Adapting Technology To The Situation

The other day on Twitter, I got into a serious rant. I wasn’t happy with the fact that I had to tap something 5 times on my iPad in order for me to connect my Bluetooth keyboard to the device. Seriously. Let me describe the steps:

  1. Tap this home button twice in order to bring up the applications list, but not leave the current app
  2. Tap the Settings app (sometimes, I need to slide to the pane where that app is
  3. Click on Bluetooth under the General Settings tab
  4. Click on the button to turn Bluetooth on
  5. Double tap on the home button in order to go back to the application I was in

At that point, I need to tap on the screen to the area that I want type onto in order to start using my wireless keyboard.

Hence my rant on Twitter. If Apple is such a innovator and king od user experriences (UX), then why am I needing so many step to connect their own accessories to be able to use them. In addition, I don’t have Bluetooth on all of the time because it is such a drain on the battery when it is conneted to the keyboard. Sad ain’t it? Shouldn’t and couldn’t this be done easier?

Well, it is. And some of the applications of a newer wireless technoogy calleed Near-Field Communications (NFC) point the way there. In some respect, I don’t mind the additon (I just kind of wish that Bluetooth done some of these spatial interactions a few version numbers ago). I do mind though that it still takes too long for such intelligence to be buillt into the normal behavior for the products we use that have these technnologies.

Now, Nokia’s recent demonstrations of NFC have shown something a good bit better here. For example, with their latest mobile devices and some of the accessories, you simply need to tap the devices together and then they would connect. The NFC is always on, and requires less power than Bluetooth. So the devices with NFC can have that part on all the time, and then when they are connecte, the Bluetooth takes over the connection. Unfortunately, it does not seem that Bluetooth for the devices turn off wwhen you tap the devices together to disconnect them (according to this tweet).

And so, this makes more sense. And actually presents the technology in a spatial context towards how we can use it better. And even still – as I’m typing this on my iPad now in a hint of jealously (ahem, where’s my N9, speakers, Essence headset, keyboard, bicycle, and car radio all using NFC???) – I think that our interactions can and should go even further. We should be seeing more instances where technologies around us adapt to us, and then present a better quality of life. I’ve talked about this before in my inital thoughts about Nokia Bots, but then also saw a glimpse of things in an article at ReadWriteWeb today:

During Nokia World in London I met a developer that wanted to explore NFC because his father has Alzheimer’s and he wanted to figure out how the technology could help him give his father a way to manage his day-to-day life. For instance, setting timers on items around the house to keep his father from doing odd things at odd moments, like opening cabinets in the kitchen at 4:00 a.m. or leaving the house at the same time and wandering the neighborhood, not knowing where he is going. If his father has a watch with NFC in it, he could program those household functions to only respond to the NFC timer at certain times of the day.

This was all in the theoretical stage as the developer was just starting his initial research but those types of capabilities are not beyond the realm of NFC.

Or, you can take a peek at this idea that I posted at the Ideas Project website of a different kind of interacting with your mobile phone that takes into account how fast we think about taking a picture versus getting it on that screen. In both cases, its this matter of looking at technology thru a lens of it adapting to the sitation we are in, not necessarly us changing our behavior to do something that the tech should be doing more efficiently.

If you will, when do we get to this point (if we are developers and instigtors of this tech) that the technology starts to adapt to us out of the box, rather than we change/add to our behaviors in order to have it work best? Don’t get me wrong, I understand completely the methodologies behind consumerism and how that drives these kinds of decisions. I also think though that we need to hold tech up to higher standards than simply “buy a new one when what I have isn’t supported any more.” I had hoped that we were beyond that towards something more – especially when it came to mobile. But, given these steps that I’ve got to take to just connect a keyboard to a tablet that’s supposed to be the most advanced demonstration of tech today, I can’t say that we are adapting the tech to the situation, but us to the tech.