Nokia Morph & Nanotechnology

27 Feb 2008 - 2:54pm
6 years ago
21 replies
1484 reads
Josh Evnin
2005

I was watching the Nokia Morph
Concept<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX-gTobCJHs>video this
afternoon, and it got me thinking on a
tangent. Perhaps it's only because there was only one character in the
video, but I
am having a hard time seeing how this sort of tool would benefit human
interaction...the kinds we all potentially will design.

I guess my broad question is, in your opinions, how will Nanotechnology
impact Interaction Design? For the uneducated, is Nanotechnology just about
mobile phones that you can fold up and put in your pocket (or wrap around
your wrist), or will there be bigger interaction benefits as well?

Looking forward to your forward-thinking opinions.

Josh

--
http://josh.ev9.org/weblog

Comments

27 Feb 2008 - 3:34pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Wow! what isn't IxD here. Not sure why the single user makes a
difference.

But the fact that form is not static in a physical device, that fact
that there are innovations in sensing, imaging, etc. will drastically
change the way we interact with devices and what functionality we
conceive to put on devices.

Contextually aware physical interfaces? Wow!
I want one now!

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=26576

27 Feb 2008 - 3:54pm
Brandon E.B. Ward
2008

I sort of agree w/ Wired's take on the whole thing, albeit very cool to think about.

Nokia's Morph concept phone offers an image of the future. It is a future where, despite nanotechnology being so advanced we can fabricate integrated circuits, displays and physical interfaces that are able reconfigure themselves in a dynamic freeform substrate, we are still making phone calls.

http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/02/10-uses-for-the.html

B

27 Feb 2008 - 4:07pm
mauropin
2007

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 4:54 PM, Josh Evnin <jevnin at gmail.com> wrote:
> I was watching the Nokia Morph Concept
> <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX-gTobCJHs> video this
> afternoon, and it got me thinking on a
> tangent. Perhaps it's only because there was only one character in the
> video, but I am having a hard time seeing how this sort of tool would
> benefit human interaction...the kinds we all potentially will design.
>
> I guess my broad question is, in your opinions, how will Nanotechnology
> impact Interaction Design? For the uneducated, is Nanotechnology just about
> mobile phones that you can fold up and put in your pocket (or wrap around
> your wrist), or will there be bigger interaction benefits as well?

Hi Josh,

I was very impressed with the video. Not because of the product
itself, but for the possible applications that I could imagine after
seeing it. I'm not familiar with nanotechnology, but it seems to me
that is another step towards accomplishing a pervasive/ubiquitous
computing world.

It seems to me that nanotechnology would make it possible to really
think about embedded computers. Any sort of object could have some
kind of "computer" on it. Clothes, glasses, wires...any object could
became "smart".

You may ask: is that something we would want?

I guess we already do! Just look around...

There are some key values that I see in our lifes that would be
enhanced with this technology.

Information is one key value. We design information systems. We design
tools to make easier to find and use information. We produce
information. We share information. More than ever, we consume
information.

Another key component of our lifes is mobility. To be able to access,
to communicate, to connect with each other in different spaces is
something that is vital to many of us today. Twittering on the way
home. Checking emails on the airport. Taking pictures, sending them to
our Flickr account in real time etc.

Still we have to deal with many devices that are not so different from
our desktops computers. Laptops, iPhones...these are different sizes
of a not so different conceptual product. We still have to phocus very
hard on the object to use it. It still demands our attention. They
concentrate hundreds of functions, programs. They are more likely a
swiss knife. Many tools in one device.

I guess with nanotechnology we would be able to create products that
could rely on a "calm technology" approach, to quote Mark Weiser...As
any object can have an "embedded computer", being able to access
information, to exchange data within the environment and within other
objects, we start to have dynamic contexts of interaction. Our
products could "sense" the environment, and respond to it. Change
under the influence of the context. Less effort from us.

Nanotechnology is definitely not about mobile phones. That is Nokia
business, so that's how they use it.

Nanotechnology is about wearable computers. Hands-free devices.
Dynamic environments that change upon your influence.

The interaction benefits I can imagine for nanothecnology are beyond
my wildest dreams. :-)

--
prof. mauro pinheiro
universidade federal do espírito santo
centro de artes
depto. de desenho industrial

27 Feb 2008 - 5:06pm
Josh Evnin
2005

Dave said:
> Not sure why the single user makes a difference.

