that you might miss the call if you do so, because the caller might lose his/her patience and give up, which sometimes could damage your opportunity or even career. Or what if you have to reject an incoming call but in the mean time you want to give the caller an assurance that you got it and will call him/her back as soon as possible? Another need is that people don’t want the callers to know that they are rejecting the call because it is considered rude, so they just ignore the call. However, a lot of people don’t really know how to mute the ring without rejecting the call, which makes the “wait until the caller hangs up” period painful and awkward. In these situations, we suffer from the rigid form of mobile communication. The current technology in use ignores these potential needs and causes inconvenience and frustration. The tendency to ignore emotional needs is similar in the telephone answering system. The frustration comes from the rigid response, and commands from the computer; (press 1 if you…), which hinders you from talking to a customer service person. In both cases we have to conform ourselves to the limited options and “act as setting”. “In other words, the technical opportunity to become friendlier is also an opportunity to become unfriendly at a more decisive level………..What I wanted, in a direct sense, was relief from the (technological) disruption “ (03)

The main reason for this problem is that under the constraint of limited options, we have no way to express ourselves before picking up / hanging up a call. The lack of direct interaction causes both sides (the caller and the receiver) anxiety. The caller doesn’t know whether if the receiver rejected the call simply because it was not a good time or if it was because the receiver forgot to bring his phone. The receiver, on the other hand, has no way to tell the caller either “just a minute, I will pick it up” or “yes, I got it, I will call you ASAP, which is exactly what I want to propose: add these options. By providing either the assuredness of picking up or calling back, the direct interaction between both sides can help demolishing the uncertainty and thus comfort the anxiety level.

Related Work

Below are some projects that are related to my field of interest. Although the directions of each project are diverse, all of them were more or less dealing with the emotional needs of human beings in the digitalized communication. Instead of providing more practical features, this project proposed some not-yet seen features in response to their observations towards a human’s non-obvious emotional needs. By talking through briefly about each project, I will highlight how these ideas are similar and different from mine.

James Auger, Jimmy Loizeau, Stefan Agamanolis, 2003, Iso-phone: a total submersion telephonic experience


This project focuses on sensing the conversation and experiencing the human-to-human communication through mobile phones. The intention, according to the authors, is to “examine how tele-communications might exist from a perspective that priorities quality of experience over the design industry’s blinkered notion of efficiency, often represented in multi-modal, omnipresent services and portable products.” Although the end result of their project is more like a scenario than an actual proposal for future development, the main argument (human emotional needs’ priorities in current design) is strongly related to my on-going project. The main difference between this project and mine is that they focused on dealing with the “lost intimacy” in the telecommunication process. My project is more focus on dealing with the pervasive but being ignored emotional needs inherent in the telecommunication process and is in a more particle form.

Jenny Chowdhury, 2005 The popularity Dialer

This project is well-recognized on the internet, the intention is enable you to order a fake phone call at a particular time to feel important, avoid a contact, or plan an excuse through their service. It worked exactly in the field that I am working on. The importance of the emotional need is highly emphasized. Actually this project is exactly why I pull off the “When in need” section while categorized the problem. It was even more popular than the authors have expected and became a service on-line until FCC ban their business. I think the popularity of this project validate my argument. Although this project stands at the same stance at which my project is standing on, the approaches we took are very different. My project is more like a product design proposal when this project is a service system. Also the choices of which state of the phone usage process our projects trying to deal with are different.

Social Mobile

They claim their motivation on the index page of their website “we are interested in the frustration and anger caused by other people’s mobile phone”. Although it put a strong emphasis on the social aspect and invented five whole new different types of mobile, the argument on emotional needs should be dealt with is strongly connected to my concept. Their scenarios showed the same awareness of how technology shapes our behaviors, and this project took it further by utilizing it.

Methodology

The first iteration of my project was taking an “Culture Probes” approach to get to understand my target audience better. Although almost everyone uses mobile phone nowadays, I consider the target audience of my project is people at their 18-35, students or professional workers that constantly have class times or meetings. The main reason is that the frequency they have to turn on/off their phones is relatively higher then people in other age ranges, which makes observing their behavior more valuable than others.

