I made a bit of a detour for my second session of the day, breaking from my pre-made schedule to see “Pocket Intelligence,” a panel about mobile interaction and feedback networks. I made the detour because the panel promised to talk about how our mobile phones will react to the world around us in the near future (oh, and because I ran into my friend Christian McDonald in the Hilton hallway, and he was going to this panel. Sometimes the best panels at SXSW are found this less-planned way).
On the panel were Fritz Desir, the director of experience strategy and architecture for Tribal DDB, Myrian Joire, the senior mobile editor for Engadget, Nick Holroyd, the lead UX designer for Junk My Car/Peddle.com, Reno Marioni, the director of platform production management location and commerce at Nokia and Richard Guest, the president of Tribal DDB.
Desir told the crowd in the packed room that he was “totally committed to making sure this panel does not suck.” What a relief.
Holroyd talked about contextual mobile interactions, like your phone knowing you’re in a bar networking, so it shares business card-like information with people around you.
Marioni said Nokia has 1 billion phones. He said the tech is changing so quickly, so the challenge is making these advances in a “smart way.”
Location and checking in will become more useful soon, Marioni said. It will help us get around the city and live our lives. “You don’t want it to be really annoying,” Marioni said. “You have to be really smart about this.”
Desir said to the layperson, this kind of thing comes across as creepy, so he asked the panel how do you win over the public with super-smart smartphones?
“Most of our audience is quite tech savvy,” Engadget’s Joire said. “But there is a lot of resistance to making phones smarter.” Joire said Foursquare, for example, would be easier and more useful if it automatically checked people in, but it “freaks people out.”
Once people adapt to this and find use in it, the developers will step in, Joire said, and the “friction” people have over smarter location-based networks will go away.
“The users will decide what’s creep or not and what will be adopted, Holroyd said. “We need to let the users decide and open up the technology.”
This is all about trust, Marioni said. The social network Path had a problem recently with phone address book information being uploaded without permission. “You have to be careful with information,” he said.
Marioni said worried users can turn off location services on their phones, and they can turn off wifi if they’re really paranoid, but they lose an opportunity to have phones that can be more useful.
Joire said Facebook overcomes privacy concerns by being so integral in people’s lives. “There’s a tipping point” where people stop worrying as much about privacy concerns.
Notes from me: This panel sounded interesting, but it didn’t do much for me. I would have liked it more if they talked more about what’s coming up. It didn’t help that it was hard to hear the panelists due to the audio system. Oh well, you can’t win them all.