Archive pour la catégorie ‘Mobilité/Mobility

Réalité augmentée sur IPhone

Mardi 7 juillet 2009

Depuis quelques temps on pouvait voir fleurir des initiatives d’applications de réalité augmentée. Pour la plupart de simples « joujous » en Flash.

Mais voilà l’Iphone 3Gs, ses capteurs et sa caméra vidéo. Acrossair, une société anglaise démarre en trombe et se lance la première dans une application de réalité augmentée enfin utile…

« Sortir de l’ennuyeuse carte 2D du métro » pour proposer un guide du Tube Londonien « réel », telle est l’idée de l’équipe d’Acrossair. La démo vidéo sur YouTube semble y parvenir…

Mais ce que je trouve intéressant dans cette news, c’est que cette agence, plutôt que de créer un énième gadget, à pris le parti de faire une application utile et de démontrer que la réalité augmentée pouvait très concrètement nous apporter un bénéfice dans notre quotidien.

A tester bientôt donc, à condition d’avoir un Iphone 3Gs, d’être à Londres et qu’Apple très vite l’inscrive dans son AppStore…

The future of mobile phones? It’s South Korea

Mardi 26 mai 2009

Highly recommended: this article in New York Times In South Korea, All of Life Is Mobile. It describes how the younger – and also less younger – generations in that country use their mobile phones for… well, practically anything. Identification, pocket money, payment in stores, television set, book reader, magazine, music player, internet, yellow pages and so on and so forth. The number of things they can do with phones is dazzling. I especially like the example of sending your friend a gift, a pre-paid Starbucks coffee, which she then can pick up by showing the gift icon on her mobile at any Starbucks. Paying by mobile instead of cash or credit card is called T-Money.

A university lets their students use mobiles as ID cards, because, as all students, they would much sooner forget their ID card than leave home without their mobile. No need for a wallet (a relief for those whose wallets, like mine, have been stolen) and I am quite sure they  have inventive solutions for stolen phones. I wouldn’t be surprised if a stolen phone becomes useless by itself, or engages in self-destruction, or takes the thief to the closest police station because it knows exactly the thief’s location – and that of all the police stations in the city.

The fact I found most fascinating is that a young person in South Korea changes his or her phone once a year. I don’t quite see it happening around here. Yet.

Mobile phones more important than coffee, or how to impress an Italian

Mardi 12 mai 2009

A Yahoo survey conducted in Italy shows that cellphone (affectionately called « telefonino » in Italian), internet and e-mail are nowadays more important to Italians than coffee. 43% of Italians would not accept to live without a cellphone, against 24% who would not accept to live without coffee. 61% of Italians say to feel lost without a cellphone when traveling.
Having recently traveled to Sicily and back I could witness this mobile phone addiction of Italians. What is the first thing any person does after the airplane touches ground and the « fasten seat belt » lights go off? Correct, switch on his or her mobile phone. As I was waiting in the ail to go to the exit, with my mobile in my hand, I looked around me and saw an Italian women get not one, not two, but three different mobile phones from her purse. She switched them on one by one and then checked the messages and the missed calls – one by one. I turned to my left and saw an Italian man holding not one, not two, but three cellphones (all different, of course), which he was switching on and checking one by one. The guy next to him was not quite as advanced: he was looking only at two cellphones and feeling no doubt suddenly inferior to his neighbor. But definitely superior to me.

