Archive for May 5th, 2011

Capsule Tech: PaperPhone and Snaplet

Though the novel itself has been somewhat placed on the back burner, I still look for an enjoy those little bits of real-world technology that bring things just that one step closer to the 2070s I’m building for Capsule.  Today, it’s the PaperPhone, as profiled on Engadget.  It uses a new technology called ductile e-ink to provide a display that can be curved, rolled, and even worn on the wrist.  Now, as e-ink it’s got a display much like the Kindle, which means gray-scale, but also with a load time between screens and no ability for animation.  Looks like it’s also awkward for receiving calls.  But this isn’t intended to be consumer grade, yet.  It’s a proof of concept, and the concept is pretty damn cool.

Part of the goal is to see just how people would interact with such a device, what gestures feel natural, something to keep in mind whenever developing technology either in real life or in literature. People want technology to be comfortable to use, and they want gestures that make sense while not being overly complicated. Sure, pretending to crumple something up and toss it over your shoulder might seem a logical gesture for throwing something away, but it’s too complicated. But simpler gestures like page turning, and sliding are more logical and easier to perform. Just look at any of the videos of people, whether very young or old, using the iPad for the first time and requiring no explanation of the gestures involved. And on the other end…well, there’s GMail’s April Fools video:

Overwrought gestures in real life would result in lack of adoption and frustrated users. In literature or on screen, they’re just silly. Which is fine if that’s what you’re going for, but otherwise keep the gestures simple and intuitive.

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