For me, with a single actor in the video, I was unable to see how this tool
was really impacting anyone beyond the one person we are able to see. Sure,
I guess we are allowed to get geeked out by the fact that she's able to do
all this stuff with one little device, but the changes the tool itself
brought upon the world were so basic that it left me thinking "so what?"

Now, when I think back to other concept videos like HP's Cooltown (here's
the best link I can find...video has to be
downloaded<http://drzaius.ics.uci.edu/blogs/infx242s07/2007/05/cooltown_video_1.html>),
I am able to get the concept immediately, and understand some of the greater
implications of the technology. I think the fact that multiple people are
interacting with the technology helps explain the real impact.

Mauro said:
> It seems to me that nanotechnology would make it possible to really
> think about embedded computers. Any sort of object could have some
> kind of "computer" on it. Clothes, glasses, wires...any object could
> became "smart".

Ahh...this is the part that they didn't show in the video, but has real
implications for us. Now we're talking. :-) Thanks for your explanation.

I love that Wired article as well. I'm off to research what else this
Nanotechnology stuff will be capable of. Nice Wednesday afternoon
diversion...

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 3:07 PM, mauro pinheiro <mauro.pinheiro at gmail.com>
wrote:

> On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 4:54 PM, Josh Evnin <jevnin at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I was watching the Nokia Morph Concept
> > <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX-gTobCJHs> video this
> > afternoon, and it got me thinking on a
> > tangent. Perhaps it's only because there was only one character in the
> > video, but I am having a hard time seeing how this sort of tool would
> > benefit human interaction...the kinds we all potentially will design.
> >
> > I guess my broad question is, in your opinions, how will Nanotechnology
> > impact Interaction Design? For the uneducated, is Nanotechnology just
> about
> > mobile phones that you can fold up and put in your pocket (or wrap
> around
> > your wrist), or will there be bigger interaction benefits as well?
>
>
> Hi Josh,
>
> I was very impressed with the video. Not because of the product
> itself, but for the possible applications that I could imagine after
> seeing it. I'm not familiar with nanotechnology, but it seems to me
> that is another step towards accomplishing a pervasive/ubiquitous
> computing world.
>
> It seems to me that nanotechnology would make it possible to really
> think about embedded computers. Any sort of object could have some
> kind of "computer" on it. Clothes, glasses, wires...any object could
> became "smart".
>
> You may ask: is that something we would want?
>
> I guess we already do! Just look around...
>
> There are some key values that I see in our lifes that would be
> enhanced with this technology.
>
> Information is one key value. We design information systems. We design
> tools to make easier to find and use information. We produce
> information. We share information. More than ever, we consume
> information.
>
> Another key component of our lifes is mobility. To be able to access,
> to communicate, to connect with each other in different spaces is
> something that is vital to many of us today. Twittering on the way
> home. Checking emails on the airport. Taking pictures, sending them to
> our Flickr account in real time etc.
>
> Still we have to deal with many devices that are not so different from
> our desktops computers. Laptops, iPhones...these are different sizes
> of a not so different conceptual product. We still have to phocus very
> hard on the object to use it. It still demands our attention. They
> concentrate hundreds of functions, programs. They are more likely a
> swiss knife. Many tools in one device.
>
> I guess with nanotechnology we would be able to create products that
> could rely on a "calm technology" approach, to quote Mark Weiser...As
> any object can have an "embedded computer", being able to access
> information, to exchange data within the environment and within other
> objects, we start to have dynamic contexts of interaction. Our
> products could "sense" the environment, and respond to it. Change
> under the influence of the context. Less effort from us.
>
> Nanotechnology is definitely not about mobile phones. That is Nokia
> business, so that's how they use it.
>
> Nanotechnology is about wearable computers. Hands-free devices.
> Dynamic environments that change upon your influence.
>
> The interaction benefits I can imagine for nanothecnology are beyond
> my wildest dreams. :-)
>
> --
> prof. mauro pinheiro
> universidade federal do espírito santo
> centro de artes
> depto. de desenho industrial
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
http://josh.ev9.org/weblog

27 Feb 2008 - 4:34pm
Brad Ty Nunnally
2008

I have to agree with Dave here. The prospect of having devices that
behave in a completly different way based on context would be earth
shattering.

An example is one of the first iPhone commercials that came out with
the guy that was complaining about having to always carry around 3
different devices, phone, mp3, and something else I can't remember.
The point of the commercial was you now had all the power in a single
device the iPhone.

With the concept of this technology a single device could replace
countless devices that we all need to carry around on any given day.