In order to understand my potential users better, I needed to understand their attitude toward mobile phones. Also I wanted to find out what were the most common mobile phone problems they have. So I put up an event on Facebook, asked people to provide their most awkward mobile phone usage experiences by free writing (I asked them just to comment on the message board) form, they can either tell their personal awkward experiences or just saying what they like or dislike about their cell phones.

I sent out 98 invitations to the users group and got 32 people provided their feedbacks. Most of them were personal experiences. The interesting part is the patterns in these different stories:

l Bad timing calls and the lack of immediate control of the ringing phones: the later one actually make the first one worse in many cases: when people have to fish their phones while having bad timing calls, that “trying to find it” period of time is the most awkward.

l People feel obligated to answer the incoming calls: in some cases, they picked up when they shouldn’t have, for example, while on toilets, which lead to the leak of information and thus created some awkward situations.

l Not enough control of information: as mentioned above, the leak of information could causes awkwardness. On the other hand, the lack of information could also cause problems. Some people’s awkward experiences are about they wanted to communicate to the caller without picking up the calls. For example, a girl wrote about how she wanted to warn her boyfriend that her mother was around, so she changed the manner in which she talked while seeing the incoming call from him. But she couldn’t, so the conversation ended up becoming really awkward.

Another probe I took was asking people to stop using their mobile phones for 3 days. The intention was to see people’s attitude toward their phones, and to see what kind of role mobile phones play in our daily lives. I asked 34 people to do this, most of them are college or graduate students at Parsons. Interestingly, almost all of them refused the proposal to stop using their phones for three days right away. Some even said they never turn their phones off even when sleeping, so there is no way they can stop using their phones for three days. I then addressed another question to those said no: How many calls you make / get a day? To my surprise, the most common answer was 3-5 calls, which is not many at all. People don’t get as many calls as they think they might. Although most people only receive 5 calls a day, most people would refuse to live without mobile phones. At the end, I found three people that volunteered to give up using their phone for 3 days. I asked them to keep a note on what they found different in their daily lives without phones, and interviewed them afterwards.

G:\Photos\2008-05-03-1905-28\IMG_1177.jpg

Combine with the earlier observations, the patterns I found through this probe are listed below:

l People mentally rely on mobile phones. They like the concept of “having the option to make emergency calls”.

l For some not so heavy users, not having their phones with them is fine, but if their contacts stop bringing their phones with them, it will drive them crazy. That shows how people see mobile phone as accesses to others. I consider that as an important reason for people to want their phones with them all the time: to have accesses to other people.

l According to my three participants, they all mentioned while not having their phones with them, how they felt about how time changed: they all felt time seemed to flow slower. I think that represents how technology can shape our lifestyles and effect how we feel about our lives.

Giving all the results from the probes, I found that the main problem is the lack of control. We don’t have enough control of our mobile phones either mentally or physically. Also, due to the rigid form provided by current technology, we don’t have enough control of the information. Another interesting thing is that people tend to think it’s the receivers’ full responsibility to control their phones instead of the callers’ responsibility to call at the right time.

Implementation

Considering the result of my user probes, I decided to propose a gadget that provides pre-interaction functions and enables the users to gain more control of their mobile phones. The gadget would look like a wrist watch and has three buttons on it. Basically it works like a remote of your mobile phone. Each button has different function but they all mute your ringing phone right away to help you avoid the potential awkwardness brought by the ring-tones. ( so you don’t have to fish for it.)

The yes (O) button will give the caller an immediate assurance that shows on the caller's screen, that says: "hey, please hold on for 15 sec, I will pick up this call, just need a sec". In the mean time by delaying the actual talk, the receiver is allowed to be prepared of the delay. The no (X) button will reject the call, but also send a message to the caller says" hey, I got it but its not a great time for me. I'll call u back ASAP". By actual reacting to the button, the receiver can give the caller a sense of assurance, also preventing himself from being rude and just declining the call. The ignore (-) button just simply mute the call, allows the users to pretend they didn't get the calls.

With these pre-interaction features, the users ( the receivers) can interact with the callers before the conversations actually happen. The callers also get real-time feedbacks so they won’t be as anxious as they might be. In another words, both sides(caller and the receiver) can be less anxious.

