Gadgets '06

XIII.4 July + August 2006
Page: 42
Digital Citation

Your phone automatically caches your life


Authors:
Youngho Rhee, Jaehwan Kim, Amy Chung

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Imagine the moments you carry throughout your life, the ones you share with friends and family. Imagine having those special occasions at your fingertips without any effort. Those moments depict who you are and describe what you've done. The mobile handset helps log your every moment, analyzes your social network, and visualizes meaningful information in personal aspects. A mobile handset is no longer a simple communicator; rather, it serves as a mediator for close relationships between people and people or people and things. People use mobile phones to reach their buddies and connect to electronic devices located at their home network or their office network or on the move. A mobile phone is considered a gateway to new lifestyles. It is a suitable device for recording one's personal life and communicating with people, since people always carry their mobile handset with them.

There is some previous literature dealing with recording personal life by organizing casual information. Don Norman speculated about a Personal Life Recorder (PLR) device in his 1992 book Turn Signals Are the Facial Expression of Automobiles. He theorized that these PLRs would start out as a device given to young children, called the "Teddy." The Teddy would be given to us as children and record all of our personal life moments, and as we matured, the data could be transferred to new devices that matched our maturity level.

David Gelernter promotes a concept that would provide a multimedia archive of a person's life that one could tap into just about anytime and anywhere in his Life Streams project (see his 1998 book Machine Beauty). Apple's 20-year-old concept "piles" was an archiving-related document, which helps users organize things based on the contents.

To record personal life, a mobile phone has various personal life activity logs and so is appropriate to hold fruitful contents reflecting one's lifestyle with friendly information obtained through the life diary. Recently, the Samsung Electronics Software laboratory in Korea developed a mobile life diary application and a PC suite to enhance the mobile user's experience. The mobile embedded software "life diary" records all of the mobile phone's activities and automatically organizes a timeline. The life diary is a wonderful surprise; the "life cache" is well conceptualized and capitalizes on the capabilities of the mobile handset. The activity called "life caching" by Trendwatching.com is described as "collecting." People love to collect and store possessions, memories, and experiences, in order to create personal histories, mementos of their lives, or just to keep track of things for practical reasons. And with the experience economy still gaining ground, and consumers more often favoring intangible over tangible collecting, storing and displaying experiences is ready for its "big moment." Collecting, storing, and displaying one's entire life for private use, or for friends and family or even the entire world to peruse, must be worthwhile.

A mobile life diary has fun and dynamic features as a personal life recorder, enabling moments to be digitized and uploaded. These are automatically recorded from the user's behaviors without any effort, putting the information at your fingertips. We dubbed our mobile-diary feature a "life diary." It provides an overview that can be uploaded to a personal blog; each occasion has metadata that is indexed by location, time, and context.

The life diary provides the user a portal service to control and manage almost all of the applications on the mobile handset. It automatically collects entire activities via the mobile phone and stores the moments in a single application: in and out communication log, payment information, personal information, entertainment, and multimedia. A life diary running on a mobile handset then allows people to see how, when, and with whom events are being created. It enables people to look through their life and express themselves. Therefore, it enables people to manage their personal history.

By analyzing the user's communication log, including SMS, call log, blog entries, etc., people's social relationships are depicted through metaphor. This provides the user a view of recent communication behaviors with people saved in the contact list. The user can infer their social status from their communication history.

The life diary is also a communication gateway. It allows people to do what they want from any event (i.e., returning email from an incoming call, retuning a call from SMS, attaching photo or video clips with MMS to their friends). The information architecture of the life diary began with a user-centric view. A mobile life diary is believed to enhance user experience by increasing user accessibility. The information architecture of current mobile handsets requires users to select exact menu items and navigate the hierarchical structure to complete their goal. In this case, the user can only execute the functions offered in the current menu hierarchy. In this perspective, a life diary may be considered a personal content manager, which enables the user to organize almost all of the contents and functions.

To visualize daily activities with only 2.2 inches of screen size on a mobile handset, the user interface and interaction are considered crucial: Time definition for one day, layout design for main view, size of event information, list and thumbnail view combination, usability such as readability, intuitiveness, and accessibility, friendly look and feel, and user's customization are all important design considerations.

