Location-based interaction design

Wired News reports on using a Bluetooth wireless enabled cell phone to interact with an Apple Powerbook. The interesting thing is using existing devices (the phone) to extend the interaction possible with the computer, rather than relying on yet another gadget. Examples from the article include controlling Keynote/PowerPoint presentations, or locking/unlocking the computer based on leaving or sitting down.

The implication is that design for mobile/wireless isn't just about tiny screens and impoverished keypads, as so many assume - it's about interaction with connected devices, connected services, and with movement through space. This might seem a no-brainer, but it certainly requires new thinking and techniques in addition to our traditional IA toolbox. Marc Rettig's Designing for Small Screens 1.4MB PDF touches on some of this, but I still think we've got a huge amount to learn about mobile user experience.

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Extensively used

I have been using this software extensively since beta. It's called Sony Ericsson Clicker and is written by Jonas Salling. See salling.com. It works with most of the latest Sony Ericsson mobile phones.

It allows you to control your mac remotely using your phone. You can write menu items to your phone which trigger apple scripts on you mac. Numerous scripts are included such as:

- Control iTunes remotely. Pause, play, next song etc. You can also show the current song info on the phone.
- Control DVD player. Pause, play, next chapter, volume etc
- Control Powerpoint. Next slide, previous slide etc

It also supports a proximity detector (ie, is your phone within the 10meter bluetooth range). Uses include putting your mac to sleep when you leave the room.

Apparently a user has added a 3rd party electrical controller to his mac and is using his phone to control the lighting in his house. Since you can create your own phone menus it is easy to create a good usable menu system for this. Eg:

- main light
- table light
Living room
- front light
- back light

To read more about how to do this see Findley studios site. They have a complete description of how to set up your mac to do this.

The new Sony Ericsson phones use intuitive joysticks (that you press down to click with) that make the navigation fast and user friendly.