To illustrate this concept better, I made two video scenarios; one is about how the reject button can help a professional worker avoiding the awkwardness in his surrounding (which is an important meeting) and the tension between his caller (which is his inpatient wife); another is about how the answer button can helped giving a freelance programmer more time to prepare himself taking a VIP’s call.

Evaluation and Future Development

To see if my design clicked on the users, I held a focus group and designed a questionnaire asking the potential users would they want to use the gadget; and if this was an actual product, would they buy it; how they feel about the functionalities and the appearance; what they would want to change or add…etc.
8 of 13 participants said they would buy the gadget and like the functionalities of it. However, 4 of them mentioned that they want to make it smaller and modify the buttons a bit. By observing their reactions and asking them questions, I found that my proposal clicked on the heavy users who have already been suffering from their phone behaviors the most. 2 of them (Jia, 27,Rohini,25, graduate students)got very excited right after my introduction of the gadget and said “ yeah, that’s what I need”, also a professional worker(Mark, 29, project Manger) said he has been wanting his phone to have this kind of function so he can provide his clients more a sense of assurance for a long time . On the other hand, those 5 who said they wouldn’t use it are people who have more distant relationships with their cell phones. They always turn their phones into vibrate mode, they don’t check their phone every hour, and they don’t care about their phones as much as those who would use the gadget. One of the participants (Kenneth 29, designer) just simply put “ I just don’t use my phone that much, I don’t need this”. One common feedback I got is that people were hesitated to wear another accessory, and they asked if this gadget could be in other forms. Another feedback I have is that people asked if they can customized their own message to adapt to different situations and their personal tastes. While considering the future development of this project, these feedbacks are really valuable.

Overall, I think my proposal does have its merit for people who have problems controlling their phones, especially for those heavy users. By dealing with some of the non-obvious emotional needs we have, the functions I proposed here can alleviate the anxiety level and decrease certain degree of awkwardness, which are what I was shooting for at the first place. However, to develop this project to the next stage, for example, to the field of product design, I definitely need to do more research and iteration on the look and feel side of prototyping. Another possible field for the future development of this project is critical design. The rough idea I have for now is to change the form of the gadget from wrist watch to collar, make people actually wear this device on their neck and push each other’s button. I presume that will change people’s feelings toward this project dramatically. But at the same time I think it will also change the focus of the project. For now the simple pre-interaction gadget is aiming on providing more control and options to our emotional needs. Hopefully I can take it further in the future.

Reference: lists

Websites

01

l Jan Chipchase 2008 “mobile phone anti-social behavior” event, http://www.janchipchase.com/blog/archives/2008/02/monday_morning.html#comments

Books

02

l Barry Brown, Nicola Green, and Richard Harper (Eds) 2002,Wireless World: social and interact ional aspect of the mobile age

03

Steve Talbot, 2007 Devices of the soul”

04

l Howard Rheingold, 2002, Smart Mobs

Articles

05

l Anthony Dunne, 1999, Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience and Critical Design.

06

l James Auger, Jimmy Loizeau, Stefan Agamanolis, 2003, Iso-phone: a total submersion telephonic experience

07

3D Lighting Note

Lighting I
What is light?
Types of lights in Maya
Light properties and controls
3-point lighting
Framing your shot
Light linking



1. What is light?
This is an ancient question, something we encounter everyday from the moment we open our eyes, from the first moment weÕre born.
The essence of light is that it is a form of energy. Being a form of energy means that it follows one of the major laws of physics, mainly the law of conservation of energy. This law states that energy is never created nor destroyed. Energy is converted from one form to another.

Physics has two models to describe the behavior of light. There is the wave model and the particle model. They are both equally valid, and the details are not too important in our treatment of light, although for our purposes the particle model is the predominant model used in computer graphics.



