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July 21, 2008

Breaking the mould of mobile behaviour

INTERNATIONAL – As a member of the Nokia Design Studio research team, Younghee Jung is on the vanguard of behavioural science and if you pop along to her blog you’ll discover all manner of ruminations and insights into how we interact with our mobile devices.

One of her more recent posts centres on the proliferation of Near Field Communication (NFC) in the Far East and how its acceptance and uptake has been a gradual process. Japan’s Mobile Suica service – this includes payment using your mobile, gleaning further info from poster and of course e-ticketing – has been around since 2006 but only now has just been embraced by the small majority of Japanese citizens.

So why has it taken so long for NFC to become widely accepted? Implementing a seamless working infrastructure is one major hurdle but Younghee points out that the other biggest challenge is changing the perceptions of how we interact and behave with our mobiles.

“I had a chance to probe how Chinese people think about touch or near-touch interface a couple of weeks ago. While the metro ticket system in Shanghai is same as Oyster (UK) or Suica, most people could not think of any other use of a similar system beyond that. On the other hand, their understanding of Bluetooth wireless technology seemed to confuse many people about possibilities and benefits of Near Field interaction.” Younghee Jung

And of course the benefits are endless (see Younghee’s article Gradual Dissemination: The Usefulness of Touch), but educating the phone user to the powers of NFC and more importantly engaging users (who currently are accustomed to sharing info using wireless, talk, text and email technology) with the physical touch behaviour required for NFC, is the underlying issue.

Nokia’s Head of Near Field Communication, Jeremy Belostock, believes seeing NFC in action will help school sceptics to the major advantage of a touch-to-pay world while he believes that NFC interaction will eventually become as ubiquitous as SMS – watch our video interview.

So do you think it’s just a case of changing people’s perceptions on how we interact with our mobile phones? What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the success of NFC technology and new breeds of touch communication? Let us know by posting your comments below.

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Photo from Younghee Jung