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Future(?) Design of Mobile Phones 162

Sad Loser writes "The future of the mobile phone is here, or at least a bunch of Nokia-sponsored industrial design students' take on the problem. The BBC also has more pictures." Most of these designs are quite silly (a necklace with squeezable beads for an address book?) but at least amusing.
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Future(?) Design of Mobile Phones

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  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @09:25AM (#15531577)
    If this is what the future holds, I think I need to get started with my curmudgeonly rantings about how great cell phones were in the past.
  • As usual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @09:28AM (#15531593) Homepage
    As usual, most of these designs aren't even possible and won't be possible in the near future. What do they teach these design students anyway? Seems more like an art-college for the artistically challenged.
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @09:31AM (#15531609) Homepage Journal
    In elementary school, I was in the "gifted" class where they'd ocasionally have us do creative projects liek this instead of normal schoolwork. Most of the results of those were at about the same level of insanity as these. Mine in particular tended to go in more of a rocket-pack/robot motorcyle direction.

    When you're nine years old, your zany ideas earn you a spot on the fridge for your new drawing. When you're in college, I guess it earns you a gallery on BBC news.
  • I see (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <(wgrother) (at) (> on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @09:31AM (#15531615) Journal

    The winner of the competition is the Nokia 111 by Daniel Meyer, and this is where the New Age speak goes into overdrive. The phone looks - to our eye - like a candy bar with a hinge in the middle, but it is, apparently: "Inspired both by the advent of video calling and the traditional practice of carrying pictures of friends or family members with you. The handset is designed to sit as a picture frame wherever the user is, serving the dual purpose of communications device and a comforting familiar focal point; at home, at work or in a hotel while away on business."

    It's also a great way to carry your porn more portably or annoy everyone in your office with a photo montage of baby pictures.

    Forgive my neo-Ludditism, but why does a cell phone have to be more than a phone? I say this as the owner of a Motorola V360, an excellent phone that also happens to have an MP3 player built in, which is one of the more useful accessories a phone could conceivably have, and saved me the trouble of buying another thing to tote around. I have a camera for pictures, but I wouldn't feel the need to set the phone down and display those pictures. Let's not forget, battery life is not all that great and using your phone as a slideshow probably wouldn't help.

    Look, either build the über device that does everything or stop trying to load mobile phones down with too much gadgetry.

  • Nothing else to do (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nicodemus101 ( 960204 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @09:38AM (#15531642)
    These are the same people that want to bring fashion to space suits right?

    Fashion in Space []

    I mean a phone that picks up smells? What for? What could possibly be the use for that? I don't know about you but I would rather not have the person on the other end know I just let one go after too much chilli.

    A phone that has beads to call people. Looking at my cellphone I have over a 100 contacts for business and personal. That's an awful lot of beads... might be the new 2015 style bling!
  • Re:I see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @09:42AM (#15531658)

    Forgive my neo-Ludditism, but why does a cell phone have to be more than a phone?

    Because the big, bulky, annoying, expensive part of carrying electronic devices around is a combination of:

    • Screen
    • Keypad
    • Battery

    Why carry more than one of each of those around when you don't have to?

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @09:43AM (#15531665)

    The aim was a user friendly product that gave an emotional relationship, like a friend

    People shouldn't have emotional relationships with phones. A phone is just a tool, nothing more. There isn't enough love in the world to waste it on consumer electronics.

  • by planetmn ( 724378 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @09:53AM (#15531734)
    Why is everybody so negative about the designs. Guess what, designers create based on form. Engineers create based on function. An end product is a meld of the two. If the designers only designed a cell phone that was the same shape and form as an old rotary phone, the engineers would design the electronics to go inside, and we'd all have phones bigger than the old bag phones of the 80s.

    It is a designers job to create something that appeals to the market in terms of form. It is the engineers job to create something that works. And together with many others they create a product that has parts of both worlds.

    Also, for everybody talking about "well, I just want a phone that gets good reception" that's a network design problem for the most part, not a device problem.

  • Re:I see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:04AM (#15531796)

    isn't there some critical mass of things you can cram into a small package at this time?

    Phones have been getting smaller and smaller up until a couple of years ago, where they levelled off. I think that's more to do with the fact that you can't make phones any smaller without making the interface unusable rather than any space issue.

    Battery technology being what it is, it seems the more you ask a device to do, the less it will actually be able to do.

    Obviously battery life is important, but how many of these features are actually wasting power when they aren't in use? And if they are in use, then what are you saving the power for, if not to use the device?

    I think when a tool tries to do too much, it is in danger of not doing anything particularly well

    That may be common, but I don't think it's an intrinsic consequence of convergence. And even if separate devices are of a higher quality, two separate devices of high quality aren't necessarily better than a single device that is good enough.

    For example, I'm not going to carry a camera everywhere I go. I am going to carry my phone everywhere I go. I might be able to get higher quality photos from a digital camera, but that's of no use to me if I don't have the camera with me when I want to take a photo. Thus the camera phone is of more value than a separate phone and camera, even if the quality is lower. Sure, if I'm going somewhere where I expect to take photos, I'd bring a camera, but that's of absolutely no use to me when most of my photos are taken on the spur of the moment.

  • Here we go again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:05AM (#15531799)
    Most people will say they only want a phone to call. However there are plenty of people out there that want more then just to call.

    Imagine you are a system administrator. Won't it be nice to be able to ssh into your server the moment you get a warning? That way you could perhaps solve the problem faster, from where you are, without the need to actually go to your portable. Unless you a such a geek that you don't have any moment you walk around without a portable (and network access)

    Some people like to have the camera. Some people like to send messages. So what you will get is a combination and variety of systems where you can select what you want.

