Smartphone

Substitutephone: the useful smartphone that does nothing

Internet is a wide and complex universe, hard to describe in a simple way or in a few lines.   In this article we will try to explain it better by using a paradox.

Mr. Klemens Schillinger had a brilliant idea: he invented the smartphone that does nothing.

The “Substitutephone” has the same size and shape of a smartphone, but it does not have a display or provide any kind of service. It is only an empty box.
It is a replacement, useful for those who suffer from Internet addiction.
The cyberuser who can’t get along without the smartphone, can manage the uncontrollable urge of going online by using a substitute, or better, holding a “Substitutephone”.
It’s about a familiar object, analogous to the original one, enriched by tactile elements such as spheres which permit to replicate some movements when touching the screen.
We don’t know if the “Substitutephone” will be on the market or if it will rest only a challenge. What we are certain of is that this is much more than a design exercise. It is the antithesis which demonstrates the thesis; a paradox, an oxymoron which highlights how Internet is changing our lives, our daily routine.
This smartphone, the tool that allows us to communicate almost with everybody and have access to all the contents online, is replaced by a tool practically alike, except one detail: instead of letting us doing everything (or almost) it enables us to do anything.
This nothing which opens another paradox! This useless tool gives us back our space and our time in the real world. This nothing allows us once again to do everything.

It is the apotheosis of the contraiction.
It is the opposite gaining a foothold in order to contrast a strong dependence.
We are talking about nomophobia.

It is “FOMO”, the fear of missing out.
It is a phenomenon that involves millions of people.

substitute phone

Internet, available to all, offers innumerable opportunities, but at the same time distracts us from the real world of which it is the antagonist, the alternative.

There is a further paradox to underline: be unable to disconnect us from Internet, makes the virtual world indispensable, equal with the real world. We are compulsorily present in two adjacent and parallel universes.

The quickness and the instantaneousness which characterizes Internet brings us, more and more frequent, to be online; always up to date.
Which one is the most recent post or tweet or trend or selfie?

What does the future hold for us? We’ll be always online connected? Most likely…

What do we suggest? Use Internet without prejudices but sometimes turn your smartphone off, do it often and start looking around.
And if you can’t do it then get yourself a useful “Substitutephone”.

WorldTwoDotZero

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There’s no place like smartphone

Let’s talk about smartphone, innovation, society and, of course, Internet.

To do this, we use the recent study published by Deloitte entitled “Mobile consumer survey 2016 UK”, research available online, which we recommend you, characterized by statistics with nice infographic and easy to interpret.

The subtitle, highfalutin, has captured our attention and encouraged the drafting of this article. “There’s no place like phone” represents a funny way to misquote the ancient motto “There’s no place like home”.

There is more behind this pun, because in a few years the smartphone has become, in UK as in Italy, a reference in the lives of many of us. It is an indispensable object, personal, always on hand, therefore appropriate to compare it to our home, a private place, intimate, where we feel so at ease.

Nine years after the first diffusion of this new generation of mobile devices, Deloitte, through this study, draws up an interesting analysis.

This analysis has shown the great impact on the social, personal and working environment caused by “smart” devices.

Let’s analyse the main points that synthesize the search.

The “Key findings”:

Almost half of 18-24 years olds check their phone in the middle of the night

The young Millennials, and even worse the young generation Y, are always connected. Even at nighttime!
The graph (figure 4) shows that the 50% of the Millennials (between 18 and 24) accesses their smartphone at least once during the night. The data for the other age groups is equally surprising:

  • a 30-year-old in two accesses Internet during the night (25-34 48%)
  • a 40-year-old in three (35-44 37%)
  • a 50-year-old in four (45-54 27%)
  • a 60-year-old in five (55-64 20%),

do the same.
The over 65 are not excluded with the 14% of the approached ones.

Deloitte_mobile_consumer_2016

Giving a quick look, we noticed the reverse trend between age and (nighttime) dependence; in any case a significant trend for the elderly age groups as well.
We are always connected. And we will be more and more, given the indices of the age groups.
Internet is in all these numbers; these compulsive, day and night tendencies.

