Converging Technologies, Converging Requirements

I said before that I have a new Nokia N-80, courtesy of my friends at Nokia. I’m using it a lot for both its camera function and its web access. What prevents it from being a viable working multiple artifact: power.

Web access: I’m surprised at how much I use the N-80 for web access: for Gmail and for Google searching. I used to think I didn’t want my email in my pocket all the time, but I find it extremely convenient to have all-the-time email access. For example:

  • to check to see if a meeting is still on.
  • to send a quick note, instead of having to remember to do it when I’m back at a computer.
  • to use wait-time to deal with some quick email, or delete msgs I don’t have to deal with.

And I use the Google searching:

  • Was in SF yesterday and didn’t know the exact addresses of two stores I wanted to go to; found them online.
  • Was at a meeting with a friend who asked if I knew which person on the room was so-and-so; I searched Google images and the person was sitting 2 rows in front of us.
  • I was in a bookstore looking for a book for which I remembered the title but not the author.
  • In a meeting during an earthquake — a friend found the magnitude faster than I did (3.4) as we both searched our handhelds.

None of these are major, and most could be dealt with another way or don’t need to be dealt with at all. But what I like is that these noticeably reduce some of the small stresses of daily living. Finding the store or the book easily reduces the effort, the mental tension, and the time required. Needing to remember something for later is a small but noticeable burden — and not remembering can escalate to a problem. We didn’t NEED to know the magnitude of the quake, but for those of us who remember the ’89 quake, there’s always the possibility that what doesn’t feel like a major shake just mean that we are on the edge of a major quake.

Life is full of stresses, small and large — something that eliminates some of the small ones contributes to the quality of life.

Camera: The N-80 camera has most of the features of a medium-price digital camera. It can be fully automatic, but the photographer can also control the exposure, color saturation, and contrast. It has flash with red-eye reduction, and a significant zoom. And, until Zonetags is ready for this generation of phones, I can upload to Flickr using Lifeblog. The result is that I’m more inclined to grab my N-80 when I see something photogenic (and not just my cats).

I was in a store looking at desk combinations for my study at home. I wanted to remember what the alternatives looked like and, of course, measure the pieces — so I took pictures of the pieces with my measuring tape, instead of writing down all the measurements.

Power: The problem, of course, is that all these functions use power, and I’m exhausting the N-80 much faster than I did my previous cameraphone. I’m working at exhausting and recharging the battery several times, as is recommended to max the life of batteries (and which no one I know but me actually does). I have chargers at home, office, and car, so most of the time power is not a concern — but I’m not inclined to, for example, take the N-80 as my only camera to some places where I might otherwise, for fear of running out of power. I most need its networking function where I don’t have a computer, where not likely to have a power supply.

It’s likely that I’ll find more new uses of the N-80 and make it increasingly a part of my life — as long as I’m not limited by a concern for running out of power. Nokia and the service providers would of course like for us to integrate these devices as fully as possible in daily life — but we won’t be able to as long as power is a concern.

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