Orthotics and inclusive design
Through one of those roundabout coincidences which plague the population of Brighton, Devi@FP bumped into Sally Underwood at a party recently, and invited her in last week for a chat about a project Sally's working on in the area of inclusive design (and specifically orthotics).
"Inclusive design is a process whereby designers and manufacturers ensure that their products and services address the needs of the widest possible audience", according to the Include 2005 web site; which seems to be exactly what Douglas Rushkoff is referring to in this piece: "Paying attention to one group's disabilities enhances usability for everyone else."
For example, mobile phone keypads are typically composed of tiny keys which require very specific motor movements: fiddly enough for the over-30s, never mind the elderly! And yet I'd bet the vast majority of calls made are between people who already know each other - via the address book. So given that most of our telephone interactions involve selecting an action (e.g. "make call", "take photo") or choosing from a list (e.g. selecting a recipient for a call), why the continued prominence of the keypad, which we also shoehorn into a means for doing text input via T9 or similar?
When are we going to see the equivalent of an iPod scroll wheel on mobiles: a childishly simple, bloody-obvious-in-retrospect, means of navigating through a mobile interface?
And why is voice messaging not a more prominent service than it is today, when it can meet some of the use cases that SMS satisfies so well (i.e. asynchronous, fast, communication) for people who may be unable or unwilling to tap out short messages on a tiny keypad?