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April 29, 2008

NOKIA DESIGN EVENT: Ever wondered why your phone lights up when it rings?

LONDON, England – Okay, not something we’ve spent a huge amount of time thinking about, but when Jan Chipchase, a specialist in user-centred design at Nokia revealed why, it actually made plenty of sense.

Jan spends his time, along with Younghee Jung, travelling the world gathering insights and research which feed and inspire the Nokia Design Studio team.

Through their research, they found that 61% of women carry their phone in a bag (60% of men carry it in their front right pocket). They also found however, that 50% of women who carry their phone in a bag miss incoming calls and texts. How does Nokia help reduce that figure? “We make it light up so it’s easier to find when you’re searching around in your bag” says Chipchase. He hasn’t revealed the solution for men yet.

This kind of insight translating into real world examples shows the benefits of carrying out this kind of research. Every year thousands of people are interviewed and observed, and the data gathered and presented back to the team.

Recently the research team wanted to discover how urban areas would look in 10-15 years from now. Mumbai, Rio and Accra were selected as key cities for urban growth so the team spent months planning field trips to each location, where temporary design studios were set up and concepts and ideas were tested. Locals were brought in to participate and given the opportunity to create their own device designs.

As Alastair Curtis pointed out in his opening presentation, so it’s clear to see how important people, and their needs, are used to influence the products we see next. Now, if only they could create something that tells me my phone is ringing when I’m walking. And for the record, I carry my N95 in my front left pocket. The right pocket is for my wallet.