Notes:
Light decay
Color of light
Diffuse and specular
Kelvin scale
Light travels in parallel rays in the particle model

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for class 2/12/08

cookies
3 point lighting

The visual function of shadows
define spacial relationships

reveal alternate angles - profile of character

enhancing composition

adding contrast

indicating off screen space - cookies

Integrating elements

Which lights needs shadows
shadow clutter

secondary shadows

Shadow color

testing shadows

Shadow size and perspective

Shadow algorithms
depth map shadows
resolution and memory use
depth map framing -- look through camera -- light with big cone angle poor shadow map, tight angle, tight shadow

Depth map bias and self-shadow artifact
banding pattern, increase/raise bias to remove banding artifact
fixing light leeks with bias set too high

transperancy support

raytrace shadows
how raytrace shadow work
trace depth

hard and soft shadows

hard and soft light
soft shadows with depth maps
array of lights
light dome

soft raytraced shadows
area lights
light radius
mimic area light

sampling
turn up shadow samples or shadow rays to soften noise

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UV mapping
specifics for next weeks assignment:
- your scene must have camera that you render through, that is not the perspective camera (or any orhtographic cameras).
- That camera must be locked in place for your renders (I should be able to open up your scene, hit the render button, and get relatively the same render as what you turn in)
- size should be 1024x1024 (1K square in the presets of the render globals)
- light 3 different times of day or weather situation (cloudy/overcast, in a room at dusk, outside in a picnic, etc)
- don't be afraid of moving things around, but keep all the elements in there.
- all surfaces should be a assigned a shader/material other than the default Lambert
- Don't be afraid to rebuild or crate substitute geometry (The orange for instance).
- At the beginning of class I will inform you that I'm about to download files from the server. If you're maya project and renders are not in there, clearly labeled, it will be counted as late.


Introduction and project overview
Introduction to the Maya's UV Texture Editor
Getting Familiar with the Planar Mapping
Exploring Cylindrical Mapping
Exploring Spherical and Automatic Mapping
Getting Started with Multiple Projections
Sewing UVs Together
Moving the UV Data from the polygon model to the original sub-d monster


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wooden crate/shading 1

weathering
integration
grime/dirt
reality isn't perfect

first put logo on

luminance -- adjust level first and make higher contrast to remove parts of the logo

-- first layer of weathering

use repeating damage from grime pattern

-- use channel as selection to weather more

where did all the paint go?

take logo and smudge down...use same weathering on smudging
lower opacity, and change to overlay

next displace to make paint look like it's seeped into the grain

need a map with contrast on crevices of wood board, the rest is grey so it doesn't get pushed. It's a subtle effect, but makes a difference.

rest of wood is too clean...need to dirty it up some
-- add some spattering
--add soft layer of dirt
--edges is usally darker and dirt getting caught there
-- use adjusted, inverted channel from wood grain, mask out center and feather it, then use grime selection to remove some dirt and mult over

Then make bigger square, and apply same treatment to get narrow edge

extracting textures from images (label on crate)
convert to greyscale and adjust greyscale to be able to multiply

plank textures


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3/03 Camera Properties Ð Rendering!

- Fundamental properties
bad camera work (or cinematography) can ruin an other wise good story or image
- camera
- camera aim
- camera aim and up

- the lens is the optical component of a real camera, it redirects (bends) the light onto the film to create an image. The nature of the bending of the light is dependent on the type of glass, the thickness, the curvature of the glass, etc.

-focal length - distance in mm from the center of the lense to the film plane
normal 30-55 (human eye, is about 50mm), telephoto >55, wideangle <28
-clipping planes
-near/far
-show manipulator
-show interactive movement
-auto render clip plane (-1 0)
-z depth pass in render globals

- output settings (make camera renderable!) -- watch out for multiple renderable cameras in your scene
- Environment - background color
-image planes! what fun

- film back
o film gate, film back and film
o square v. non-sq pixels
o camera aperture Ð fstop in real camera Ð size of the opening of the camera, and thus the amount of light that can enter in to the lens
¥ The larger the fstop, the smaller the opening (less light goes in)
o Shutter speed is the time it takes for the shutter to completely open and close (measured in seconds)
¥ When the shutter is closed, the frame is moved to the next frame
¥ Narrow shutter angle restrict the motion blur
¥ Wider shutter angle will increase the motion blur
o Motion blur

- Frame rates
- Maya render globals
- Anti-aliasing and sampling
over sampling
adaptive over sampling
under sampling
filtering
- Depth of field
3 parameters
length of lens
distance at which camera is focused, diameter of aperture (f-stop)

Depth of field describes the photographic effect that occurs when a camera focuses at a particular distance. Objects that are nearly that distance from the camera appear to be in focus, while objects that are far from that distance are blurry. Most computer graphics cameras do not simulate out-of-focus objects, and this is equivalent to a pinhole camera.


