Your phone’s heart is beating. It feels aggrevated, unhappy. It responds to your touch with suspicion, cowering. You missed a call, and your phone thinks you might be a stranger.
Do we need our smartphones to be more like us? Emotional, opinionated, human. Or do we just want them to follow our orders without questions?
It’s questions like these that mobile telecommunications expert Fabian Hemmert asked his audience at the Webinale keynote „Staying human in the digital age.“
Hemmert says we need to take our technology back into the natural world, to make it feel less like artificial and machine-like and more like the real world we live in.
Also speaking at the Webinale 2014, Professor of Media Design Andrea Krajewski took a similar approach, stating that online presence needs to have strong characteristics. It’s not enough for an app to look nice, it needs to have its own personality.
Using examples from his renowned TED talk, Hemmert described a potential smartphone that shifts its weight to give a responsive feeling to things like maps.
By leaning left, right, forwards or back, the haptic compass could both help the user to be navigated without looking. But at the same time, this responsive weight gives a natural feeling of where the phone ‚wants‘ to go.
Watching our information diet
We often talk about information the way we talk about eating. Information can be „tough to swallow“ or „food for thought“.
So if information is like food, Hemmert asks, should we take care of our diet? It used to be harder to get information, but today, digital natives binge on fast food information on Facebook.
But unlike food, it’s harder to know when we have consumed enough or too much information.
Hemmert ends with an interesting experiment that improves just how emotionally attached we are to our smartphones.
„Everybody take out your phone. Enter the password. Now hand it to your neighbour.“
Most audience members are reluctant to follow the last step. „How does that feel?“ Hemmert asks. A wave of uneasy laughter ripples through the audience.
„It’s important to stay human.“ Indeed it is, especially when it comes to technology. And that means recognising how much we love our devices, and making them one of us.
Feature image: Futuristic robot holding glossy smartphone with artificial hand and touching it by finger isolated on white background. via Shutterstock / copyright: Willyam Bradberry