Electric cars and lateral thinking

Lundi 20 avril 2009

Shai Agassi, a former SAP Products and Technology President and now CEO of an Israeli startup Better Place, has a world-changing ambition: to liberate us from our dependency on oil. Better Place is designing the new electric car. The New York Times article Batteries not included describes the challenges Mr. Agassi is trying to overcome. The moment could not be chosen better: global warming, recent oil crisis, financial crisis leading to difficult times in the traditional automotive industry. And if Mr. Agassi cannot make us switch to clean cars, I don’t know who can.
One of the problems in owing an electric car is the need to recharge its batteries. But in an « aha » moment Mr. Agassi comes up with a paradigm change: « The auto industry’s conceptual error, he says, is in regarding the battery as a built-in component of the car, like a gas tank. Instead, you could think of the battery as more analogous to gas itself — an entity that goes in and out of a car as needed, owned not by the driver but by the company that sells you the fuel. »
If you like reading novels by great Russian authors of the 19th century, you probably know that before the railroads Russia had a vast system of horse-powered coach traveling. Russia being a big country one set of horses was not enough to travel from, say, your main house in St. Petersburg and your summer house somewhere in the country. For this existed a large network of mail stations, where passenger and mail coaches could change their horses, which were state property. The horses were fed, allowed to rest and got to ride the next coach. This system was commonplace in the whole of 19th century Europe and already existed in Roman times, the changing stations known as « mutationes ».
A truly good idea never runs out of batteries.

Tabbee or not tabbee

Mardi 7 avril 2009

Orange is introducing Tabbee, a multimedia tablet for « everywhere around the house and all the members of your family. » It has a 800×600 touchscreen and looks a little bit like a Macintosh display reduced to small size. Reading the text on the introduction website made me wonder about the underlying use scenarios.
The tablet can be carried around in your house and gives access « at any moment » to a range of information services, internet included. How often do we have the urge to consult the weather or our calendar while walking around our house? And even if you decide to walk around your house carrying the tablet wouldn’t you sit down to surf the net? And is a 800×600 screen then not somewhat on a small side for viewing websites?
The tablet can connect to your PC by wi-fi (so you DO still own a PC), on which you find your own stuff. I am not sure the tablet can store any stuff by itself and if not, it becomes an expensive PC remote viewer. Why then not carry around your laptop if your want to watch a movie quietly in your room?
The site does mention one believable use case, however: having the internet recipe before your eyes in the kitchen. Now there, I say, Orange did their user research well. You see, an average kitchen in Paris wouldn’t fit you AND your computer at once. It hardly fits you AND your kitchen equipment at once and you have to be truly creative in using the space. But then you would want to hang the tablet on the wall, because the wall is the only place left. In my kitchen, anyway.

Other experts like you

Lundi 23 mars 2009

A friend who just moved back to France after a long time in US complained about not having a French version of Yelp, a social review service allowing you « to decide on the best place to eat in any part of the country within minutes ». The service exists due to kind souls who sit down after a good meal (or a bad one) and write something about it. You’d be surprised how many kind souls there are if you look at the site. And not so kind ones too. Personally I wonder whether the urge to write a bad review is not slightly stronger than to write a good one (after a good meal you are satisfied, after a bad one you still crave something), which would make this kind of service unbalanced. But this is not the point. The point is that for a large number of things we now more often consult opinions of people « like ourselves » rather than experts on the subject. We « rely on the kindness of strangers » rather than institutions.
We had encyclopedia, written by scholars, now we have Wikipedia, written by… well, everybody. We had travel guides written by journalists, whose job it was to visit those places, now we go a social network to talk to other travelers. We had search engines, now we prefer to Twitter our question or pose it in our Facebook status. Someone would always answer and the answer would probably be exactly what we asked for, because those people happen to know us – and institutions do not.
One could argue that we now let ourselves be misled more often. But one could also argue that all information is always in some way subjective.
Just consider how many institutions are now on their way if not to extinction than at least to a profound transformation. Phone books. Yellow pages. Travel agencies – does anyone still go to those? Travel guides. Folding maps, so impractical when you have GPS on your mobile. Cook books – the last time you bought one was probably to give it to somebody as a present, and this person put it on the shelf and never looked at it again. « How-to » books – we have a YouTube category for that. Dictionaries – long live spell checker. Paper agendas – not flexible enough anymore. And so on.
In Italy I came across a typical British public phone booth, now a curiosity in somebody’s garden. Italians cannot live through a day without their mobile phone, so I thought this illustrates well my point.