It is useless to enumerate what benefits bring a proper sleep to our health and in general to our life. Are we developing a “FOMO” (Fear of Missing OUT) mass syndrome? More than likely!
The detail  proves it: 11% of the users wakes up in the middle of the night to check up the instant messages such as WhatsApp, 9% reads on Social Media, 8% reads their personal emails, 6% answers to the instant messages and so on…

We find restrictive saying that these people feel the necessity of “being often online”, they perceive the virtual world on a par with the real one. They are in both places. Even in the middle of the night! It is a continuum space and time between the “real world” and “web”.

27% of smartphones include a fingerprint reader, of which 76% are used

The smartphone is more and more a personal tool; the bond between tool and person is shown by the presence of interactive functionalities, which protect and reserves the access, like finger print recognition. Immediate service aimed to guarantee greater safety and fast usage. New functionalities, closer to our senses, by touch, faster, more “smart” and less “phone”, will become more and more established in the future. There can be no doubt!

Connected home devices still haven’t taken off, with just 2% of adults owning smart lights and smart appliances

The use of Internet by home electronic devices didn’t spread as what one thought.
Household appliances at remote control, video cameras controlled by an APP, smarthome technology, wireless devices and Bluetooth find interest in a small percentage of cyberusers.
The reason is extremely simple, the added value in terms of remote control and automation is, till now, very limited. If there is no clear advantage, the technology which sustains the innovation, struggles to succeed.

As of mid-2016, almost half of UK adults had access to at least one type of connected entertainment product

It is a completely inverse tendency compared to the previous case. In 2016 has increased the number of devices as well as the access quantities to the entertainment services through smart TV, games and videostreaming.
The cyberuser is also cyberviewer or cyberplayer. He chooses on demand and via streaming what to enjoy.
Well-informed he downloads, purchases and visualizes online.

4G adoption has more than doubled in the last year, from 25% to 54%

The net is getting faster every day; this powers the use of it, stimulating the interaction and long-distance socialization and increasing the sharing and the use of multimedia material, images and video.

31% of smartphone users make no traditional voice calls in a given week. This contrasts with a quarter in 2015, and just 4% in 2012

Instant messenger, chat, social network have changed rapidly the way of communication.
The pie chart “A day in the life of a smartphone” on page 36 explains how the smartphone follows us every moment of our day.

a_day_life_smartphone
However the smartphone is much more than a phone after all; it is a computer that provides new ways of communication and information; the users, the network users, are more and more aware.
The new ways of communication, also visual, are competing with the traditional operators offer.  They allow saving and communicating in a much more exhaustive way, visual, faster and at long-distance.

The majority of survey participants have downloaded 20 or fewer apps

The APPs have changed our way of perceiving technology by simplifying it, approaching informatics to the common user.
But this doesn’t mean that every APP is automatically a successful product; and even less, that we have to download hundreds of software applications on our device.
The user is learning to select effectively the useful APPs, necessary for his daily purposes.
The user is learning to manage his smartphone.

By mid-2016, almost two-thirds of UK adults had access to a tablet, but penetration growth had slowed down

The tablets have reached the top of their popularity.  Tools created not too long ago, are already becoming extinct.

The new generation of laptops, both computer and tablet, ultra-light, is replacing them.
Furthermore the smartphone displays are larger and larger, clearly legible. A 5/6-inch smartphone represents a good alternative to a tablet.
The tablets have had a fundamental role being  the first “touch” tools that brought web closer to citizen; they have set in motion a global digital reading process.
But technology runs very fast, inexorable; tools till yesterday innovative, gave space to new tools even more innovative.

How would we end our analysis? 

First of all thanking Deloitte for the great research from which we have taken inspiration, then with our “usual” conclusions. It is obvious, given the statistics, that the binomial person-smartphone is changing our social fabric, minor and major aspects of our life; a complex phenomenon, characterized by different tendencies and patterns of use. A fast-growing phenomenon for a long time to come, of that we are sure…in a World more and more “2.0”.

Worldtwodotzero

The PDF “Mobile consumer survey 2016 UK” of Deloitte is available at the following address: http://www.deloitte.co.uk/mobileuk/assets/pdf/Deloitte-Mobile-Consumer-2016-There-is-no-place-like-phone.pdf

 

Educating to the use of smartphone

In just six years, since 2011, the use of smartphones, and therefore the access on the move to services and contents online has increased from few percentage points, often below 1%, to over 50% of the connections.

