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The Future of Telephonic Communication

February 23, 2008

I’m going to write a longer segment on the future of electronic conversations in a day or so, but today I want to talk about some interesting advances in cell phones that I read about recently. These are all innovations created by companies who are thinking about their audience, which is really important. The first is ingenious, the second is clever, and the last is an interesting novelty.

  1. Zzzphone: A Chinese company called Zzzphone has created a system for ordering your phone based on what many computer and car companies already do. They let you choose exactly what you want on your phone. No longer do you have to buy a camera on a phone for which you’ll never use the camera. Same goes for internet, texting, GPS, everything–if you need it, you add it to the phone when you order it; if you don’t, you drop it. You even get to choose your own label for the phone. I understand that the ideas of mass production help keep costs down, but why hasn’t a company done this before?
  2. Shake It: The Sony Ericsson W910, which has yet to come to America, has a pretty cool feature. If you’re listening to music on the phone and you want to change the song, instead of searching for the right button, you just give the phone a little shake. And the song changes. I think this is the perfect example of melding technology with human instinct and behavior, similar to what the iPhone has done with the interactive touch screen.
  3. Passion Phones: A South Korean company called KFT now provides users with information about how a caller feels based on their voice patterns. It’s called “love detection,” and is meant to determine if caller cares about you. The information is provided in real time with a “love meter” at the bottom of your cell phone screen. This idea is mostly just a novelty, and I would hope that most people would be able to tell if a person has feelings of passion and affection by simply listening to them, but perhaps some people would find it useful.

Overall, I think the ideas of customization and physical user interaction with phones (and with technology in general) are a big part of the future. People don’t want to buy things they don’t need, and people shouldn’t have to read complex manuals to figure out how to use their phone. It should be intuitive and interactive.

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