    Not everybody has the same Linux distro, or the same services running on his system, so why should this be any different with your cellphone. Buy what you need. Do not buy what others tell you what you need.

    I use SUSE and I don't run KDE or Gnome. If you don't like the camera on your phone and yet you do like all the rest, then don't take pictures. Do you really want just to phone? Then just buy the cheapest (second hand) phone you can find. They are still available and can be bought.

    Just as with Linux, it is all a matter of choice. Because YOU don't want it does not mean it is a bad choice.
  • by dissolved ( 887190 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:07AM (#15531819)
    ... and the odd SPV phone, have become increasingly bad at actually making a call.

    My old Nokia 3330 was a lot faster to hang up a call and lock the keypad. I've waited 20 seconds with no apps running in the background on the 6680 for the thing to accept any input after ending a call.

    There is Salling Clicker though which kinda makes up for it - one of the best phone advancements I've used in a while (no-one mention 3G please).
  • by jbash ( 784046 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:18AM (#15531891)
    That's true. Not a single one was just a simple damn phone that a.) works as a phone is supposed to, and b.) is solidly constructed to withstand the beating that a heavily used phone goes through.

    The cell phone industry is ripe for the taking for the 1st company that comes out with a cell phone that is simple and as easy to use (and indestructable) as a home phone.
  • by Jott42 ( 702470 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:29AM (#15531978)
    An industrial designer makes forms that follows function and is within the possibilities of engineering. The design you are talking about is the same as art and SciFi-movie prop design. The things presented in the article are scifi-designs, which have very little base in reality... (i.e no account is taken for batteries or antennas.) And a phone with a larger antenna will have better reception, it follows from Maxwells equations. But the current market does rather accept so-so reception than an antenna. But you are right in part: The lower antenna performance can to some degree be compensated with a better network.
  • Oh come on (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zerosix ( 962914 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:44AM (#15532109)
    People spend so much time trying to develop tech for phones they don't stop to see if they should do it and ask people what they want. Why the hell would anyone want to put a chess set on thier phone? I mean seriously! Any why do people have to keep cramming more and more crap into cell phones? When I upgraded my phone last time, they kept trying to cell(haha) me one with an MP3 player. Also, not one of those phones looked like something I would even want to use. Lets pack more and more shit into phones and up the already high price! One feature that I do like on phones is the web feature(actually a useful non-bloated feature.) Games, MP3 player, and the such is rediculace for a phone.
  • Star Trek Badgers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kieran ( 20691 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @10:48AM (#15532136)
    I suppose it's not good enough for the rest of the bus to be only be able to hear half the conversation.
  • by karlandtanya ( 601084 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:25AM (#15532446)
    Is that so freakin' hard?

    It seems to me that all the other "features" being added daily are not for the benefit of the owner of the phone. They're yet more things to charge the owner for using.

    Sell connectivity like a commodity.
    I don't want to see "no network" when I'm looking directly at a freakin' cell tower.
    I don't give a shit who owns the tower. Share your infrastructure.
    The same companies that sell the mobile comms already do this with their hard lines, so don't say it's not feasible.
    Somebody's already claiming to do this (verizon?). The rest of you idiots, take a lesson.

    Build a durable phone with a decent battery.
    It doesn't have to be so tiny or so cool I can wear it on my chest and slap it when I want to talk to the Enterprise.
    It just has to make and receive calls. That's it.
    Make it out of the stuff that Ma Bell used to make the rental phones out of. It'll never break.

    Once you figure out the basic infrastructure and handhelds required for TALKING ON THE FREAKING PHONE, you can worry about selling me extraneous bullshit that I don't want.

  • by ursabear ( 818651 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @11:27AM (#15532466) Homepage Journal
    I think the designs are interesting. The idea behind a concept is to try to re-think things, or to improve things. Concept art and concept designs are all about stimulating ideas. Once in a while, a good idea comes along, and is actually implemented. Many things are assigned the round file of the past.

    Getting people to think about cell phones and their future is the intent of the design work - the intent is not necessarily to produce viable phones, just ideas.

    I think it is not easy to come up with refreshing and original ideas. It seems easy to criticize the ideas of others - but try to look at it from another angle: What would your design be?
  • by jwiegley ( 520444 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2006 @02:24PM (#15533984)

    I second this! Why the hell does my phone need to support smell?? What type of insecure individual needs to build a relationship with their phone?

    I hated every one of these phones for several reason: Stupid technology (smell), Childish throwbacks (care-bears/pretty pony necklace), Stupid design premise (relationship/feelings with an inanimate object).

    Where is the damn phone design that includes: Long battery life, excellent reception, low-cost/high-bandwidth capabilities? Durable/Rugged? Good coverage? How about a screen not made of glass so it doesn't crack? How about a god damn belt clip that doesn't eject the phone over sewer grates or concrete floors?

    Seriously, exactly what "theory" do they believe they are teaching these design idiots? Hasn't any other techie had to work with these types of people before? I have and let me tell you... they're involvement doesn't help produce a product on time, on budget or with a valuable feature set. They're children with arrested development problems. They defend their style as being "creative" when it's really just the result of avoiding reality. Should you find yourself faced with one: Give them a cute, simple toy to play with, set them aside in a corner and ignore them until the product is done. Then ask them what colors it should ship in. (Slap them if their answer includes the word "Pantone")

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