This axiom, so clear in the percentages mentioned above, already described in our Italian article “The smartphones more used than the personal computers” has suggested us an original study.

We have positioned ourselves on an avenue of high-density of traffic in Rome, at 8:00 o’clock, in a sunny working day. We have chosen deliberately a spot of the avenue where at peak times the traffic progressively slows down and proceeds at a walking pace.

Educating Smartphone Car

Taking up a sheet of paper and a pen, bothered by the acrid unbreathable smell, we begin to write down the drivers’ behavior for an hour. The revealed data are therefore to be considered approximate by default we might have eluded some behavior.

We assure you that the sample, considering the huge traffic, is very significant in terms of numbers, age and social background.

 What have we seen? 

Approximately 2 out of 10 drivers, meaning 20%, use the smartphone for calling. They “are holding” the smartphone while driving. This behavior, dangerous and forbidden by law, was already widespread with the “normal cell phones”. The driver uses only one hand for driving, with the other one he is holding the phone and often distracted by what is happening on the road causes conversation.

Even more concerning is the fact that of these approximately 1 driver out of 20, actually almost 1.4 drivers, meaning 7%, uses the cell keyboard while driving, maybe for “texting” through chat, perhaps  through WhatsApp or Facebook.

We are dealing with a dangerous behavior because, very often, to our message follow those of our friends which, instinctively or out of curiosity, we are immediately tempted to read.

The driver sees the road “intermittently”, he is elsewhere. In some cases he places the phone on the wheel maybe to read better or even worse to write with both hands.

None of the drivers caught by us fiddling with the smartphone had a travelling companion; an aspect to be taken into consideration.

It is right to point out that the huge traffic surely stimulates this deviant behavior.  It is equally important to specify that the spot subject of monitoring doesn’t have traffic lights and the line, although continuous, has practically never had a total block, therefore, even though at a walking pace, the cars never stop, they are always on the move with lots of cars coming from other streets.

What we detected is that holding in hand the smartphone while driving is a very dangerous behavior. 

But why a very significant part of Italians is using the smartphone in a compulsive and villain way?

The first motivation stays in this article’s premise; internet and smartphones have spread very fast. There has been a lack of “education to the use of smartphone” or driver’s ed if you prefer. We use the smartphones and nothing else!

In schools it is forbidden the smartphones’ use, but there is no explanation why. This is not provided for a digital educational path, if not in some experimental cases. A significant path, arranged in more lessons, with ad hoc teaching, different in age and student sensibility, intended to explain when to go online and when is not appropriate.

On second thought, there aren’t very young people driving at 8 o’clock in the morning, so the lack of digital education doesn’t concern only the young millennials, but the adults too; the adults who live the day partly characterized by frantic rhythms partly by long waiting.  Waiting in which the smartphone acts as a socialization tool, an entertainment. The smartphone becomes an indispensable tool for alienating the boredom and for maintaining constant the frantic rhythms of our day especially when we are alone.

We need to communicate with our social web, our family and our friends, we want to share and smile a little. We find difficult to resist this need, especially when our smartphone is handy.

Let’s try to be constructive what can we do to get rid of this bad habit in adults in a short time?

It is simple, by daily broadcasting on TV (and Internet) commercials which underlines the inherent risks in using the smartphone while driving.  Broadcasting on and on alongside with those of phone companies, snacks, cars, perfumes and so on…which are being proposed to us at every hour of the day.

A digital education project, similar to those already proposed in other contexts by the Italian Progress Publicity Foundation

An innovative project which could save a lot of lives made by Italian RAI television that, we remind you, is a public communication company.

It is a simple principle: we use the mass communication tools and the web for educating as well as for convincing to buy things. Let’s use it properly and not symbolically and occasionally!  We do hope that this simple suggestion will be adopted.

We conclude with good news, during the experimental period 7 bicycles had passed us. People we presume, according to their clothes were aimed to work, cycling, with their hands tight on the handlebars and the smartphone, probably, in the pocket.

There is hope for the future! 

