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Future(?) Design of Mobile Phones

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the well-ok-not-quite dept.

162

Sad Loser writes "The future of the mobile phone is here, or at least a bunch of Nokia-sponsored industrial design students' take on the problem. The BBC also has more pictures." Most of these designs are quite silly (a necklace with squeezable beads for an address book?) but at least amusing.

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if this is the future... (3, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531577)

If this is what the future holds, I think I need to get started with my curmudgeonly rantings about how great cell phones were in the past.

Re:if this is the future... (1)

dubmun (891874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531673)

No kidding!

It looks like only one or two of these phones were designed by anyone who understands a basic principal: form follows function.

The real cellphone of the future? Maybe an earpiece with a single button to activate voice commands...

Re:if this is the future... (5, Funny)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531790)

Please. I'm holding out for the artificial molar that allows perfect sound reproduction through bone conduction [wikipedia.org] , and removes one of the last visual cues that distinguish me from a raving lunatic: a visible phone.

I'll walk down the street talking to myself, and smacking myself in the face whenever I lose signal, and (this is the good bit) I'll never get panhandled again.

Re:if this is the future... (1)

Ixitar (153040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532254)

You need to see The President's Analyst (1967) [imdb.com] . There is a wonderful bit about the phone company and what you say that you desire.

Re:if this is the future... (1)

jrmcferren (935335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531805)

Yeah, cell phone design has been fucked up since the StarTac. We don't need whereable phones, digital technology, text messaging, cameras, and all of that shit. I wish that voice mail was never invented (so I can let my girlfriend's phone ring continuously instead of hearing "Your call has been fowarded to an automatic voice message system." I'm probably burning karma here, but, please, bring back the analog MicroTacs with the .6 watts of power. I can't even get a Tri-Mode Phone, and in some areas, analog is the most reliable mode.

Re:if this is the future... (5, Funny)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531827)

Screw that, if this is what the future holds -- I'm going to enroll in whatever program they're in and design a cellphone that is also a baseball bat. That way, when future-people are talking on their annoying cellphone anal-beads or whatever, I can take out my cellphone and have the satisfaction of bludgeoning them to death.

Re:if this is the future... (2, Insightful)

jbash (784046) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531891)

That's true. Not a single one was just a simple damn phone that a.) works as a phone is supposed to, and b.) is solidly constructed to withstand the beating that a heavily used phone goes through.

The cell phone industry is ripe for the taking for the 1st company that comes out with a cell phone that is simple and as easy to use (and indestructable) as a home phone.

Re:if this is the future... (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531933)

Mate, these are design students. These are models are more about making people think about the future, than future products.

They are competing for an internship at Nokia. I don't think they would get it if they hand in a Nokia 3110. It is about creating something wild, that fulfills a particular role.

If you can't find a phone that is easy to use (Motorola C117, C139) - then maybe, just maybe it is you.

This page is INCREDIBLY GAY (0, Flamebait)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532097)

Let me be the first to say this. Like designs from SECOND GRADERS. There is no application. Whoever wrote this page SUCKS nuts.

Re:if this is the future... (1)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532113)

One of the biggest sellers I saw in a department store was a "gag" accessory: a bakelite handset you could plug in to your cell phone. Complete with curly cable. I kid you not.

I think the newer trend in telecom devices will be towards devices with a slight heft to them. More rugged devices, ones that feel like they won't bust when you drop them or get caught in a rainstorm. People have a psychological tendency to equate dense and solid equipment with quality and durability, so I expect manufacturers to exploit that with vanity weight.

I also think the other trend will be to go in the other direction, to modularise and divide the phone up even further. You could take base element the size of a USB stick and plug it into your car stereo, your mobile or your bigger home phone. It would let customers have the feeling that their data goes with them on the stick, and they can then shoose the device that fits the job. It could even possibly work as a phone by itself, drawing its inspiration from Star Trek's phaser type I/type II configuration.

Re:if this is the future... (2, Funny)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532320)

I feel quite nostalgic for the days of phones styled after military field radios with car-battery sized fuel packs, when men were men and sheep were worried.
Er...sorry, lost it there for a sec.

As usual (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531593)

As usual, most of these designs aren't even possible and won't be possible in the near future. What do they teach these design students anyway? Seems more like an art-college for the artistically challenged.

Re:As usual (2, Funny)

markild (862998) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531612)

Seems more like an art-college for the artistically challenged.
That's why they make concept designs. So that we feel better about their regular designs.

Re:As usual (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532004)

I saw this article on the BBC earlier today. My immediate thought then was "Viral Marketing".

Note the prominence of the Nokia logo in many of the pics. My perhaps cynical belief is that someone at the BBC got a backhander for this piece of fluff. For those of you who don't know, the BBC is heavily restricted regards advertising, but somehow little pieces of infotainment sneak their way onto BBC output most days.

I don't really believe it's about the designs. It's to make Joe Sixpack go "ooh aah, Nokia clever, me buy Nokia!

Re:As usual (3, Funny)

andphi (899406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532077)

Given that the BBC's intended audience is the Queen's Commonwealth, shouldn't it be Joe Sixpint?

Re:As usual (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532112)

Yes, most of the ideas are bizarre in the extreme. However, the handset that's designed to be used like a picture frame does make a certain amount of sense to me. Given the choice between talking to the back of my cellphone while it's in speakerphone mode and talking to a little pseudo picture-frame on my desk, I'll choose the latter.

Re:As usual (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532195)

There's not much of any usability to be seen here anyway.

And here I thought that was among the most important aspects of design.

Re:As usual (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532359)

No different from any top supermodel fashion show. Those clothing wares aren't for public consumption, just for show to showcase what the designers can do.

Vaguely interesting (3, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531609)

In elementary school, I was in the "gifted" class where they'd ocasionally have us do creative projects liek this instead of normal schoolwork. Most of the results of those were at about the same level of insanity as these. Mine in particular tended to go in more of a rocket-pack/robot motorcyle direction.

When you're nine years old, your zany ideas earn you a spot on the fridge for your new drawing. When you're in college, I guess it earns you a gallery on BBC news.

Purely speculative (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531614)

In my opinion, this is just a hype shot. Does anyone feel even half of these concepts would:
  • Be marketable
  • Encourage sales
  • Be usable by the average consumer (that is, non-savy)


To me, this just seems like clever hype/marketing.

I see (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531615)

The winner of the competition is the Nokia 111 by Daniel Meyer, and this is where the New Age speak goes into overdrive. The phone looks - to our eye - like a candy bar with a hinge in the middle, but it is, apparently: "Inspired both by the advent of video calling and the traditional practice of carrying pictures of friends or family members with you. The handset is designed to sit as a picture frame wherever the user is, serving the dual purpose of communications device and a comforting familiar focal point; at home, at work or in a hotel while away on business."

It's also a great way to carry your porn more portably or annoy everyone in your office with a photo montage of baby pictures.

Forgive my neo-Ludditism, but why does a cell phone have to be more than a phone? I say this as the owner of a Motorola V360, an excellent phone that also happens to have an MP3 player built in, which is one of the more useful accessories a phone could conceivably have, and saved me the trouble of buying another thing to tote around. I have a camera for pictures, but I wouldn't feel the need to set the phone down and display those pictures. Let's not forget, battery life is not all that great and using your phone as a slideshow probably wouldn't help.

Look, either build the über device that does everything or stop trying to load mobile phones down with too much gadgetry.

Re:I see (5, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531658)

Forgive my neo-Ludditism, but why does a cell phone have to be more than a phone?

Because the big, bulky, annoying, expensive part of carrying electronic devices around is a combination of:

  • Screen
  • Keypad
  • Battery

Why carry more than one of each of those around when you don't have to?

Re:I see (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531699)

Why carry more than one of each of those around when you don't have to?

On the one hand it makes sense, but on the other, isn't there some critical mass of things you can cram into a small package at this time? Battery technology being what it is, it seems the more you ask a device to do, the less it will actually be able to do. What's the point of having everything together if you're constantly tied to a power socket to run it all?

And I've noted, that despite such things, I still see plenty of people carrying a mobile phone, Blackberry, iPod, etc. simultaneously, juggling devices and headphones. I don't think people think these things are that useful, mainly because something may be a great phone but a lousy MP3 player. I think when a tool tries to do too much, it is in danger of not doing anything particularly well, especially where there are design tradeoffs that have to made to integrate things.

Re:I see (4, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531796)

isn't there some critical mass of things you can cram into a small package at this time?

Phones have been getting smaller and smaller up until a couple of years ago, where they levelled off. I think that's more to do with the fact that you can't make phones any smaller without making the interface unusable rather than any space issue.

Battery technology being what it is, it seems the more you ask a device to do, the less it will actually be able to do.

Obviously battery life is important, but how many of these features are actually wasting power when they aren't in use? And if they are in use, then what are you saving the power for, if not to use the device?

I think when a tool tries to do too much, it is in danger of not doing anything particularly well

That may be common, but I don't think it's an intrinsic consequence of convergence. And even if separate devices are of a higher quality, two separate devices of high quality aren't necessarily better than a single device that is good enough.

For example, I'm not going to carry a camera everywhere I go. I am going to carry my phone everywhere I go. I might be able to get higher quality photos from a digital camera, but that's of no use to me if I don't have the camera with me when I want to take a photo. Thus the camera phone is of more value than a separate phone and camera, even if the quality is lower. Sure, if I'm going somewhere where I expect to take photos, I'd bring a camera, but that's of absolutely no use to me when most of my photos are taken on the spur of the moment.

Re:I see (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532130)

Why is the average standby time of my now ancient t39m so much better then that of my newer k300i, despite the later having a higher capacity and newer battery?

To add some reasons for not wanting to combine all kinds of devices into one:

  • No phone smaller then a pda has a big enough screen for doing any serious reading (of web content, ebooks and such), let alone for using any slightly complicated software, and I find a pda sized phone uncomfortable for calling..
  • Why should the fact that I spent the last 4 hours reading an ebook/listening to mp3s waste the standby time of my phone?

Re:I see (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532229)

Why is the average standby time of my now ancient t39m so much better then that of my newer k300i, despite the later having a higher capacity and newer battery?

You'd have to ask the makers. It could be for any number of reasons unrelated to convergence. If you wish to claim that convergence was the cause, please say so and offer evidence beyond idle speculation.

Why should the fact that I spent the last 4 hours reading an ebook/listening to mp3s waste the standby time of my phone?

If you have these things in separate devices, then you are carrying three screens, three input mechanisms and three batteries. If you are concerned about battery life, then bring a couple of extra batteries along and you are still ahead.

Re:I see (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532314)

You'd have to ask the makers. It could be for any number of reasons unrelated to convergence. If you wish to claim that convergence was the cause, please say so and offer evidence beyond idle speculation.

Convergence results in color screen which also needs backlit in many cases, more powerfull cpu, more memory. Yes, all those things use more energy then needed even when not using any of the features resulting from convergence.

If you have these things in separate devices, then you are carrying three screens,

2 extremely low power black and white ones that don't need backlit when there is some light, and one that does color and requires backlit, but also is substantially bigger and more usable then anything in a phone formfactor.

three input mechanisms

Optimized for their specific purpose, making them quite a bit more comfortable to use.

and three batteries. If you are concerned about battery life, then bring a couple of extra batteries along and you are still ahead.

Yep, that would work as well.

Re:I see (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531852)

A great gadget is the Sony Ericsson line of walkman phones (I have in particular the W800i, there are newer models). It's a great phone in and of itself, and as an MP3 player, well, I realized that I wasn't using my recently purchased Nano at all since I got it, so I sold that one and got a 4 gig MemoryStick for the phone, and I'm set. Another bonus advantage: the two megapixel camera is pretty good for quick snaps of random things (and a great replacement for a photocopier at libraries), and it's LED flash light can be turned on as a handy torch to see in dark places (ie, inside computer cases).

Re:I see (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531957)

I call bullshit - you sold your nano because you wanted to use your phone? What, was the Nanao to heavy for you to carry around? Who are you kidding. It is a pain in the ass to use a phone as an mp3 player (note, i didn't say it was impossible, just not easy), and an ipod is almost the perfect mpy player are far as usability goes.

Re:I see (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532066)

You fail to realize that the Walkman Sony Ericsson phones are designed as an MP3 player and a phone, so they have pretty good usability as an MP3 player, and come with MemorySticks (mine came with 512), damned good headphones (that are better than the ones that come with iPods), drag&drop software (it seems to work with Media Player 11 by default though) and buttons dedicated to the MP3 player. How is it bullshit? I realized that I wasn't carrying around my Nano because my phone was doing it's functionality. It wasn't too heavy, it was just pointless. The only way I was limited was by the memory (only 512), so I sold my Nano and used that money to get the 4 gig MemoryStick to compensate).

Re:I see (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531763)

Because I've yet to see a phone/whatever combo that was as good as seperate phone and whatevers.

Re:I see (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532209)

To take this a step further... why can't the phone just be a phone sans the screen, key pad, speakers and then be interoperable with a screen, a key pad, speakers. Which in turn interoperate with an mp3 player. Both the phone and the mp3 player interoperate with a hard drive. Where all six items (screen, keypad, speakers, hd, phone, mp3 player) are all connected in a "personal network." You could add something for playing games, or a camera (or just about anything). Wasn't this the original promise of blue tooth?

Re:I see (1)

TheViewFromTheGround (607422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531765)

Forgive my neo-Ludditism, but why does a cell phone have to be more than a phone?

Okay, we should agree that the design-speak in saying "[T]he handset is designed to sit as a picture frame wherever the user is, serving the dual purpose of communications device and a comforting familiar focal point; at home, at work or in a hotel while away on business" is quite thick. But some part of the concept here is that the cell phone can be in some way "less" than a phone in that you can integrate it comfortably into a human environment. IMHO, too many gadgets advertise themselves too much (the extreme being gamer PC cases). In fact, really effective casemods make the PC look like something else -- less like a self-advertising gadget and more like something that fits the aesthetics of the space better. It seems like this design has this goal, and to that end, I think it's pretty admirable.

On the other hand, even as an admirable goal, the phone looks like your standard bland cell phone. As often happens with academic exercises, theory trumps praxis in this case.

Re:I see (1)

traveller604 (961720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531893)

Why does a computer have to be more than a device to read e-mail with?

Re:I see (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532218)

Why does a computer have to be more than a device to read e-mail with?

It doesn't have to, and many computers are used in a single purpose way.

I assume you are talking about the typical pc however, which is a general purpose computer. This indeed implies it does multiple things (tho few if any of them really well).

I am willing to buy the 'a mobile phone is a general purpose mobile communications device' idea, its just that either the phone has to be too big or the screen ends up too small for using it comfortably beyond very basic non voice communications, so in practise I don't see how a phone alone is gonna do this well. Adding things like an mp3 player seems pointless to me, its just an amazingly good way to reduce standby time.

phones are only being held back by the carriers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15532236)

Phones are being held back by the carriers from being the amazing convergence devices everybody wants. Carriers are so determined to make money via recurring monthly charges, that they're totally ignoring the traditional business model of selling people things they want. They could wipe out the PDA, music player, and GPS markets in an instant if they were weren't so short-sighted.

I have a Sprint phone, the Samsung A900 Blade (aka the RAZR knockoff for Sprint). After you hack it, the sheer breadth of its capabilities are astounding. If you go to the right places on the web, you can download software onto it so you don't have to pay recurring monthly charges for software loaded on your phone. The beauty of the software is that you have both data and GPS capabilities integrated into one tiny device, enabling features that sound totally next generation when in fact they should be common place by now.

With this software I can:
*GPS with directions and full graphic maps on a small, but high resolution (QVGA display). On all other modern Sprint phones, the GPS provides real-time tracking, but Sprint/Samsung half-assed the firmware on this one and there is something wrong with it.
*I can center on my current location, and bring up yellowpages of businesses nearby by name or category
*I can get weather information that automatically syncs with where I am
*I can lookup the web when I'm in a pinch on Opera Mini which scales the resolution with interpolation to somewhere in the neighborhood of half-VGA I'm guessing.
*I can stream podcasts from the Internet
*I can access any of the music, videos, and pictures on my computer, and stream live TV through my TV tuner at home onto my phone
*Via the web I can access a dictionary, Vindigo, Consumer Reports and Zagat all through custom apps which make navigation easy (no typing for the most part)
*I can play Gameboy Color quality games for when I'm really bored on the subway

All of this in a phone with the same form factor as a RAZR. What people hate about conversion devices is their bulkiness and compromise. Apparently, if you're willing to give up easy input on your mobile device (and that describes 90% of the market I think) the possibility exists for creating a convergence device that harnesses synergies that no existing product captures (for example, the app I can launch that automatically displays stores near me sorted by categories and can automatically dial my phone).

This device has several glaring faults however, that could easily be remedied if only the carriers were even trying to target this demographic:
*No syncing of calendar, todo lists, notes with my PC. The phone has Bluetooth and native copies of all of these apps, this is truely inexplicable other than blatant disregard for trying to attack the PDA market.
*Only 64 MB of RAM for storing MP3s. You could tape a nano to the back of this thing and it'd still be smaller than 90% of phones on the market. This literally totally storm the music player business, if you just sold phones with nano's taped to the back of them.
*Bad battery life. This is the only actual compromise I think they made on this phone. I have to charge it daily, especially if I stream lots of media or data that day.
*Crappy crappy crappy proprietary software and interface. This basically sums it all up. There are so many inexplicable oversights on this phone. It has a bright white LED on it, but there's no way to turn it on as a flashlight. It could have taken over the keychain light market, but there's another missed opportunity. This phone could take over the PDA, GPS, key chain light, mp3 player, and phone markets handily. The hardware on it is capable of being better than any of these individually (other than mp3 player, which it could be if they just added more memory chips and a scroll wheel). The carriers have simply chosen not to take over these markets, since if they can't charge a recurring monthly fee on value added services, they're simply not interested in making additional sales apparently.

Re:phones are only being held back by the carriers (1)

mliu (85608) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532332)

Mod up anonymous parent as informative, I have a friend who has the same phone and set his up similarly. It truly is amazing, I'd love to get one when my contract is up. Feels a bit like something out of science fiction how much better it is than everything else around.

I'd also mention that this phone has a 1 megapixel camera on it as well. It doesn't take the greatest pictures, but considering it adds apparently next to nothing to the bulk of the phone (it really is thin), it's one more bullet to add to things it can do.

New Yorker Cartoon (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531617)

I'm reminded of a cartoon that came up on my New Yorker daily desk calendar last week (the cartoon now has a permanent spot on my fridge):

Man talking to a clerk in a cell phone store: "Do you have one of those phones you can talk to people on?"

Re:New Yorker Cartoon (3, Funny)

ateves (981580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531634)

Answer: No, but if you get one of this series, you can download and downgrade the firmware which enables the talking mode again, but normally it`s obsolete.

I am fairly convinced that... (1)

Coelacanth (323321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531627)

...I don't really want to smell my caller's environment. At least not for most of my callers.

I applaud their creativity. But I still want a cell phone that works > 99% of the time as a freakin' phone.

Nothing else to do (3, Insightful)

Nicodemus101 (960204) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531642)

These are the same people that want to bring fashion to space suits right?

Fashion in Space [slashdot.org]

I mean a phone that picks up smells? What for? What could possibly be the use for that? I don't know about you but I would rather not have the person on the other end know I just let one go after too much chilli.

A phone that has beads to call people. Looking at my cellphone I have over a 100 contacts for business and personal. That's an awful lot of beads... might be the new 2015 style bling!

Actually... (1)

Adam Hazzlebank (970369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531656)

it's not as horrific as I thought I'd be! Granted most of them are technically infeasible at least for mass production, would be annoying to use or are just pointless, but I was expecting a lot worse.

Certainly some of them look less retarded than some of the things nokia come up with.

Strangely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15531659)

Strangely, none of the designs list telephone call capabilities as a feature. Instead of talking about clear and drop free calls, they talk about transmitting smells. Do you really want to smell the inside of a public mens room or would you rather be able to understand what the person at the other end is saying?

The phone is your friend? (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531665)

The aim was a user friendly product that gave an emotional relationship, like a friend

People shouldn't have emotional relationships with phones. A phone is just a tool, nothing more. There isn't enough love in the world to waste it on consumer electronics.

Re:The phone is your friend? (1)

mhollis (727905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531855)

Actually, the relationship one has with one's phone is much more subtile than that.

There have been a number of studies [aber.ac.uk] that seem to point to the way a telephone user will express one's self as if though the person they are talking with on the telephone was actually there. Phone conversations with intimate associates tend to contain body languages that express that relationship, while a telephone conversation with one's boss will result, generally, in postures that reflect that relationship.

Additionally there is the relationship with one's device in terms of how one is validated by one's buying choice. I have seen people show off their cell phone as if it were some kind of statement about themself.

What I think is most profound here is an incident that happened to me about a week ago.

My fiancee washed my Nokia 2260 cell phone, as I left it in my shirt pocket. She was horrified and I started thinking about how I was probably going to have to replace the phone. I removed its back and its battery and let it air dry for a day. Then I put it back together and turned it on. It worked just fine. I could almost hear the voice of John Cameron Swayze in the backgrond intoning: "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking..."

The newer cell phones most probably could not survive a washing in a laundry. And I'll bet the ones designed by these students -- if made -- wouldn't. But I'd have to say that I now have a sentimental feeling about my cell phone. It's a survivor.

By the way, I get married on 24 June, 2006. My fiancee likes my phone, too.

But will it get (1)

TooLazyToLogon (248807) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531691)

reception in my area. Just give me a mobile phone that works in my area. I have a camera I have a pda. I have internet devices (with screens big enough to be useful). I don't need a device that when it breaks everything else goes too.
 

Re:But will it get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15531949)

Ask your network provider, not your phone manufacturer

2015? (2, Interesting)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531693)

TFA suggests that these phone designs are concepts that may be workable by 2015.

2015? As in, nearly ten years from now? Nobody seriously expects phones to be recognisably unique devices by then, do they? It's nigh-on impossible to buy a mobile phone these days that does not incorporate, to a significant degree, functions for which there are already devices available.

It's widely accepted in the industry that within 10 years', when cameras, mp3 players and all sorts of other gadgets are sufficiently advanced and shrunk, everyone will be toting Multi-Function-Devices such that calling it a "phone" would be like calling a laptop an "electronic typewriter".

Now, those of us who are of a practical or ludditish bent will say that we prefer our devices to be discrete (as in separate) so that we don't have to upgrade everything at once and can stick with what we like. Personally, I'd like to see a move towards modular technology with standard interfaces - you buy your basic model, and detach/reattach parts as they become more advance and cheaper, so you swap out your 2M camera module for a 10M SLR, or a gaming processor unit, or whatever. However, it's not likely to happen as it means phone manufacturers have a smaller turnover, smaller businesses can get a better foothold, and service providers can't tie you into replacement schemes with the contract.

Still, a guy can dream.

Re:2015? (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531751)

2015? [bttf.com] We'll all be too busy with our flying cars, fusion generators, dehydrated pizza, levitating skateboards, and holographic sharks to worry about what our phones do.

Re:2015? (1)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532050)

Wa.wa.wa.welcome to cafe 80's!

(seriously man you stole my joke!)

Re:2015? (1)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532065)

Isn't that what they said back in the 60's about 2001?

Re:2015? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532104)

2015? As in, nearly ten years from now? Nobody seriously expects phones to be recognisably unique devices by then, do they? It's nigh-on impossible to buy a mobile phone these days that does not incorporate, to a significant degree, functions for which there are already devices available.

To be fair... Semi-Strong Ai will be theoretically possible on $2,000 peice of hardware by then if Moore's law holds true.

And I use the term theoretically in a very vague kind of way... Personally I'd hope that my cell phone would be my wallet and could fit in my back pocket and not hurt to sit on. Or maybe it would just be an earpeice.

I wish... (3, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531698)

I wish the future of cell phones was more like the past, just smaller. You know, a phone that's just a phone but fits in my pocket comfortably. Why do they make me feel like I'm asking for too much?

Re:I wish... (1)

Massif (875445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531838)

I'm the same way. I used to have a phone that made a big bulge in my pocket. It was not very nice. I just got a Motorola RAZR which is nice and thin but lacking in battery life.

As for camera/MP3 player/PDA phones, I might have a use for those features if the battery issue could be solved, but right now I'd rather use the actual devices.

Re:I wish... (1)

mlk (18543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532025)

Am I not asking for enough out of my battery life? As if I use my HTC Wizard as just a phone I get about two days from it (one more than I really need).
If I use it as an MP3 player/Camera I get one day.

What is wrong with that?

What is your idea of a good battery life?

Re:I wish... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532343)

What is your idea of a good battery life?
A week. Seriously.

Re:I wish... (1)

MasterC (70492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532041)

I wish the future of cell phones was more like the past, just smaller. You know, a phone that's just a phone but fits in my pocket comfortably. Why do they make me feel like I'm asking for too much?


What about exploiting short-range wireless tech like blue tooth? Each device has its own storage. If you connect it to a storage unit then your phone can store your address book on it. Connect a camera to the storage device & your phone and you can store it on there or ship it to your phone to send to someone. Perhaps connect your iPod into the scheme and store music on your storage device, have it auto-pause on incoming call, and all heard over your wireless headphones/headset?

Why not? Because Nokia/Samsung/Motorola/etc., Maxtor/Western Digital/etc., Apple/Creative/etc. want to dominate as much as possible and do not make interworking products. Kind of like why you can't yank the engine out of a Ford Escort and drop it into a Honda Accord. They all gotta make it different because "We're Right (TM)".

Phones are finally getting wireless headsets. Maybe iPods will start working with the same headsets. Then we might see an auto-pause feature. I suppose there's hope...

Imagine a world where you have Craftsman screw heads, Snap-On screw heads, and Black & Decker screw heads. No more of this "slotted" or "phillips" screw head stuff. You gotta buy the screw driver from each brand so that you can use each screw head and non interoperate. The repeat for different purposed heads: torx, square, etc. *shudders*

Newest design, newest functions... (1)

Exquisitor (823381) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531703)

and, that's great: you can even do phonecalls with that thing!

personally... (2, Interesting)

Churla (936633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531729)

Things I would want from a mobile device:

1) Phone
2) PDA
3) MP3 player
4) Camera

Things I DON'T want in a mobile device:

1) Smells
2) Life philosophy
3) Being locked into one service provider

It's funny how how 5 years ago my want list would have made me a cuttng edge geek, and now it makes me a luddite.

Re:personally... (1)

lhorn (528432) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531884)

Add cheap WiFi & a web browser with ZOom, and it will PERHAPS pry my Palm Vx from my pocket...

Re:personally... (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531921)

My take on this:
Phone
Phone book/contact list/whatever you call it (place to store numbers)
Speed dial
Alarm
Calendar/memo list
Calculator applet
Basic text messaging
Good battery life
Screen on outside to display time/caller ID
Flip phone (don't like bricks)

Nice-to-have options:
Free/cheap data cable/software
Headset jack
Customizable buttons
Ability to upload .wav ringtones via said cable (or just put Ramblin Wreck on there)

I don't need:
Games
Camera
MP3
AIM
Voice memos
Internet browsing
Special provider content app
No good default ringer (please, just have a standard phone ring!)

Re:personally... (1)

deval (982441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532205)

My requirements are simpler

1) Buttons big enough to press individually
2) Doesn't crash more then once a month
3) Doesn't dial the emergency services all the time
4) Waterproof and droppable

SMS GPRS are all very well but really a phone is for phone calls afaic

Beads? (1)

deviantphil (543645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531732)

If you're so inclined (I'm not)...you could use the beads for.......all sorts of alternative uses?

Re:Beads? (1)

rehashed (948690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532021)

Just dont think about leaving them around while on holiday in Thailand.
You may wake up to a sore rear-end, an enormous phone-bill, and some very confused contacts...

These are from design student's (3, Insightful)

planetmn (724378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531734)

Why is everybody so negative about the designs. Guess what, designers create based on form. Engineers create based on function. An end product is a meld of the two. If the designers only designed a cell phone that was the same shape and form as an old rotary phone, the engineers would design the electronics to go inside, and we'd all have phones bigger than the old bag phones of the 80s.

It is a designers job to create something that appeals to the market in terms of form. It is the engineers job to create something that works. And together with many others they create a product that has parts of both worlds.

Also, for everybody talking about "well, I just want a phone that gets good reception" that's a network design problem for the most part, not a device problem.

-dave

Re:These are from design student's (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531861)

Why is everybody so negative about the designs?
...
It is a designers job to create something that appeals to the market in terms of form.

I think you answered your own question. Obviously these designers have failed to create something that appeals to this market in terms of form.

Re:These are from design student's (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531981)

This market being a bunch of grumpy old geeks who would rather be at home playing wow?

These designs are a competition for a Nokia Internship. You have to design something different, something that stands out. You aren't going to win by handing in a Nokia 3110. YOu creat something which makes people think about the future, and maybe fulfils one task well.

Re:These are from design student's (4, Insightful)

Jott42 (702470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531978)

An industrial designer makes forms that follows function and is within the possibilities of engineering. The design you are talking about is the same as art and SciFi-movie prop design. The things presented in the article are scifi-designs, which have very little base in reality... (i.e no account is taken for batteries or antennas.) And a phone with a larger antenna will have better reception, it follows from Maxwells equations. But the current market does rather accept so-so reception than an antenna. But you are right in part: The lower antenna performance can to some degree be compensated with a better network.

Re:These are from design student's (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532040)

THANK YOU!

I think there are too many engineers, not enough designers here on /. to get this point. The curriculum for Industrial Design students is based in Fine Arts. They know next to nothing about how or why things work. They make pretty drawings and clay models. They might do some market research to figure out what people want or how people use/misuse similar devices today. But that's about it. Once they're done their job figuring out how it looks and what it should do they pass it off to an engineer and say "now make it work". At this point you'll have a back and forth between the two to find a happy medium between a device that fits the forum the designer wants with the functions the engineer is able to deliver.
The interaction between the designer and the engineer is KEY as is the human factor research done by the designer to making a worthwhile product. If the engineer doesn't listen to the designer enough you'll usually end up with something ugly, bulky and difficult to use because of under-designed interfaces, it will work but it probably wont be much fun to deal with. If the designer doesn't listen to the consumers enough you'll end up with something that does lots of unnecessary tasks or be difficult to use because of over-designed interfaces.

Designers live in a very artistic and creative place. A lot of times they'll throw the laws right out the window and shoot for uniqueness. Engineers are very utilitarian, you give them specs and and they build things exactly how you ask for them (so be careful how you spec it).

Just look at the automotive market, concept cars (designers designs before they spend much time with the engineers) rarely look like there final production versions, and most don't even make it to market. The Pontiac Aztec is a perfect example of a vehicle that spent too much time with the engineers and not enough time with the designers input. It's functionally fantastic but so butt ugly that no one wants it.

Re:These are from design student's (1)

Jott42 (702470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532131)

But concept cars still work. They have four wheels and an engine. They are possible to drive. They are prime examples of industrial design. The examples in the article where just "artistic design", which can not ever work, at least not if implemented using the air interfaces that we usually attribute to the concept of "cell phones". They are more like what you get when artist try to make houses: they have a tendency to forget about some boring stuff like rain and wind...

Re:These are from design student's (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532247)

I have nothing against pretty designs, and one reason I like some Apple hardware etc, but I think it's important that you can use the stuff, and many of the pictures linked to here didn't seem to tell me you could. Creating visually appealing stuff only gets a good designer halfway, like creating something that works only gets an engineer halfway. Creating something you can use though, and something that works well and reliably, now that are different matters.

Re:These are from design student's (1)

planetmn (724378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532309)

Yes, and if the students had the time and money that is spent in the product design cycle to interact with engineers, get feedback from marketing, etc. I'm sure you'd see the design change. What this example was, was the first iteration of the artists design.

Do you honestly think the first design iteration of the iPod (or MacBook Pro, etc.) was exactly like it is now? Absolutely not.

-dave

Caught in the old Paradigm (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531748)

Phones need to be smaller, like the size of an earring or something that you have constantly available, and which is speech activated. Think the "call bob" features they have in some phones now. Camera features, displays, etc., belong more naturally in smart spectacles. More involved interaction like text input is a tougher cat to skin, but then hey IANAID (I Am Not An Industrial Designer).

Re: They missed the obvious design (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532341)

I was pretty sad to see these too. Hooray for More Rectangles to Fall Out Of Pockets. Let me at a Cell Watch. I'm already collecting other ones.

  I read a post dated a couple years ago that it's possible/exists in Asia because of better network technology, but "not yet possible in Western countries because we haven't yet figured out how to shrink it".

Anyone else notice that you get one phone, which you have to take everywhere, and if you lose it, you're torched? Put it on a watch, where you'll have to crash into a building to get rid of it.

I Want a Bluetooth Speakerphone Badge (ST:TNG) (3, Interesting)

rdmiller3 (29465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531749)

My present mobile flips open, lets me talk speakerphone style holding it out in front of me, and I can contact whomever I want by saying their name or saying the phone number... very much like the communicators in the original Star Trek series. (I wish I could reprogram it to chirp like a 'communicator' instead of its "Say a command.")

We've seen those Bluetooth earphone-mic sets. What about a Bluetooth speakerphone badge? The main phone would be somewhere else on your person, but the little badge could be worn closer to your head and have a simple touch-to-activate/hangup interface like in the "Next Generation" Star Trek series.

Re:I Want a Bluetooth Speakerphone Badge (ST:TNG) (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532013)

What about a Bluetooth speakerphone badge?
 
Because most of us are trying to discourage this star trek stereotype, not reinforce it.

Everytime there is a story about Mobile phones, there are the people who want a simple phone but are incapable of asking for one a phone shop, and there are the ones who want a trek communicator. Bravo.

Star Trek Badgers (2, Insightful)

kieran (20691) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532136)

I suppose it's not good enough for the rest of the bus to be only be able to hear half the conversation.

Re:I Want a Bluetooth Speakerphone Badge (ST:TNG) (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532238)

What about a Bluetooth speakerphone badge?
Yes, you could shorten this to "Blue Speaker badge" and give them away on children's TV.

Good short term designs (1)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531753)

Nokia has a good record on trying out new designs (think of the iconic 7100 series and the 8850) and some of these are rather good designs. But ion the long term, five or ten years down the line the bulk of phones are unlikely to be handsets. If the latest 'phone on a chip' designs follow Moore's guidelines (no it's not a law) then we'll be able to integrate phones into watches, earpieces and there's even a design for an earring. Difficult to leave those in the back of a taxi.

Silly? (2, Interesting)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531760)

The beads are not silly; they are the marketer's dream! Imagine the recurring revenue the phone operators get from selling more of the beads for people who gave them all away. A phone company could also lock customers in, with using a proprietary format for these beads. It could also serve as a differentiator for companies. I wish I could come up with something like those beads, patent the idea and then develop it further for a large wireless company.

Re:Silly? (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532039)

A good idea for giving a phone to your kids. Only let them call the people you want them to call. ANd everynight you can inspect their necklace, to see if there are any neer'do'wells attached.

What I'd really like to see... (1)

zip_000 (951794) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531766)

What I'd really like to see is flexible phones - something soft, flat and jelly like that you could put in your back pocket and sit on without breaking. (and I concur with others - I just want my phone to call people, not anything else...that is unless it does everything else) Most of the designs here look a little silly to me, though I do like the odd bracelet one.

The Most Important Question (1)

Vulturo (867840) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531772)

Slashdot isn't what it used to be. Sigh

All this is fine, but do they run Linux?

Here we go again (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531799)

Most people will say they only want a phone to call. However there are plenty of people out there that want more then just to call.

Imagine you are a system administrator. Won't it be nice to be able to ssh into your server the moment you get a warning? That way you could perhaps solve the problem faster, from where you are, without the need to actually go to your portable. Unless you a such a geek that you don't have any moment you walk around without a portable (and network access)

Some people like to have the camera. Some people like to send messages. So what you will get is a combination and variety of systems where you can select what you want.

Not everybody has the same Linux distro, or the same services running on his system, so why should this be any different with your cellphone. Buy what you need. Do not buy what others tell you what you need.

I use SUSE and I don't run KDE or Gnome. If you don't like the camera on your phone and yet you do like all the rest, then don't take pictures. Do you really want just to phone? Then just buy the cheapest (second hand) phone you can find. They are still available and can be bought.

Just as with Linux, it is all a matter of choice. Because YOU don't want it does not mean it is a bad choice.

Re:Here we go again (2, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531975)

Won't it be nice to be able to ssh into your server the moment you get a warning?
Nokia 6800 - they made thousands on the expectation that people would want a qwerty keyboard to send text messages, so I got one dirt cheap and use it for ssh. Other manufacturers are also trying the same thing and may hit the same pitfall, so you may be able to get something newer that can do the same thing dirt cheap.

I thought the most useless feature on the thing was the radio until I took a bus to work a few times and used the radio each day. If only it could do ssh over IR (you can't get to IR with any publicly available programming methods on the thing) and it had a torch the thing would be ideal.

Re:Here we go again (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532335)

Imagine you are a system administrator. Won't it be nice to be able to ssh into your server the moment you get a warning? That way you could perhaps solve the problem faster, from where you are, without the need to actually go to your portable. Unless you a such a geek that you don't have any moment you walk around without a portable (and network access)

Hmm... yes, yes, I can see it now:

user@hostname$ 222 28*****827*****56*****633777 777724337777
cat: /var/log/mesrages: No such file or directory
user@hostname$ 3338822255099966688** ** **

My Nokia "collection"... (2, Insightful)

dissolved (887190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531819)

... and the odd SPV phone, have become increasingly bad at actually making a call.

My old Nokia 3330 was a lot faster to hang up a call and lock the keypad. I've waited 20 seconds with no apps running in the background on the 6680 for the thing to accept any input after ending a call.

There is Salling Clicker though which kinda makes up for it - one of the best phone advancements I've used in a while (no-one mention 3G please).

same old, same old (1)

myspys (204685) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531886)

it's always the same, cram as much crap as possible into every phone

i want a phone with:
* good sound quality
* sms capability
* alarm
* contacts
* list of incoming and outgoing calls
* a nice, clean and simple interface

and yeah, good battery time as well

and as a clip-on, or the deluxe-version, one could add/buy something that allows one to connect to the laptop to the net

is that so hard to do?
it SHOULD be cheap as f'ck to develop nowadays, just double the price and sell it to me and i'll thank you for a loooong time mr big company!

Re:same old, same old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15531923)

"Matrix" Nokia - All of the above.
Sendo M55 - All of the above
HTC Wizard - All of the above

Have you actually used a mobile phone, or do you just hate them?

Um, (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531887)

Referring to future phone as if it reminds you of those 'paper clackers' you made as a kid when most of your audience probably doesn't have a clue what a 'paper clacker' is: -1 irrelevant.

Idea of smelling your caller's environment: -1 obnoxious.

Figuring out the difference between 'the winning design' and 'the winner of the competition when they are two different designs: priceless.

It's not just /. that's gone in the handbasket.

rick

Re:Um, (1)

rehashed (948690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532126)

I have no idea what the parent is waffling on about. I feel so stupid - please mod me down :(

Re:Um, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15532198)

What is a paper clacker [google.com] anyway?

Design students on crack (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531951)

Bullshit, the phone of the future will look pretty much like the phone of today, the PDA all-screen look will become more popular as better and more tactile touchscreens are developed, there will be no other major design change.

I'll believe it when I see it (1)

rehashed (948690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15531966)

Nokia have been releasing these godawful concepts for at least the last 6 years - none of them have yet seen the light of day. Possibly the closest was a nasty blue clamshell that motorola released circa 2001 - they never repeated that mistake...

Oh come on (2, Insightful)

zerosix (962914) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532109)

People spend so much time trying to develop tech for phones they don't stop to see if they should do it and ask people what they want. Why the hell would anyone want to put a chess set on thier phone? I mean seriously! Any why do people have to keep cramming more and more crap into cell phones? When I upgraded my phone last time, they kept trying to cell(haha) me one with an MP3 player. Also, not one of those phones looked like something I would even want to use. Lets pack more and more shit into phones and up the already high price! One feature that I do like on phones is the web feature(actually a useful non-bloated feature.) Games, MP3 player, and the such is rediculace for a phone.

The important "Mouth to Ear" measurement (2, Interesting)

Solo-Malee (618168) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532128)

I once saw an interview with Prince Charles (about 5 years ago). He was congratulating two students on an award they received for a new design for a mobile phone. The conversation when like this...

Prince Charles [While admiring the half brick sized phone in his hands] "Ahhem, it's really amazing how small you can make these things"..."but what's to stop you maing them even smaller?"
Designer [While thinking what a dumb ass question that was]: "Well sir, the distance between your mouth and your ear"

With hindsight, who's the smart one now...technnology moves ever forward, apparently there is nothing to stop things getting ever smaller except maybe cramming more and more functionaility into it, at which point, when does it stop being just a phone?

"F"s for them all. (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532158)

And fire their teachers in the process. Not a one of those adds any functionality to the phone and most would a pain in the butt to use.

Always new "concepts"... (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 8 years ago | (#15532243)

Nokia just LOVES designing all kinds of concept phones.

Why don't they put their money where their fucking mouth is and release some ACTUAL good phones? Or at least bring some of their nice european phones to North America.

I'm a fan of Nokia, but what's been available here for the past few years has been absolutely shameful.
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