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3/10/08
Mental ray and rendering in passes

- plug-in load
- render globals
- what makes mental ray special
-3 renderers
-3 different kind of raytracing algorithm's
-global illumination
-final gather
-speed
-mental ray satellite for easy renderfarm setup

render passes

- why use them at all?
- hulk quicktime
- diffuse
- specular
- beauty
- ambient Occlusion
- shadow
- mattes
- rgb lights
- reflection w/bump
- smooth reflections
- spec
- grunge/scratches

putting passes into after effects/shake
-multiply ambient occlusion
-play with reflections, by changing opacity and screening reflection over
-use matte passes to isolate areas

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3/24/08
general notes on 1st lighting assignment:

follow directions.
--label images
--locked camera
--camera for each render
--too many shadow casting lights
--low depth map resolution -- shadows look blocky
--texture are too large
--jpeg renders not so good....too much pixelation
--lights are really hot in some images.
--when raytracing, make sure you don't have super reflective surfaces...an apple is not as as reflective as a mirror
--textures 72 dpi...2k at the most -- can usually get away with 512k
--try to use a texture method that offeres lossless compression, such as sgi, targa, exr or tiff...be wary when compressing with tiff's LZW compression as mental ray is not able to use images with that compression.

-caustics -- need to enable photons in light--make sure you add photonic mental ray materials
-gi
-fg -- like GI except you only get one bounce (can enable secondary bounce, but not usual)
-hdri -- high dynamic range images...allow you to light very very realistic lighting conditions



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3/31 Shading II


¥Build shading network for camouflage shirt.
¥fractal texture
¥layered texture
¥2d placement node
¥bump map
¥facing ratio


¥cd texture -- build a cd in class
displacement versus bump maps
colors
stencil nodes?

The requirement & the main purpose of my project

What is the main purpose??

01 to provide/bring back some analog choices that we don't have in current cellphone-communication process.

02 to put an emphasis on emotional needs/actual needs, try to propose some potential solutions to these user's needs, see if the technology can provide any form of help instead of constrain.

What is the requirement for my project to be successful?

01 user study....I need more people's real life experiences to tell what are the most common seen emotional needs

02 prototype..... to make my project/proposal easier to understand by providing the visual of the scenarios. (actual implementation? video? animation?)

03 research....research for precedents that related to technology that help resolve human(emotional needs or non-emotional needs) needs, also research on how technology shape people's behavior and form social protocol

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////


some thoughts for the experiments :

01 divide 10 people to two group, one group is not allow to use text message(neither write and read), one group is not allow to make and take calls(only using text message) to see whats the reaction of people

purpose....to see what is lost and make people feel in each part and be able to compare(?)

02 ask people to stop using their phone for 3 days( like we talked about before)

purpose....to see what kind of role does cell phone play in our daily lives

03 ask people to record their purpose and feelings of their calls( like purpose: ask what my friend is doing feeling: shit, he didnt pick up)

purpose..... to see what's people's main purpose of using cell phone( user behavior record?) and get an emotional record
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links that i found useful:
http://www.customerinput.com/design/
http://blogs.sun.com/designatsun/entry/emotional_design_and_mobile_devices
http://csdl2.computer.org/comp/proceedings/hicss/2008/3075/00/30750044.pdf
04/02 update
http://www.urban-atmospheres.net/

Essay(Midterm Sketch)

Mobile Awkwardness
Jason Tseng
Niplus777@gmail.com

Abstract

In this paper I will discuss the pervasive awkwardness and tensions brought by the omnipresent usage of mobile phone, and propose some simple solutions to these phenomena.

As the technology progressing, mobile phone developers tend to integrate more and more new features and functions such as camera, touch screen, mp3 players or the capability to connect to internet, into current cell-phone, but very few efforts were put into reviewing the psychology aspect of the users and the emerging and existed emotional needs caused by the relatively new form of communication. Although there are lots of researches focusing on the social phenomena and social impacts brought by mobile phone, the results seem to have very few influences upon the development of cell-phone.