WorldTwoDotZero

Facebook a social tool for older people?

smart_changesLet us imagine for a moment that we are in one of our cities and equipped with a questionnaire we begin asking the name of a social network or better which one is the most used social network online? With all the probabilities we’ll get a plebiscite for Facebook. Facebook is the social network par excellence, through this tool was found the first global social web composed by hundreds of millions of knots, real or virtual it really does not matter. Because of Facebook many of us have started to use internet practically daily, interacting, expressing our feelings in front of the computer, having a cyber chat. Yet, according to the statistics, Facebook seems to go through a downturn, the following diagram (from global web index source) underlines the increasing indifference toward Facebook, no more a daily tool! The number of the daily active users has gone down during the last couple of years from over 80% to just over 50% of the members, a significant change for an important part of the users. . facebook_active_usersObviously these data must be carefully carried out and cross-checked with other indicators. However it is undeniable that in the 2013-2014 period, therefore in a rather large period of time for a social tool, for a good part of its members a change has happened in the day-to-day use of Facebook. Hundreds of millions of users, especially the youngest ones, are moving toward tools denominated “instant messenger”, fast , intuitive and low cost tools, available on smartphones, first of all Apple’s iMessage, Skype, QQ and, most of all, WhatsApp. This first social migration, a virtual diaspora, has its origins in various and concomitant factors, among these we quote:

  • The accessibility of these services on smartphone, always in our pocket.
  • A simple interface with an uncomplicated guideline, easily intuitive.
  • (Often) The absence of publicity
  • The possibility to easily send messages toward a group, to channel interests and contents toward a specific bunch of people.
  • The possibility to represent / personalise some aspects, (configurations which differ from an App to another), such as: soundproofing some communications, persons or groups, changing the background, etc…
  • The use of real friendship circles, based on phone numbers, tangible contacts and the consequent risk reduction to interact with “fake profiles”.

To sum up, a new generation of smart tools, quicker and lighter, more exclusive, are progressively replacing the traditional social tools, in vogue for almost one decade. It is interesting to observe how this evolution, still in its early stage, is accepted more by the youngest, great smartphones’ users, willing to welcome without hesitations new tools, experiencing new contexts. Probably in the next couple of years the “over 45” will be more involved in this “migration” towards instant messages. It is also important to underline how the “present” social tools have determined this acceleration toward the IMs. In fact, tools like Facebook have extended our net of friends and they have emotionally exposed us. Now the instant messengers allow us to timely address our messages, not to everybody but to a precise group of people, rationalise our emotional choices and speed up our communications. Furthermore, when it comes to novelty, all of us, especially the youngest ones, want to try it! The following diagram, source “Statista“, highlights the increasing global trend of WhatsApp. whatsapp_trendIn reply to all this, Facebook, the social network’s colossus, took immediately some countermeasures, one of this being the creation of a new IM tool denominated “Facebook messenger” which has kept loyal a significant part of users. Another one is the purchase of WhatsApp for 19 (or 22?) billion dollars and last but not least the activation of techniques of participation (email marketing) based on the constant emails to its members. Practically the stepmother, tired to hear from the magic mirror that Snow White is more beautiful than she is, has decided to have a facelift and a liposuction and then, simply to bribe Snow White (perhaps with the purpose of locking her in the castle? Who knows…) From the strategic point of view these are excellent moves, before being eroded (perhaps devoured?) by an expanding phenomenon, the result of the social acceleration online, Facebook provides an “instant” version to all of its users and at the same time, due to its well-known availability of money, incorporates the most emerging part of the IM phenomenon in order to keep under control its spreading as well as the large audience involved. Our relational universe is evolving very fast! We use faster and faster tools, interactive and instant. We are more and more addicted to social tools in order to communicate with our friends and relatives. Facebook has changed the web and our habits. It permitted us to build our first emotional-relational network, it has made it global, but now the web proceeds towards a direction even more instant. The change is so sudden, dazzling and unpredictable, that even Facebook launches on the market a “smart” and “instant” version of itself, increasing as well its promotional commitment to its members and, at the same time, managing the one that was, till few months ago, its main rival.

One last consideration regarding the privacy: with the diffusion of the IM on our smart phones what will happen with our comments, our photos and our contacts? Let us say, at best, it will be an “overexposure“… Only one decade has passed and we are only at the beginning of World 2.0, who knows what needs to happen?