The interaction of each of these context would then need to be
considered during the design of the device. For each context the
device is made to handle, the design time for the overall device
would increase. Goes back to there is never going to be a single
Golden Design.

Star Trek thinking here: A single device could take the place of your
keys by unlocking your car/house/door/etc, mp3 player, digital
camera/cam corder, PDA, watch, GPS, TV Remote, etc. The options are
almost limitless. Too bad the technology isn't here yet, maybe when
I am an old man :D (24 here)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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27 Feb 2008 - 7:29pm
Lukeisha Carr
2007

The Nokia Morph concept is awesome! I just wrote an article for a
class assignment on nanotechnology for new medical drug uses. It was
my first time learning what nanotechnology actually was, and the
potential of its abilities. I find it amazing, and a little scary at
the same time.

I agree with Dave. The Nokia Morph concept encompasses everything
interactive. Nanotechnology may be a flexible type of technology,
but what it can do for or show to a user still needs to be designed &
programmed into it. It still needs information architecture and an
interface. The value of the "flexible" phone itself may seem to be
useless to some, but to me, so are video games (no offense to video
gamers out there). It's entertainment, fun, and most important to
IxDers, interactive.

The concept of technology like this one, clear walls and table top
surfaces with touch applications in them is what's gotten me so
interested in interaction design. I would love to work on things
such as the Nokia Morph!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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27 Feb 2008 - 7:44pm
Dave Malouf
2005

hmmm?
Wow! "still making a phone call?"
That is the most obtuse statement I've ever heard. That's like
saying the change between the wall mounted cranker that took you to a
switchboard operator is no different than a the cordless phone is no
different than the mobile phone. Each of these had huge social and
economic impacts, as well as behavioral changes in the way we
perceive communications and our connections virtually vs. physically
with the environment around us.

Dudes! its time to open up your sci-fi books and movies (I prefer
movies) and start seeing nano-technologies' effect on the future.
These fictional conceptions turn out not to be very conceptual any
longer.

Embedded is one take. But people are designing today homes using
macro-nanotechnologies where architectures shift based on ambient
conditions. ARCHITECTURES! Expand that to entire environments. And
the self-powering/charging natures of these devices makes them even
more wondrous.

How we change our relationship to technology at the personal level
effects how we engage it at the social level. This has been happening
throughout history. Nanotechnologies once matured and cheap enough
will radically change the very nature of human relationship to
technology.

"still talking on the phone" ... HAH!!! What a stupid statement if
I ever heard one. A case where wired is just being well obtuse!

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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27 Feb 2008 - 7:56pm
Bill DeRouchey
2010

This is pure awesome.

The simple idea of haptic surfaces, where the surface reshapes itself
on context, alone solves the single biggest problem with
touchsurfaces: you can't feel the difference between "buttons."

I've been saying for a while that materials science in combo with
nanotech will revolutionize interaction design. It already is with
touchsurfaces, but that is just the beginning.

Consider that the complexity of interaction design is related to the
number of input and output possibilities. Have just buttons and
lights? It's a simpler problem (and thus didn't yet need the term
"interaction design".) Add in screen displays and keyboards, it gets
more complex. Add in touch input/output, more complex. Now add in this
technology, even more.

And by "more complex" I of course mean "more fun." The practice of IxD
is going to be handed some seriously fun challenges over the next few
decades.

Bring. It. On.

27 Feb 2008 - 8:01pm
Matt Theakston
2007

I notice its still got a qwerty keyboard..

Matt

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 6:56 PM, Bill DeRouchey <bill.derouchey at gmail.com>
wrote:

> This is pure awesome.
>
> The simple idea of haptic surfaces, where the surface reshapes itself
> on context, alone solves the single biggest problem with
> touchsurfaces: you can't feel the difference between "buttons."
>
> I've been saying for a while that materials science in combo with
> nanotech will revolutionize interaction design. It already is with
> touchsurfaces, but that is just the beginning.
>
> Consider that the complexity of interaction design is related to the
> number of input and output possibilities. Have just buttons and
> lights? It's a simpler problem (and thus didn't yet need the term
> "interaction design".) Add in screen displays and keyboards, it gets
> more complex. Add in touch input/output, more complex. Now add in this
> technology, even more.
>
> And by "more complex" I of course mean "more fun." The practice of IxD
> is going to be handed some seriously fun challenges over the next few
> decades.
>
> Bring. It. On.
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

27 Feb 2008 - 8:35pm
Kontra
2007

> This is pure awesome.