My intention here is to highlight the most often seen emotional needs pervading in modern communicational process, mainly focusing on the process of “using cell phone to talk to someone”; taking a micro perspective toward the process itself and to propose some potential solutions. Hopefully by doing so, I can provide some different thoughts and directions for the future development of cell phone.

Introduction

Having our mobile phone with us nowadays is not an option or a choice for most people anymore. We have to have our cell-phones with us in order to be reachable to our families, friends and business associates, otherwise people would consider us “inconsiderate” and “hard to keep in touch with”, which is an unaffordable disadvantage for most modern people to bear with. Even kids bring their phones with them to ease the anxious level of their parents of the thoughts that their kids might be “kidnapped” or “in danger”.

However, while people taking the company of their cell-phones for granted, the “side effects” emerged in many different aspects. As much as social and other aspects are important, the issue I’m going to talk about mainly focusing on the problems that pervading in the process of actually using the device.

My main argument here, is how people conform themselves to the technology and thus, creating some awkwardness and frustrations in the communicational process.

Concept+Methodology

The options we have when our phones ring are extremely limited: pick up and talk or reject the call. It may seems stupid to even argue about the options we have for someone who takes this fact for merited, nevertheless, if we look at the inherent differences between human beings and computer carefully, it will be clear that why I think this is an issue.

As human being, the way we communicate is analog, which means we have many different layers while interact with others. For example, when we bump into someone on the street, we may say hello, hug this person, shake hand, nods to him, or ignore this guy. Each option, again, has many different levels to send different messages, like say hello in a passionate tone or say hello in an antiseptic way. Not to mention we can easily come up with more options in this scenario. On the other hand, when it comes to how computer works, it’s all about digital, which means 1 or 0; yes or no. Despite the fact that we can give computer orders to enable it reacting in different manners to different conditions, the essence of the smart machine is still digital. There is no ambiguity inhere in computer, which is probably a good feature in many cases. But in the case of current cell-phone design, I found the digital feature of answering a phone is quite problematic. The interesting content of “example of mobile phone anti-social behavior” contest (Jan Chipchase 2008) is a good demonstration of how universal and pervasive these problems are. People around the world sharing their experiences of how they suffer from the limited options provided by cell-phone in many different ways, but at the mean time, because of the importance of it, they tend to bear with it and try to ignore the inconveniences and the problems.

Here I divided the behavior of using a mobile phone into three different segments to simplify and organize the problems: Making call / Answering / on a call /. In each category I will describe briefly about the problematic scenario and also provide my thought of potential solutions. It is not to say that these scenarios contain all the problems we are facing, but these are the pin points that I found haven’t been dealt with too much.

Making call: One of the most common seen problems of mobile phone is that it rings at an inappropriate timing or situation. For instance, it could be when someone in an important meeting or in the middle of a funeral. Once it happened, it could cause the tension of the environment and create anger and awkwardness between people in the surroundings. It is now a social protocol to turn your phone off or at least into vibrate mode when the surroundings is not suitable for picking up a call, and we tend to blame anyone, even stranger, who doesn’t obey the new social rule by staring and other non-verbal body-movements.(Berry, et al.2002). However, in our daily lives, the timings that one should switch his cell phone on/off happen frequently. It is human nature to forget and make mistake.

I think the true problem lies in the fact that in current cell phone usage, a caller has very few ways to know if it is a good timing for the receiver to pick up the call or not. The lack of information of receiver’s current status causes the pervasive awkwardness. My proposal is to provide a simple function for a caller to know his contact’s current status, just like what we have while using internet: MSN, IM or SKYPE. Any of these applications has an important feature: provide a little bit information about your current status to your friends, such as “away”, “on phone” or “busy”, so they would have a clearer idea of what you up to before actually talk to you. I can see very similar function works exactly the same way to help solving the problem we have. People often make calls from their contact list in their cell phone, if you can see “don’t call now, just text message me” right next to the name, you will probably have a better chance not to embarrass your friend.
Answering:

