We are addicted to our phones not because we rely on them, but to the extent that we recruit them to a harmful project of self-avoidance. They do not mean to hurt us. But we may – and probably do – use them to injure ourselves. Addiction sounds horrible. But it is a hard name for a normal inclination: a habit of running away from the joys and terrors of self-knowledge.
How to Live More Wisely Around Our Phones


Luke Wroblewski on mobile design


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Luke Wroblewski


Words on screens are not substitutes for words on paper

The differences between page and screen go beyond the simple tactile pleasures of good paper stock. To the human mind, a sequence of pages bound together into a physical object is very different from a flat screen that displays only a single “page” of information at a time. The physical presence of the printed pages, and the ability to flip back and forth through them, turns out to be important to the mind’s ability to navigate written works, particularly lengthy and complicated ones. We quickly develop a mental map of the contents of a printed text, as if its argument or story were a voyage unfolding through space. If you’ve ever picked up a book that you read long ago and discovered that your hands were able to locate a particular passage quickly, you’ve experienced this phenomenon. When we hold a physical publication in our hands, we also hold its contents in our mind.

The spatial memories seem to translate into more immersive reading and stronger comprehension. A recent experiment conducted with young readers in Norway found that, with both expository and narrative works, people who read from a printed page understand a text better than those who read the same material on a screen. The findings are consistent with a series of other studies on the process of reading. “We know from empirical and theoretical research that having a good spatial mental representation of the physical layout of the text supports reading comprehension,” wrote the Norwegian researchers1. They suggested that the ability of print readers to “see as well as tactilely feel the spatial extension and physical dimensions” of an entire text likely played a role in their superior comprehension.

Paper Versus Pixel. The science of reading shows that print and digital experiences are complementary.


China now has 1.104 B mobile users

Statistics released December 23rd by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) say that as of the end of November 2012, there were 1.104 billion mobile phone users in that country, an increase of nearly 118 million people during the first eleven months of 2012 (tech crunch).

This would mean that about 82% of China’s population currently uses a mobile phone (though as commenters noted below, many of these mobile phones could have dual sim cards, which was not taken into account in the MIIT’s report). The number of 3G phone users reached 220 million, or about 20% of mobile phone users. Broadband Internet service users increased by 24.03 million in the first 11 months of the year, while the number of mobile Internet users increased by 111 million to 750 million. From January to November 2012, mobile communications revenue in China totaled 724.53 billion yuan (or about $116.26 billion US dollars), an increase of 11% over the same period last year.

Full report on techcrunch.


Not Science Fiction: The dream of the medical tricorder

mobile-ultasound-device

Along with teleportation, speech-driven computers and hand-held wireless communicators that flip open, the medical tricorder was one of many imaginary future technologies featured in “Star Trek”. Ever since, researchers have dreamed of developing a hand-held medical scanner that can take readings from a patient and then diagnose various conditions. Now, nearly five decades after “Star Trek” made its debut in 1966, the dream is finally edging closer to reality.

…[AliveCor] has developed an iPhone case with two electrodes that can perform an electrocardiogram (ECG). Dr Topol recently used a prototype to assess a fellow passenger on an aircraft who was suffering from chest pain. He concluded the passenger was having a heart attack, and the plane was diverted. Other firms are also developing medical add-ons for smartphones. MobiSante, based in Redmond, Washington, has devised a smartphone-based ultrasound system that was granted FDA clearance in early 2011. A hand-held ultrasonic probe plugs into a smartphone, which generates and displays an image. It costs $7,500, a fraction of the price of a conventional ultrasound.

Medical technology: The hand-held diagnostic devices seen on “Star Trek” are inspiring a host of medical add-ons for smartphones


Rise Alarm Clock


Rise is a "delightfully simple and unique" alarm clock, now available for your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Shows promise. I prefer UI’s like this to the more heavy handed skeumorpic style seen in most of Apple’s offerings.


‘Magic’ Phone Booth Lets Children Talk With Santa

Brazilian telecom company Oi sets up a phone line to the ‘North Pole’ for the holidays. PSFK reports.

In Rio de Janeiro, Oi set up a ‘magic’ pay phone that allows children to call and speak with Santa Claus. As the children were talking, retired actors on the other end of the line could see them on a video monitor, allowing for real-life conversations as opposed to an automated script.
The holiday magic didn’t stop there. While the children were talking with ‘Santa,’ small gifts would appear on the step behind them. It even began to ‘snow’ as the building opposite the pay phone was lit-up into a winter wonderland using projection mapping. For the icing on the cake, there were passing ‘elves’ and children’s choir that would emerge to sing holiday carols.

Read more.