WorldTwoDotZero

 In thanking the “Global Web Index” and “Statista” for the contents examined in detail published online, we remind you that WorldTwoDotZero is only a game, a web walk to take together, it doesn’t have any commercial purpose.

Estimote Stickers and the crumbs 2.0 of Tom Thumb

beaconsUp until now, our connection with internet has been active and receptive: we are the ones who decide when to connect, what to look for, whom to contact or simply when to check the news. We are active resources who use a global virtual system.
Internet is, from the interactive point of view, similar to our home phone. We contact or decide to answer to stimuli coming from other contacts, an autopoietic system whose confines have definite limits. It is necessary to use a device, an electronic device to be connected to internet, otherwise you cannot enter.
At the beginning such connection was possible only through a personal computer, a tool which still requires today, waiting times for power on and network connection. Subsequently, other devices came on the market, more immediate, such as smartphones and tablets, which can be activated in an instant and can be carried around in the pocket or purse allowing us to be often connected online during the day as many times as we want.
These devices represent only the first step to innovation, in the years to come new tools will permit us to mix, more and more, the real world with the cyber space.
The first tools which belong to this new generation are the already mentioned glasses. These glasses will increase our perception of reality adding helpful information such as: road signs, traffic data, medical information, other cybernauts’ comments on the restaurant or the hotel which we are interested in, danger alert or just the presence of one of our friends taking a walk in the vicinity and so on…
The reality will soon become a composition of real and virtual stimuli and situations.
The technology Bluetooth Smart or its natural evolution, it does not matter, will facilitate this interchange of information between our two universes, the real one and the virtual one.
In every shopping center, municipal office, school, library, coffee bar, cinema, etc, we will easily find small tools not only in condition to reveal our position GPS but also in condition to give us, immediately and consequently, potentially useful information.
The devices which have fulfilled this function up till now are the so-called iBeacon. The iBeacons are already active in all the American Apple stores; they are equipped to send to our own smart phone information concerning the device next to us, a kind of virtual salesclerk always to our disposal capable of explaining us the characteristics of the object of our interest.
Their use is even more important, although on an experimental basis, in San Francisco airport, in this case, the detectors intercept the passenger’s position and suggest to the blind and partially-sighted persons the direction to follow and the gate to reach, through the “VoiceOver” reader.
There are analogous experimentations in action or in progress among other international airports as well as in some subways, such as the one of London.
In short, a real tool, a small detector, crosses virtual lines with our (real) steps in order to provide us in real time (virtual) information on the surrounding real world. Obviously the promiscuity between real and virtual makes thinner and thinner the boundary between the two universes.
It is no coincidence that the literary translation of the term “beacon” it is “lighthouse”, because of the potential light that these tools can throw illuminating some aspects of our daily life.
This new technology reveals itself rather economical both in terms of installation and activation, around 20 dollars per location, as well as in terms of energetic consumptions for the devices that receive the information, for the time being smartphones and tablets, in the future smartwatches, digital glasses and who knows what else.
The last frontier is that of the “Estimote Stickers“, small sticky beacons, almost imperceptible which can be placed anywhere in order to allow the construction of uncountable virtual paths, unlimited situations in which our smartphones, smartwatches, google glasses,… receive additional information from internet.
The telepass, the ATM, the GPS receiver, the road signs on the highway, are all the precursors of this new symbiotic generation of tools. A surplus of digital information in a position to follow us step by step which is to be added to our social network. System that for some years already mixes real friendships with virtual friends met online.
Will we succeed in gaining from this jungle of virtual information?
Providing today useful information to blind persons is certainly an excellent result. Contrariwise, it is more difficult to hypothesize the effects of this bombardment of digital information on the next generations. There is a possible risk after all, useless to deny it, and that is ending up focusing a great part of our attention on digital contents, distracting it from concrete natural events.
But what I am sure of is that this technology will make enormous strides in the coming years because stimulated by the trading world which sees in the possibility of monitoring closely the consumer/user, the best way to incentivize a purchase.
We will become many Tom Thumbs 2.0 and in the deep forest we will switch on our smartphones and, thanks to the estimotes stickers positioned on every tree, we will easily find our way back home…