Soon the world will be just one big googlemap

Vendredi 20 février 2009

I love the little yellow man on Google maps, navigating my favorite city, in which I also happen to live, among photographic images. I can show my house to my mom, who lives far away, and say: look, I am on the sixth floor, and this is my window. Some kind soul took the pictures and Google assembled them rather seamlessly. Paris is one of the cities mapped this way completely. When last week a friend called to consult me whether she should take a certain rental apartment, I let the little yellow man jump to the number on the street that she gave me, had a look around, glanced up and down the building she would be living in, looked how close she was to some points of interest and said: yes, you should.
I love Google maps. I make maps for my friends with pins popping up useful information about things in any location to which we would be traveling together. It’s not Google Maps for me anymore, it’s a googlemap, a tool so useful, it becomes a term in itself. But so far it is limited to my computer’s screen. I am yet not one of the 10% of world’s mobile phone users who, according to this article in New York Times, use navigational tools on their phones.
The article explores new trends and opportunities of the future use of maps on mobile phones. It describes scenarios on how you would be able to see a friend dining just two blocks away, or simply orienting yourself when emerging from a metro station you have never been to before. You would hold up your mobile to an urban landscape and see an enhanced image of it – together with the information about the real things in front of you. Because, you see, it would not only be the maps. When you arrive in a foreign country your phone would tell you the way to the airport shuttle service and how to pronounce « One ticket to downtown » in Italian. It will become your very own pocket googlemap.

The tram experience in Amsterdam

Lundi 5 janvier 2009

Going to another country is always an opportunity to stumble upon interesting examples of design in public spaces. Below the monitor on the tram number 10 in Amsterdam, indicating, from left to right, the next stop (« Volgende halte »), the 4 stops to come after that and the destination (« Bestemming »). The tram line number is in the left bottom corner, not very visible on this picture (taken with my mobile).
I am quite a fan of Dutch design, which I usually find clear and efficient, even if this particular example is aesthetically not the most elegant. Add to this display a friendly voice saying ‘The next stop is…’ and you get a very reassuring user experience of public transport, especially for the tourists who, unlike me, do not know the city.
Stop display in Tram 10, Amsterdam

The next train

Mercredi 17 décembre 2008

I like Paris metro line number 14. It’s the only line, which is never on strike. Why? It is fully automatic. The stations are modern, clean, the trains spacious and light, and the ‘user experience’ is, so to say, very pleasant. Not that I don’t like the ‘traditional’ metro lines in Paris – I do. Even when the stations are a little bit old, a little bit smelly, the light a little bit yellowish, the trains small and crowded, the advertising huge and the strikes as regular as public holidays.
One thing that surprises me as not very well considered, in terms of user experience on line 14, is the traffic prediction monitor. You see a blue screen with small white characters, which you can only read from very close. So, if you want to know when your train is coming, you have to go look for this information. And what will you see? The first and the second train, its destination and the expected time in minutes AND seconds. Something like this:
Saint-Lazare 0min 40sec
Saint-Lazare 2min 40sec
The thing is, on line 14 there can be only one destination in each direction, so why repeat ‘Saint-Lazare’? And does the user really need to know how many seconds still remain? Besides, it will take you some time to figure out, what time it is and the whole monitor looks like an old Windows computer with a permanent fatal error.
Station Olympiades, line 14
Consider, on the contrary, the monitor on most ‘old’ stations. Practically from the any spot on the quay you will be able to read the direction of the line, the current time, the expected time before the first and the second train – in minutes. I find it a fine example of an economical and self-explaining information design, taking into account its visibility and immediate understanding.
Paris metro station
Somehow I find the second monitor to look much more modern than the first.

Here is an older article on information design in Moscow metro.

La signalétique à la Ratp

Mardi 16 décembre 2008

Gare de Lyon, pour trouver la ligne 14, vous avez le choix, tout droit : vous sortez directement dehors (oups: erreur demi-tour); gauche vous arriverez alors sur un panneau ligne 14 à droite (encore demi-tour) et si vous prenez à droite vous arriverez sur un panneau ligne 14 à gauche… et je vais ou sinon ? Car la je tourne un peu en rond. A se demander si ils ont au moins une fois testé leur signalétique avec des utilisateurs.