Do smartphones need to become any smarter?

As smartphones continue to become more powerful, announcements of novel hardware developments are few and far between. The same happened with PCs as pure grunt eventually became the focus of development attention and peripherals assumed greater significance. At the same time, the abundance of developments in personal healthcare and fitness signal a market opportunity which may change the smartphone forever by focusing development attention on the peripherals.

Are we witnessing the end of smartphone development?


[Photo credits: Google, Sony] Continue reading

Doing it differently

Every now and then, a new product is launched which stands out as being different from its competitors – not because it is doing something new, but because of the way it does it.


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The underlying drivers may be design as in the case of this iconic Alessi juicer, efficiency as in the case of Dyson, or necessity as exemplified by the Pompidou Centre. Continue reading

Augmented reality delivers consumer wow

New technology brings new features, surprises and delight – almost daily. As expectations ratchet up with every passing month it becomes ever harder to impress consumers. From time to time a great new service or product grabs the attention of key influencers, the wind blows in the right direction, all the stars line up perfectly and the whole thing takes off. More often than not though, it doesn’t work out like that and great products fail to reach critical mass.

Augmented reality app Blippar recently caught my eye with its “Talking pack” label. It is a great app, with tremendous potential for consumers, brands, retailers, merchandisers and advertisers. They have already launched more than 750 campaigns for many big name brands, with more than 3 million users.

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Requirements definition – something’s missing from online and embedded dictionaries

Online and embedded dictionaries fail to deliver the same features as their printed predecessors. They’re brilliant at quickly providing a definition, but that’s all they do.

In defining the original requirements for these dictionaries, it seems likely that only those features directly relating to the specific application were implemented (ie providing a definition for a selected word). Printed dictionaries do more than that though:

  • Printed dictionaries provide definitions of alphabetically adjacent words.
  • Printed dictionaries lend themselves to browsing.
  • Printed dictionaries reinforce the alphabet sequence.

Where online and embedded dictionaries clearly succeed is with their near-instant response times which cannot be matched by their printed versions. Their portability cannot be ignored either. Other enhancing features such as example uses and integration with online thesauri suggest that these dictionaries are here to stay.

Dictionary Continue reading

Customising physical products – how far to go with smartphones?

Is “being different” becoming a new differentiator itself?  As websites deliver an increasingly personal experience, can we expect more from physical products? Will the arrival of the Moto X raise the bar in terms of what can be achieved in consumer-customisation, or is it merely a short-term profile-raiser? Will the manufacturers of monolithic plastic slab phones continue to concentrate on black and white, leaving third parties to provide colour through after-market covers? And why can’t phones be designed to survive the real world?Umbrellas Continue reading

Switching off & on again – it’s here to stay

“Have you tried switching off and on again?” is usually the first question you are asked when you explain that something isn’t working. And of course it usually works.

On sensing my frustration at a spreadsheet which somehow “wasn’t working”, my six year old son suggested that I switch the computer off & on again. It was then that I realised just how ingrained and natural this behaviour has become.power_button

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