And a clear rip-off of a nearly year and a half old concept video by a
young student submitted to Nokia:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdZ_VOdojsM

Regardless, Nokia is a company that hasn't even been able to answer
the iPhone multi-touch challenge in over a year. It's fantasy to think
that at least this company will ship a device, even as limited as
depicted in that video, in seven years' time.

Not much more than a perennial "concept car".

--
Kontra
http://counternotions.com

27 Feb 2008 - 6:15pm
Alla Zollers
2008

Hi Josh --

Thanks for sharing the video, I also found it to be really
interesting.

>From a "future" interaction point of view, I find this concept very
short sighted. Not only is does the concept not demonstrate more
social interaction (as you have mentioned), but the interaction is
still focused on a single tangible object. Can we not imagine a world
were we might not have to carry around objects (even cool bendy ones),
but rather seamlessly be able to accomplish our tasks through the
embedding of nanotechnology in our surrounding environment? Isn't
one of the goals of good interaction design to be so transparent that
there is basically no interface. I see this is a definite possibility
with nanotechonology.

-- http://allaland.wordpress.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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27 Feb 2008 - 8:06pm
Brandon E.B. Ward
2008

I agree to the point that, well, 50 yr.s ago the year 2000 sounded like super-sci-fi - we'd all be living on the moon, flying around in water-powered cars living in transformable plastic houses (or something). Here we are , 2008, not much further than we were then in many aspects. So, in 50 years will we still be making phone calls? Probably, but I wonder if it'll take a backseat to something more interesting, much the same way snail-mail gave way to e-mail, chat and text and video calls are gaining headway etc. Perhaps there's a digital form of communication we haven't even dreamt up yet.

Still - I took the article mostly as I think it was intended - satire.

B

On 2/27/08 8:44 AM, "dave malouf" <dave at ixda.org> wrote:

hmmm?
Wow! "still making a phone call?"
That is the most obtuse statement I've ever heard.

27 Feb 2008 - 9:43pm
Brian Williams
2006

I have a theory that anytime that a company has to resort to making videos
of products, rather than making products, it's in serious trouble. Can
anyone think of a company that made a visionary video and later made a
visionary product?

The examples of companies that ran into trouble after making their concept
videos are:

Apple: Knowledge Navigator
Sun: Starfire
HP: not sure of the name, but that one with that crap built into the fridge
:)
AT&T: "You Will" campaign

I know that there are a bunch more, but I can't find them right now.

So are there any companies that have benefited from these vision videos? All
of the above went into serious decline after the videos were made.
Don't get me wrong I think that they are wonderful (except for AT&T's), but
it seems that are an indication that the company can't actually deliver, so
they fake it.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Alan Kay

27 Feb 2008 - 11:22pm
Scott McDaniel
2007

Correlation is not causation.

Scott
--
'Life' plus 'significance' = magic. ~ Grant Morrison

28 Feb 2008 - 1:03am
Brian Williams
2006

Certainly correlation is not causation. But my wild speculations shouldn't
be confused with science :) Besides you could never have enough data points,
there are too few data points.
But I do think that it signifies something, a desperate need for attention,
a need to be seen as relevant, a distraction from the design of the actual
products?

On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 8:22 PM, Scott McDaniel <scott at scottopic.com> wrote:

> Correlation is not causation.
>
> Scott
>
>

28 Feb 2008 - 8:37am
Morten Hjerde
2007

> anytime that a company has to resort to making videos
> of products, rather than making products, it's in serious trouble.

> it signifies something, a desperate need for attention,
> a need to be seen as relevant, a distraction from the design of the actual
> products?

Hi Brian
You should probably be aware that the company you refer to sells 1 million
mobile phones every single day of the year including Saturdays, Sundays and
holidays. I would not think that "making videos rather than products" really
applies in this case :-)

They have around 15 thousand people working in R&D. The video is a "7 years
from now" future vision from the Cambridge Nanoscience Centre where they
just built a $60 millon nanotech research lab.

The way to achieve something is to set yourself a Big Hairy Goal. I'd say
that they just did exactly that.

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

28 Feb 2008 - 9:06am
Bill DeRouchey
2010

> But I do think that it signifies something, a desperate need for attention,
> a need to be seen as relevant, a distraction from the design of the actual
> products?

