Gadgets '06

XIII.4 July + August 2006
Page: 22
Digital Citation

Introduction


Authors:
Bruno Niman, Manfred Tscheligi

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Information and communication technologies play an increasingly important role in many people's everyday lives. Interoperable mobile communication systems and services are becoming truly global and mass market, decreasing digital divides.

New applications and services are used increasingly to perform either necessary or just time-filling, entertaining tasks. If used as intended—and usable by and accessible to all—connectivity and interoperability between communication networks, ever-smarter mobile gadgets, and evolving, always accessible services offer enormous potentials for improving the quality of life.

What is a gadget? Let's consider it a device with some embedded computing capacity, essentially mobile, and which provides some value to the user. While that is a broad description, and many kinds of gadgets are in use today, the premier gadget in the personal space is the mobile phone, a worldwide phenomenon. Its identity and capabilities have developed over the years from a simple two-way communication device to an essential lifestyle-remote device—and there is still much room for it to evolve...

Today's mobile phones fall into distinct classes that appeal to the various user segments: from basic voice and text communication enablers, to feature phones that may add simple imaging options, to telephony and a basic list of contacts; to super-feature phones that also support Personal Information Management (PIM) applications, games, and more; to smart devices, combining all of the above with a broad variety of applications including Internet browsing, TV broadcasts (or at least media streaming and playback) and music capabilities with a complexity often rivaling that of desktop software, with global connectivity through public mobile networks (with or without WiFi and Bluetooth).

Gadgets and their connectivity impact not only our life management and communication habits but also shape our societies through basic and more advanced services they enable (e.g. telecare services, community and e-Government applications) and due to their penetration and outreach imagined by few visionaries just 25 years ago.

We received so many good contributions for the Gadgets topic that we've put together two special sections! This issue walks us through concepts for PDAs and mobile phones in the entertainment space, the workplace, and the imagination. We explore possibilities for mobile video, musical feedback, navigation support, warehouse operations, "life caching," as well as opinions, preferences, and experiences with mobile design.

We hope you enjoy it, and will look forward to the next issue's special section, which will continue the exploration of the mobile space with more case studies and exciting snapshots on gadgetry moments of today and tomorrow.

Enjoy the reading!

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Bruno von Niman
vonniman consulting
bruno@vonniman.com

Manfred Tscheligi
ICT&S, University of Salzburg
manfred.tscheligi@sbq.ac.at

About the Guest Editors

Bruno von Niman, founder and lead expert of vonniman consulting, an ICT user experience company, spent the most exciting ten years of mobile development with Ericsson in Sweden as a catalyst and advocate of user experience in R&D, product development, and standardization, also coordinating group activities. Bruno is vice chairman of the European Telecommunication Standards Institute's Human Factors Committee and leader of several projects sponsored by the European Commission. He represents European consumer interests in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), chaired Mobile Communications at CHI2004, the Mobile HCI 2005 Industry track, and is the chairman of the Human Factors in Telecommunications Symposia.

Manfred Tscheligi is professor of HCI & Usability at the Institute for Advanced Studies and Researach in Information and Communication Technologies & Society, University of Salzburg, Austria. His research interests are usability and user experience methodologies and innovative interaction environments. He is also founder and director of CURE, the Center for Usability Research and Engineering in Vienna, Austria, and managing director of USECON, a usability and user experience consultancy firm also in Vienna.

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©2006 ACM  1072-5220/06/0700  $5.00

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