When our phones ring, the limited options of Yes and No (pick up or reject a call) ignores some subtle emotional needs we have. For example, what if you want to take the important incoming call you are having but you need a little bit extra time, say 20 seconds, to prepare yourself? The answer is that you might miss the call if you do so, because the caller might lose his/her patience and give up, which sometimes could damage your opportunity or even career. Or what if you have to reject an incoming call but at the mean time you want to give the caller the assuredness that you got it and will call him/her back as soon as possible? What actually happens all the time is that people don’t want the callers know that they are rejecting the call because it’s considered rude, so they just ignore the call. In these situations, we suffer from the rigid form of mobile communication. The current technology in use ignores these potential needs and cause inconvenience and frustrations. The tendency to ignore the actual emotional needs is similar in the telephone answering system. The frustration comes from the rigid responds and commands from the computer; (press 1 if you…), which hinder you from talking to a customer service person. In both cases we have to conform ourselves to the limited options and “act as setting”. “In other words, the technical opportunity to become friendlier is also an opportunity to become unfriendly at a more decisive level………..What I wanted, in a direct sense, was relief from the (technological) disruption “ (Steve 2007)

The main reason of this problem is that under the constraining of the limited options, we have no way to express ourselves before picking up / hanging up a call. The lack of direct interaction causes both sides (the caller and the receiver) anxious. The caller wouldn’t know whether if the receiver rejected the call simply because it was not a good timing or it was because the receiver forgot to bring his phones. The receivers, on the other hand, have no way to tell the caller either “just a minute, I will pick it up” or “yes, I got it, I will call you ASAP”. Which is exactly what I want to propose: add these options. By providing either the assuredness of picking up or calling back, the direct interaction between both sides can help demolishing the uncertainty and thus comfort the anxiety level.
On a call

In this scenario, the emotional need works in the opposite way comparing to the last one. There are some cases in which instead of providing our current status, we rather want to fake or hide our positions. For example, while having an on-going unpleasant or unfavorable conversation; people tend to pretend having a decreasing signal problem in order to escape from the situation. The problem is that another side of the conversation can easily tell simply because it’s fake. Once the trick had been pierced, the relationship between two sides will only get worse.

My idea for this scenario is simple: why not make the “desired problem” real? If we can manually choose to decrease the signal, we can have the “legitimacy” to hang up any undesired conversation. To take the idea one step further, we can also provide a “background sound effect” function to enable the users to show different “inconvenient situations” to their counterpart. In other words, providing the excuses for hanging up a call, which is the option we don’t have now.

Related Work
James Auger, Jimmy Loizeau, Stefan Agamanolis, 2003, Iso-phone: a total submersion telephonic experience

This project was focusing on sensing the conversation and experiencing the human-to-human communication through mobile phone. The intention, according to the authors, is to “examine how tele-communications might exist from a perspective that priorities quality of experience over the design industry’s blinkered notion of efficiency, often represented in multi-modal, omnipresent services and portable products.” Although the end result of their project is more like a scenario than a actual proposal for future development, the main argument (human emotional needs’ priorities in current design) is strongly related to my on-going project.

Jenny Chowdhury, 2005 The popularity Dialer
This project is well famous among internet, the intention is enable you to order a fake phone call at a particular time to feel important, avoid a contact, or plan an excuse through their service. It worked exactly in the field that I am working on. The importance of the emotional need is highly emphasized. Actually this project is exactly why I pull off the “When in need” section while categorized the problem. It was even more popular than the authors have expected and became a service on-line until FCC ban their business. I think the popular of this project validate my argument.

Social Mobile
They claim their motivation on the index page of their website “we are interested in the frustration and anger caused by other people’s mobile phone”. Although it put a strong emphasis on the social aspect and invented five whole new different types of mobile, the argument on emotional needs should be dealt with is strongly connect to my concept. Their scenarios showed the same awareness of how technology shapes our behaviors and took it further by utilizing it.

On-going process

 Implementation
 Result
 Conclusion

Reference: lists

Websites

 Jan Chipchase 2008 “mobile phone anti-social behavior” event, http://www.janchipchase.com/blog/archives/2008/02/monday_morning.html#comments

Books

 Barry Brown, Nicola Green, and Richard Harper (Eds) 2002,Wireless World: social and interact ional aspect of the mobile age

 Steve Talbot, 2007 Devices of the soul”

Articles

 Anthony Dunne, 1999, Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience and Critical Design.

