One of the assignments this week was to choose and explore one of the interactive technologies that surround us. After giving some thought and trying to “invent the wheel”, I’ve landed onto something that is in our hands most of the time: mobile phone.

From being meant to be just a single-function device it got developed into the multifunctional technology without which we cannot imagine our everyday lives.

Here’s the funny video on what the tech-savvy kids generation think about old school phones:

Today, with the phone we can literally do everything: call, text, read news, study for class, play games, listen to music / podcasts, check for directions, make pictures (it could be another long discussion to only talk about how making pictures with the phone changed/influenced the photography in general), be present in social media, you name it.

I was trying to observe people on the way to NYU the other day. Every third (I’m not lying) person on the subway was holding the phone in their hands.

For deeper observation I decided to look into not only human&phone interaction but also how this interaction changes human2human relationship.

I’m new to NYC, I spend a lot of time on the streets and I use Google Maps on the phone all the time for directions.

What do we have if we put together NYC streets, phones and humans? Slow walkers! Since I’ve already experienced how annoying it is to be trapped in the middle of the street because of the characters mentioned above, I’ve decided to look into how holding the phone in your hands can change your walking pace.

What I did was track two speeds: one of a normal walking person — I’m a fast walker, so I tracked myself, and another one of a person holding phone in his hands and walking really really slowly.

I walked from Tisch towards Houston street and back trying to keep the same time of 3:36min for both fast and phone-slow pace.

What I got is this: walking the normal pace on the street I made 0.41km, which means that I would make 1km in 8:53min:


Whereas walking slowly (here I actually followed someone walking really really slowly)  in the same amount of time I made 0.27km and potentially 1km in 13:30min.


Person with the phone was walking 1.5 times slower than me walking without it. If that person was like me, it meant that he also completely shut off the the world around him (not listening what’s happening, loosing sense of direction (ok, I don’t really lose sense of it) and of course, disturbing others.

If we go back to the book “Design meets disability”, it has the extract from Jon Ivy’s interview for NYT: “It was about being very focused and trying to do too much with the device – which would have been its complication and, therefore, its demise… The key was getting rid of stuff.” and this quote, too: “in the increasingly complex world, we value simplicity in many forms: functional, visual, and interactive”.

So is phones’ interactivity so well designed and simple that it becomes this completely integral part of us?


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