Sony Ericsson announced the main feature of its new K980: To copy-paste text from books and journals by using the camera. It has never been easier to comment a passage of a book.
Comments of books can be made available online for others.
Whenever you find a remarkable passage in a book, just hold the camera of your mobile phone over it, mark the desired text and save it for later commenting or directly make a note.
If you photograph the book cover, the title of the book is automatically added to the comment entry as meta information.
Arguments: Students all over the world would be happy to have an easy way to digitally comment books in order to make a summary of the book and to facilitate research. The main reason why this has not been implemented yet is probably the performance needed for Optical Character Recognition. Another cause can be the limited possibilities to mark text (no touch screen and low screen resolution) and to enter comments on current mobile phones (only keypad).
A very interesting component of this scenario is also the sharing of the comments via internet. Books could become more and more annotated and commented like blog entries.
Can you think of any other causes that hinder the implementation of such an application?
Shoot & Translate - a J2ME application with OCR that translates text. But from the information given it is not clear whether the OCR-part happens on the phone or on a server.
knfb Mobile Reader - an application that reads photographed documents aloud. Especially useful for blind people. Only for Symbian 3rd Edition phones.
ABBYY Mobile OCR SDK - The one year old video on that site shows a mobile OCR application in action. Altough it looks a lot like a pure demo application. The OCR is done by using an already prepared image of a business card.
Beeping is a known phenomenon in Africa. A beep is done by calling and hanging up after one ring. This is a cheap alternative to sending a text message or calling someone.
Daniel Peltz built a simple live feed installation, that allowed Cameroonians to "beep god". A spontaneous public debate occurred around the site of the projection, which lead to several interviews. Watch the video of the installation and the interviews.
The first interviewee made some examples, how different beeps can have different meanings, depending on the context:
The beeping function was created as a means of getting someone to call you back. When I beep someone in Europe, it means "call me back," usually urgently.
But here in Cameroon, what does the beep mean? If I beep you once, it might be to say hello. If I haven't seen you in a while, it could be to say I haven't forgotten about you, I'm thinking of you. It could be to remind you that you should bring me the book you promised. If you take me to the bus in Yaounde and I beep you later, it would mean I've arrived safely. Or, if we're separated and I beep, it could be to say that I've gone back to my house. We've developed a whole system of coded, culturally specific communication.
This corresponds to the statements of Jonathan Donner in his paper "The Rules of Beeping", that the meaning of a beep depends on the context.
The second interviewee states the hypothesis, that Cameroonians (could apply also to other African countries) developed this kind of communication because of their tradition to use drums for communication:
If Cameroonians have expanded the meaning of a beep it is due primarily to their cultural heritage. They have a tradition of communicating through sonic resonance when they used tam-tams for example.
Scenario 1: I walk into a bar and bump into a friend of mine I haven’t seen in a while. I ask him for his contact information so we touch our NFC enabled devices for a split second and we’re now in each other’s address book. He not only gets my name and phone number, but a list of all the services I’m currently using and have set to public. All of this data generated via my publicly declared services is pulled down and aggregated onto his device and is listed under my entry in his address book, think of it as FaceBook’s Newsfeed, but open and 100% under my control. Later that night I decide I want to let him access my personal blog so I go into my device and grant him the ability to see my private blog entries. He doesn’t have to do anything since the list of services I use is in my contact card and when I manipulate permission settings they automatically update for the people who have me in their address book. My friends will always knows what I’m up to and I don’t have to tell him to check out a particular website to see my data, it is my data after all, the fact that I have it being displayed on service A versus service B does not and should not make a difference.
Scenario 2: I walk into a bar I regularly enjoy coming to with friends and sit down at a table. Since the bar is in my address book it knows I’m a trusted party, I tap my NFC enabled device to the corner of a display near me and a menu appears with meals and drinks based on my previous orders, not only that, I get to see recommendations and ratings my friends left the last time they were in here. This information isn’t hosted by the servers in the bar, instead the UI pulls data that my friends left for this particular establishment which is either hosted on their devices or in their storage clouds. I can read it because they’ve granted me permission. I use my mobile device as a remote control, the touch screen acts as a trackpad, to order a drink and pay for it. Around 10 seconds after I finish making that purchase the screen fades out and the basketball game with my favorite college team shows up, this is possible because my mobile device is smart enough to know my preferences for the type of media I like to consume and can communicate that information to the display.
Thanks to the host of the UsabilityBlog Paul Sherman for letting me do that guest post!
A copy of the post is archived below. If you want to make comments about the post, you can do them at the UsabilityBlog.
Wrong Assumptions, Sony Ericsson PC Suite
Every time I connected my Sony Ericsson phone to my Windows PC, I got reminded of an annoying feature of Sony Ericssons PC Suite: The time checker, that checks if the time of the cell phone is the same as the time of the PC (see picture below).
Every time it popped up and asked me, if I wanted to change the time of my cell phone. The program assumed, that the time of the PC was always correct, but the opposite was the case: The cell phone time was correct, but the time of Windows was wrong. So I always had to select "No". The funny thing is: "Yes" had the addition "Every time I connect. Do not show this message again", but "No" didn't have such a checkbox.
Only about 30 seconds difference, but PC Suite sees immediate need for action...
What to learn from this mistake
Make the right assumptions. Here it was assumed that the time of Windows is always correct, which may not always be the case.
Give the user the possibility to disable an unwanted feature. Especially if it is an annoying pop-up window
Note: The current Version of PC Suite is Version 3. This discussed time-checker-feature was implemented until Version 2. Nevertheless, it's a good example for bad usability.
There are a lot of possibilities to extend the application. The most interesting would be to connect information from other sensors with this information:
Location-Information: It would be possible to see on a map, where you discovered the Bluetooth devices
Motion-Sensor: With access to the motion sensor, it would be possible to search more often for other devices, when someone is walking. At the moment the application looks every 2 minutes for Bluetooth devices nearby. For example the IPhone or the Sony Ericsson W910i has such a functionality.
Related work BlueJackX - Same functionality as Bluetooth Logger, but this only works on Symbian-Smartphones. Blooover - Does no logging, but works also on Java enabled cell phones and is used to find weak spots of Bluetooth devices
For desktop computers there are tons of applications, so I won't list them here. Check out NetStumbler for Windows, which is very popular for Wardriving.