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December 14, 2011

5 incredible ways mobile design will change in the next 5 years

Alan Kay, the American Computer Scientist, is famed for saying “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. Head of Design Strategy and Foresight, Sondre Ager-Wick, helps Nokia to do just that. What better person then to ask about the evolution of mobile design?

DIY design

Hackers get a pretty bad press, but apparently that’s all set to change. In the near future people will still be taking concepts and adapting them for their own use. However, instead of trying to stop them, Sondre believes companies will embrace them. “Take Microsoft.” Sondre says. “Within weeks of launching Kinect, someone had hacked it and there was open source code on the Internet. Instead of freaking out, they decided to run with it and create a software development kit. It’s thinking like this that will make personalization and co-creation a key driver for how brands and companies create closer relationships with their customers.

via New Scientist (click on the image to view the full video)

Electronically enhanced senses

Mobile technology has empowered us in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago, yet according to Sondre things are set to get even better. In fact, he says mobiles will be designed to give us almost super human powers. “If you look at the health industry,” Sondre says, “they’re currently working on smartphone applications to help people with disabilities. The same technologies and types of enhancing applications are now coming into the consumer domain. Take Blindtype by Google, which enables you to type without looking or point to text to translate apps.  Soon you’ll even be able to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you in real time.”

The smartification of everything

Today, most people who buy a smartphone want it to be everything and to have as many apps as possible. But this could all soon change. According to Sondre the smartphone will be stripped back to its fundamental functions as part of a family of objects that belong together and which use apps specific to them. Tablets, for example, will be used for more immersive experiences like gaming. Smartphones for more practical things like payments. “Rather than use a pile apps, people will use specific apps that are useful for when they’re out and about.” He says.  “When your watch has time keeping and sports apps, why have them on your mobile, too?” The smartification of everything is taking the smartphone concept and introducing it to the car, the home and a range of new and existing products, alike.

via telegraphtv

Less digital bling. More content first

Currently, most digital interfaces attempt to recreate reality by mimicking a three dimensional shape. Icons have shadows and are so glossy they look like they’ve been waxed. According to Sondre, this chrome or digital bling will soon be a thing of the past. “Expect the digital space to be a lot more about direct content. Forget needing an app icon to access what is essentially a folder. We’ll be moving to a new paradigm, which is content driven. Take Windows Phone. There are no glossy icons. Its just squares, which give you content as soon as possible. Every icon is a monotonic, flat graphic image, which celebrates typography and colour. What’s more it has live moving content shown right on the tiles, as opposed to a “dead” glossy app grid.”

Getting serious about play

Mobile gaming has exploded in the last decade and the industry is now worth 8 billion dollars a year. Hardly surprising when you learn Angry Birds has been downloaded over 140 million times. However, if Sondre’s predictions are true, game playing is set to become even more pervasive. “We’ll be seeing a lot more of serious play.” he says. “This isn’t about games themselves becoming more popular, but taking game logic and elements into the design of everyday applications. The aim is to make them more engaging and easier to learn, while encouraging new behavior. For example, weight loss apps or carbon footprint apps, which reward you with upgrades or new functionality. Mobile technology will be designed to increasingly make a game out of everything.”

What do you think? Do Sondre’s predictions make sense? If not, how do you see mobile design evolving in the next five years? Head to @Nokia_Connects and let us know.