I disagree. Creating concept videos like this is a common tool in the
product design world to understand how an idea may be crazy or
interesting. It's just another form of prototyping based on scenarios.
It poses the huge WHAT IF? question to the company, often to simply
secure the necessary funds for research.

I imagine someone in marketing or development asked, what if we
applied learnings in nanotechnology to a cellphone? Stupid question?
As dumb as, what if we put a touchscreen with no buttons on a
cellphone? What if we made an MP3 player with no screen at all? The
What If questions drive, well, almost all invention.

So they thought about how the technology could have bearing on
someone's daily life, and made a video to show it.

Companies like Nokia don't "need to be seen as relevant," they need to
make sure they stay relevant. Where technology changes rapidly,
companies can quickly lose their edge, fall behind, and die. This is a
tool to look ten years out to discover where they should be investing
their research dollars now. Development takes years, so they have to
plan smartly.

Exploring scenarios through concept videos is just a way to gauge the
relative values of investments. It IS the design of actual products,
just not products in the next sales season.

- Bill

28 Feb 2008 - 9:38am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Feb 28, 2008, at 9:06 AM, Bill DeRouchey wrote:

> So they thought about how the technology could have bearing on
> someone's daily life, and made a video to show it.

I also wanted to point out that the scenario very purposefully
doesn't focus on the device itself. The phone/watch/etc. remains very
ambiguous in its functionality. Instead, it puts the focus on the
nanotechnology and the qualities it can afford to any device.

> Exploring scenarios through concept videos is just a way to gauge the
> relative values of investments. It IS the design of actual products,
> just not products in the next sales season.

Well said, Bill.

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

I am in search of the
simple elegant seductive
maybe even obvious IDEA.
With this in my pocket
I cannot fail.

- Tibor Kalman

28 Feb 2008 - 9:59am
kimbieler
2007

I think it's interesting that the video uses "hand-drawn" animation
and a handwriting-style font to humanize the technology. The music is
really touchy-feely and the woman is not in a business setting, but
at an outdoor cafe. They're trying to suggest that this will be the
complete opposite of most people's experience with technology, which
is often frustrating and intrusive.

I'm finding that the main problem with "portable" electronic devices
is the proliferation of batteries chargers and power cords. Do away
with those, and suddenly today's iPod and laptop and cell phone are a
lot closer to this rosy vision of the future.

-- Kim

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Kim Bieler Graphic Design
www.kbgd.com
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

28 Feb 2008 - 5:25pm
Kontra
2007

> You should probably be aware that the company you refer to sells 1 million
> mobile phones every single day of the year including Saturdays, Sundays and
> holidays.

Yes, this the same company that has sold hundreds of millions of
devices over a decade and never came even close to the power and
functionally of an iPhone. Even after it was introduced to the
possibility of such a device (a year and a half later), it still
doesn't have multi-touch answer to it.

> They have around 15 thousand people working in R&D.

And what have they accomplished in the last decade? Let's start with
the most obvious: have they even grasped the power of the web, until
the iPhone amply demonstrated it?

What have they done, in the last decade, in re-arranging the power
structure between handset manufacturers and carriers? Nada. That takes
careful integration of technology, systems design and business acumen,
which apparently they lack. Hopefully, they'll ride on the coattails
of the iPhone and make something semi-useful out of Ovi.

Nokia N81: Ominous lesson to iPhone from carriers
http://counternotions.com/2007/10/09/patience-for-apple/

> The way to achieve something is to set yourself a Big Hairy Goal. I'd say
> that they just did exactly that.

For years, car manufacturers have been setting 'Big Hairy Goals' with
nothing to show for in actually shipping products. How's Nokia
different?

--
Kontra
http://counternotions.com

29 Feb 2008 - 4:28am
Morten Hjerde
2007

Kontra,

The reason that Nokia phones has a good reputation is because the rest are even worse. And yes, the iPhone is an amazing device.

I was really relating to a previous comment about "creating videos instead of products". If you have the impression that "nothing has been achieved" I encourage you to look closer. If you compare phones from a decade ago with current phones, I'm sure you will see that a lot has happened.
Mobile phones has been a hardware-driven business. The iPhone showed that people was willing to pay top dollar for a superior user experience and hallelujah to that. In an industry where great hardware is becoming a commodity, "user experience" is now the new value driver.

The nanotech vision video shows that there is still amazing things to be done. I think its is great that the video shows ideas how nanotech enables new ways to *interact* with a device. Spurring the imagination of thousands of R&D people? Whats not to like about that? Don't underestimate the Dick Tracy effect :-)

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