Every event occupies a timeline, with information arranged chronologically (recent activity populates first). A life diary's layout for main view is composed of four columns (timeline, event, attention [importance], scroll bar) and four rows (indicator, title bar, main [timeline and event], soft key). Significant events such as birthdays appear on the left of the title bar and weather is displayed on the right side of the title bar. We believe this information layout generates a friendly look and feel (see layout, Figure 3).

For readability, the time indicator on the left side becomes bold when an event or activity is logged at a specific time. Conversely, the time is dimmed where no single event is recorded at a specific time (see concept rendering, Figure 1).

For navigation accessibility, both a timeline and event zone are used. Users can employ the timeline zone for fast reviews given a daily activity, and check the event zone on the other side for detailed information on events and activities. In addition, right and left navigation keys are assigned on the title bar to quickly reach the previous and next days. Days can be scrolled through using the up and down navigation keys within the timeline and event zones.

View the thumbnails for the first event for a given time selection in the timeline zone, and then for a selected single event in the timeline zone. Other (unselected) entries are limited to the list view. In our current prototype, the thumbnail view varies by event characteristic—in other words, the information defined in message at thumbnail view (e.g., the main view is different than that of multimedia). In addition, a number of events influence the visualization in the mobile life diary.

A life diary is a personalized service that weaves together independent event information saved in a mobile handset. If you consider each event saved in the mobile handset to be a thread, the collection becomes a veritable cloth woven by the life-diary mobile life service.

The life-diary ecosystem has an infrastructure including a personal computer and Internet, which enables end-users to keep track of their personal music, photo, video, and file collections and provides them with home-publishing capabilities to create, store, and distribute their own content. All of these capabilities and features may be executed within one integrated environment. Users may extract from the life diary what they really want by checking an attention flag. The life-diary software running on a PC delivers a new type of media with original, user-created contents when the handset is connected to the PC. Examples of this user-created content include attention lists such as a to-do list or remember list; a daily newspaper with a limited section including culture, broadcasting, entertainment, talks, economy; digital characters representing the user's life; buddy lists; and various information reflecting the user's communication frequency.

We will expand the life-diary embedded mobile application with various additional features—for example, search. Having accumulated significant personal contents, people may need to sift through all of the data to find the interesting bits. Other features include blogging and posting for life sharing, supporting RSS feeds by subscription, and social networking for visualizing people's relationships—finding like-minded people and enabling them to participate in activities together. We believe a life diary creates a new lifestyle, and with a mobile life diary, people will feel happy to collect and share their life experiences with whomever they want.

back to top  References

1. www.jnd.org/TurnSignals/TS-TheTeddy.html

2. www.trendwatching.com/trends/LIFE_CACHING.htm

3. www.theregister.co.uk/2003/04/23/deep_inside_apples_piles/.

4. David G., Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Hear of Technology, Brockman, New York, NY, (1998).

back to top  Authors

Youngho Rhee
Samsung Electronics Software Laboratory
yh.rhee@samsung.com

Jaehwan Kim
Samsung Electronics Telecommunication Network
jaekim@samsung.com

Amy Chung
Samsung Electronics Software Laboratory
amychung@samsung.com

About the Author

Dr. Youngho Rhee is a senior UI engineer at Samsung Electronics. His main research interests are in the areas of pervasive computing, mobile supportive collaborative work, and social networking. Currently, he is actively engaged in numerous projects dealing with emotional user interface design and methodologies for subjective evaluation of mobile applications. He holds a PhD in Industrial System Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US. He is on the program board for "Human Interface and the Management of Information" at HCII 2007.

Jaehwan Kim is a senior s/w engineer on mobile phones with Samsung Electronics. He has been working on mobile phone s/w platform design and developing applications for eight years. His research is in the area of upcoming mobile platforms, service discovery in pervasive computing environments, mobile database, mobile agent, and mobile user interface.

Amy Chung is manager of the Interaction team in Samsung Electronics' software laboratories. She has degrees from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She developed the first mobile wireframes in 1998 and experienced various appliances across the platform. She co-translated a book on information appliances in 2000.

back to top  Figures

F1Figure 1. Life diary concept

F2Figure 2. Working prototype

F3Figure 3. Layout for life diary

F4Figure 4. Detail view: Transfer

F5Figure 5. Detail view: Incoming Message

F6Figure 6. Detail view: Memo

F7Figure 7. Search view

F8Figure 8. Communication log

F9Figure 9. Social relationships

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©2006 ACM  1072-5220/06/0700  $5.00

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