Thursday, February 20, 2014

Innovating in Mobile Experiences

Last evening, I was at the annual meeting for Canada's Mobile Experience Innovation Centre. MEIC is an organization headed by Sara Diamond devoted to mobile device research and sector strategy, and to incubating and nourishing mobile companies. I've been involved with MEIC since early in its inception and I'm a member of their Research Strategy working group.

The highlight of yesterday's meeting was a presentation by Rami Lama and Howard Goldkrand, directors from SapientNitro agency. Their talks provided a vision for new ways of interacting with mobile technology and physical and embodied reality, as the intro to their talk notes:
Our future is not simply about the evolution of new devices as much the interface ecologies around interacting with our data flows. The space of this innovation is happening in what might be called "X Reality" (cross reality), where the virtual and physical intersect. This "X-Reality" allows us to think less about the mobile device and more about mobility.\ The idea that the experience itself is mobile for those to interact anytime, any place and in the context in which they choose.
Their talks were quite short and my note-taking isn't what it used to be. Considering the brevity of their presentations and my notes, I only have highlights of their points. But it is so interesting, I thought I'd share it here.

Rami presented three key points for understanding and innovating in the mobile sector:

1) Proximity is powerful 
We have the ability to recognize a user's location and deliver content that speaks to the physical situation people are in.

2) Connect with context
Mobile media allows us to understand people and their physical and online circumstances. When we connect with user's context and deliver relevant experiences it can make for very powerful experiences.

3) Patterns are everywhere
People are creatures of habit, but we need to better understand the patterns of people, for instance how people move through spaces, to deliver meaningful and optimized experiences.

Rami also spoke on the concept of cross reality. Opposed to augmented reality, Rami notes that
"cross reality is not a virtual layer on top of the physical layer but rather a combining the two together in a relevant way".

It was the first time I heard this term, so I googled it. It seems to be gaining popularity (although some people are using it for exclusively physical and digital animations). I find it is similar to the concept of hybrid space, but I like the concept's focus on a harmonious blending of equally important spaces.

Howard presented on a bunch of different ways mobiles are already intersecting with physical reality and our bodies.  Howard presented a call-to-arms for mobile developers and companies to avoid getting trapped in existing paradigms of what mobiles can - or should be. He urged us to "stop thinking of devices but rather the interaction with the data they facilitate".

Citing the work of the artists collective Graffiti Group, Howard believes mobiles enable the city to act as an interface. He added that developers should "embrace non-usefullness" as way to create innovative and pleasing mobile content.

Sadly, this is a high-level report on the many interesting concepts and projects Howard and Rami spoke about. I'd love to hear more from them as I'm excited to hear of people here in Toronto pursuing similar approaches to what I'm investigating in my research.

No comments: