This is part seven of an eight-part design for communication series. This series is adapted from a master’s paper on the intersection of design and technology-mediated communication.

Designing for Mobile TMC

“The mobile device, more than any other recent invention, is dramatically changing the ways in which we interact with each other and with our cities.” (Barret, 2014, pg. 1) We can now carry the power of our computers in our pocket everywhere we go. We’re available to anyone, anytime 24/7. The rise of mobile devices has been rapid, the number of smartphone users is expected to hit 2.53 billion this year and 2.87 billion by 2020. (Statista, 2016) Mobile devices are part of the reason that social networks have grown to the point they’re at now, and why new ones keep popping up.

“Mobile communication technologies offer the possibility of connecting with other anywhere and anytime.” (Ugur, 2013, p. 50) Moving forward, designers need to be increasingly aware of the impact and growth of smartphones, and mobile communication. People are mobile, and as we are mobile we experience more connected devices and spaces. “The mobile phone is the ideal platform for these rich, contextual experiences.” (Barret, 2014, pg. 1) This will change how we communicate and share information with one another. “The mobile device must be able to sense where a user is and facilitate actions situated in an immediate, living moment of experience defined by real places and times, by real states of being.” (Barret, 2014, pg. 17) Designers must be aware of this factor of mobility and account for this in their designs by taking “advantage of the necessary and sufficient elements of that physically situated experience: location, time, visual, and auditory characteristics.” (Barret, 2014, pg. 18) For example, “a workout application that offered a range of instructional and archival tools for individual workouts but was also a tool for sharing your workout stats with coaches or team members or friends in another city as a way of finding new workouts from trusted sources while at the gym.” (Barret, 2014, pg. 19) This version of the application takes advantage of the increased mobility by allowing users to share information about workouts and communicate with likeminded people right from the gym. Mobile designs should account for “everything going on around the device and how particular on-screen interactions fit into larger social or place-based interactions.” (Barret, 2014, pg. 21)

Emerging Technology: AR/VR, Wearables, Internet of Things, Voice Interfaces

Adding to the mobile movement, new technologies are emerging from augmented reality and virtual reality to wearables and the internet of things. Even more we will be able to replicate the non-verbal cues and richness of face-to-face communication through TMC. (Ugur, 2013) Augmented reality and virtual reality can place us face-to-face and in the same space with others around the world. Wearables will allow us to feel closer to our loved ones as we can monitor and share information right from our body. (Ugur, 2013) While most of these technologies are in their infancy, designers should be aware of upcoming trends by researching the technology and talking to potential users about their expectations for the technologies in their day-to-day communications.

“New communication technologies can open new avenues to express emotions and change the traditional social norms and habits.” “Wearable technology can be used in mediated communication in order to detect, express and regulate emotions.” (Ugur, 2013, p. 51) Designers can take advantage of these abilities of new technologies through KUIs (Kinetic User Interfaces) capturing user’s motions and behavior to create engaging interactions. (Ugur, 2013, p. 51) In addition, designers can take advantage of colors and shapes to convey emotions and elicit emotional responses. Through new technology, KUIs, and KOIs (Kinetic Organic Interfaces) the body can become a dynamic display that designers can capitalize on through pre-designed movements and behaviors to facilitate human communication and the sharing of information. (Ugur, 2013, p. 51)

Stay tuned for part the eighth and final part! Did you miss a part? Check out the full series here: Design for Communication.
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