 James Auger, Jimmy Loizeau, Stefan Agamanolis, 2003, Iso-phone: a total submersion telephonic experience

Major Studio 0306note

conferences
CHI2008(?)
DIS(design interaction system)?
ACM SIGGRAPH
ISEA(?)
NIME(new interfaces for musical expression)

download final paper template

main quetion

Can we integrate more human touch in the digital-form interaction to alleviate the anxiety level brought by the limited options provided by current mobile phone ?

Instead of providing more and more "purpose-oriented functions", can mobile itself also deal with our "emotional needs while using it "?

First stage ideas

The tensions/awkwardnesses of the cell-phone communication are so ubiquitous but often being ignored or tolerated. People tend to bear with the anxious and awkward experiences underline the belief that the device is a can't-live-without gadget. By stimulating/hight-lighting the often seen experiences may help people's awareness of how our behavior been shaped and constrained by the form of current cell-phone communication.

often-seen examples:

01

An incoming call you don't want to pick up, but don't really know how to make it mute without directly reject the call, which considered impolite. The continue ringing phone not only make you feel awkward but also create intension between you and your surrounding.

problem
A lot of people don't really know how to use their cell-phone
B There should be more options to reject a call


02
In an inappropriate situation (meeting/interview/class/funeral/wedding/temple..etc), your phone rings and you anxiously want to find it, but it's too late. You have to apologize or sometimes just bear other people's anger.

problem

A we always carry our cell phone but don't really always (remember to/know how to)control it because it is so easy to forget.
B we try to be reachable all the time even when are not suppose to

03
Someone has different perception of "politeness" and "the protocol of using phone appropriately", either talk too loud in an inappropriate situation(library/subway...etc)or keep calling other people until it get through, or simply not picking up his/her phone all the time.

problem

A We expect everyone understands and uses the same protocol but there is no (safe) way to control/intervene other's behavior


04

Someone always call you at a bad timing, could be when your hands are full or an awkward timing. We tend to relate this negative feeling to this (might be innocent) person.

problem

A there is no tips before you make the call, you don't know if the timing is gonna be good or not.
B when you get a call like this, you don't have a proper way to leash out your anger because technically it is no one's fault


05
We are always aware of the strength of the signal, it becomes a new necessary feature when choosing where to live. We feel anxious when disconnected, especially when other people have no problem.

problem

A we consider the convenience of "reachable" status as our default option, but it somehow increase our anxious level.


06

Sometimes we use cell-phone as our disguise, pretending ourselves on a on-going conversation in some situations which you simply want to avoid or want to look less stupid doing nothing. Sometimes we need a call to have an excuse to get out of the situation either physically or metaphysically.

problem

A Its not real, sometimes it fail because of that.It will only make things even more awkward and put you in a worse situation.

B When you need a call, you can't order one. Even if you ask your friend to help, the timing and the content of conversation could be wrong/not as good as you want


07
You were talking someone in person, your phone rang. You pick up the phone cuz he keep calling, but its rude either to make the person you were talking to wait or rush the caller to finish up the phone. All of a sudden your situation became difficult.

problem

A You can easily be put in an awkward situation in which you didn't do anything wrong but seems to be the one to blame.
B Other people have no way to know if it is a good timing, it is hard for them to be polite too.

08

You were not prepare to answer a call, but it rings. Somehow you still pick up the phone and pretend that you are ready to take the call(toilet/shower/sleeping/napping/slacking/having or about to have sex/hiding)

A you are not ready, and other people can easily tell. There is no way you can get help

B You may loose important chance or ruin a good time.


09

You want to finish a conversation, but don't really know how. You pretend the signal is getting weak and hangup, but the other person always can tell.

problem

A It's not real, you will get caught

10

You get nervous when make or pick up a call, but the ringing time is so short that you cant really prepare yourself well

problem

A There is no way or chance to practice,
B The time issue is intense, make you sounds worse than you should be
C you dont even know how you sound