Smart Phones

Time For a “Touch Skin”.

I like watches. The craftsman ship that goes into a fine time piece like a Rolex, Tag Heuer, Pannerai, or Patek Phillipe is truly outstanding. I also like my smartphone. Now the craftsmanship that goes into the smartphone isn’t the same as a hand made watch, but the design experience that goes into the user interface, form factor, user experience etc. is every bit as detailed. As far as I am concerned on the iPhone it is.

Over the last decade or so, watch sales have declined, and the watch industry blamed mobile phones as the number one culprit. Who needs a watch when your phone has a clock right? The good news for watch makers is, watch sales are on the rise, and that leads me to the “Touch Skin Watch” designed by Niels Astrup.

Touch Skin was awarded the third place prize in the Samsung sponsored 2012 Design That Performs competition, and rightly so. Building off of the reality that the classic analog face of a watch or clock is universally embedded within the cultural consciousness of almost every society in the world, Astrup used it as inspiration for the Touch Skin Watch. This watch gives the end user an analog experience without giving up the modern touch screen functionality of a smart phone. The watch comes with skins that can be downloaded to the watch, allowing the OLED screen to be customized to meet the needs of the individual user. The design of the watch is clean and classic keeping true to it’s analog roots.

Touch Skin weighs around 80 grams, and features a 16GB micro SD RAM which is upgradable. The prototype watch runs on a multi-core ARM or Nvidia Tegra Type II/III processor. The watch’s face is covered in 0.46mm thick Gorilla glass which covers the 16 million color multitouch screen. The case is made from anodized aluminum with the bracelet  constructed from natural FSC-certified rubber.

No word about this watch going into production, but I hope this guy fires up a Kickstarter campaign to get it rolling.

Touch Skin is the ultimate digital accessory – A touch sensitive watch that combines tradition and transcendence via classic minimalist analogue watch design.

Touch Skin fits in neatly with existing gadgets and is thought of as an accessory that can follow you in all situations of your daily life. From the morning when you wake, customize the look of the watch to match your dress code with the build- in watch designs. If you are not satisfied you can always connect the watch to your computers Bluetooth and download new skins or design your own from the Touch Skin App. Touch Skin is notseen as a smartphone watch, however future skin development opens up to this direction.

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Mobile Marketing Stats and Facts for 2011.

Over at the Microsoft community blog “Microsoft Tag” they have posted a new info graphic showing the projected statistics for mobile phone use in 2011 worldwide

Some interesting facts show that more than 1 billion of the 4 billion mobile phone users are now using smartphones, with 3 billion shooting SMS messages on a daily basis. And to show just how fast people are moving away from desktop and laptop computer experiences for smart mobile solutions, they predict that by 2014 mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens much sooner. The info graphic also shows that already, searches from a mobile device are at 50% and growing.

Some of the more interesting facts deal with social media and entertainment. Microsoft Tag points out that 86% of mobile users are watching TV while using a mobile phone, 200+ million (1/3 of all users) access Facebook from a mobile device and 91% of all mobile internet use is “social” related. This unto itself is huge. Think back 2 years about how you accessed Twitter, Facebook, or watched YouTube videos. Now think about how you engage with these social touch points today. For me, as a person that works with interactive design, and integrated media, this is huge. It really points to the place where people will be interacting with what I make on a daily basis.

Over 70% of the world’s population now have a mobile phone, which breaks down to more than 5 billion mobile subscribers world-wide with more developed nations showing mobile usage at 9 out of 10 people. A rather sad but true statistic is children are now more likely to own a mobile phone than a book, with 85% of children owning a phone compared to 73% owning books.

Apple has sold almost 60 million iPhones world-wide since the iPhones initial launch. Google’s Android OS is growing at 886% year on year and carriers now activate over 160,000 Android devices a day, in more than 40 countries. It is predicted at this rate, Android will come from behind to over take Apple as the leading smart phone OS  this year.

The image below is fairly long, but worth looking at if you do any kind of design or marketing work that has interactive components to it.

“The Witness”. 13th Street Universal’s First Movie of the Outernet.

“The Witness” from Germany production company 13th Street Universal, is a mobile based, interactive game, where those selected to play meet Nadia, the Russian Mafia, and a crime scene. To play, you must apply online. If you are accepted, “You will experience a game like never before.”

The game according to 13th Street Universal, is the “first movie in the outernet” which gives viewers an immersive AR experience through their smartphones. When the game begins, your mission starts where Nadia has been kidnapped, from this point forward the outcome rests in your decisions. Are you the hero or the next victim?

Right now the game can only be played in Berlin, but there is talk of expanding it to other venue cities in the future, depending on the success of this first run.

This is one of those promotions that seem to have everything but the kitchen sink thrown in – augmented reality, smartphones, location-based experiences, real-world interaction, scavenger hunt/gaming mechanics and social networking.

I like the technology being used, and I think the concept behind the experience sounds highly engaging, but I have to wonder; over the course of time how does this idea achieve any scale?

The depth of experience will be difficult to share effectively with video units like this, being pushed to mobile handsets. Then there is the question about limiting activity to one city, or connecting others on a more global scale.

13th Street Universal is probably counting on PR coverage or hoping that this will go viral in order to spread the word. And if they release a more universal version on a larger scale later, they are probably banking on the idea that the winners will be influential enough with their friends to spread the word, and influence participation. It’s hard to say, since this is really the first thing like this that I have seen. One thing though, 13th Street Universal sees the potential of mobile based immersive gaming, and hopefully this will lead to even bigger things.

Knocking around St. Remy, and Arles.

While I have free WiFi at the hotel, I’m going to make a quick post. Most of the day was spent following the path of Vincent van Gogh’s last year spent between Avignon, Arles, and St. Remy.

I spent most of the day walking through Arles and the grounds of the sanitarium outside St. Remy where he had one of his most creative periods, producing 150 paintings in less than a year. The countryside is amazing, and completely inspiring. It’s no wonder he produced so much work in such a short period.

Tomorrow, Nice. Just a short 2 hour drive to the coast in the Alfa, then 2 full days of rest and nothing more. I plan to lay in a deck chair and stair at the sea.

By the way, interesting side note. I would say 80 percent plus of the people in France have a smart phone. Out of those seventy five percent are iPhones. When I ask people why they chose the phone they have, the response was an almost unanimous, “Less expensive than a laptop, more useful, more connected.” it makes sense when you realize how expensive the Internet is and how little high speed Internet they have.