MMS for the Technically Challenged

narrowcastingtv1.jpgOne of the hardest things for power users of technology (which includes all of you MobHappy readers) is to understand how most of the rest of the world uses technology. Sure, kids will pick up most things pretty quickly, like languages, sport, maths as well as tech, but most people simply get out of the habit of learning new stuff – certainly as effortlessly as they once did.

And some of them lack motivation to use technology. I know a banking consultant in her 30s, clearly very bright, who refuses to switch on her mobile at weekends. This applies even if she’s meeting someone, so if you arrange something, you need to be on time, or you miss her. It’s very retro, pre-mobile, but meeting someone like that can still work surprisingly well.

So when you design a cool new service or application, it’s important to figure out how others might use it. The kid might be able to send an MMS to their grandma, or indeed, even a parent. But will the older person work out how to view it?

So I found¬†this idea from the¬†Emotional Communication project,¬†spotted on Regine’s WMMNA, rather fascinating in its simplicity and clear thinking. It allows you to send messages from your phone to someone else’s TV (admittedly via their mobile phone). So provided you buy granny a phone and set it up for her, she can switch channels and see all your messages and photos.

Naturally, there are still some practical issues with the concept, but it is an art/tech project and we can afford to be generous and focus on the thinking behind it.

As the pace of technology increases, there is a real danger that a significant proportion of the population will be come completely disconnected from essential services unless we make them embrace technology soon. For instance, accessing a bank account may well be impossible in 10 years or so, without having a working knowledge of computing. Ditto applying for a Passport, driving licence, paying utility bills or claiming a pension.

One day, even the geekiest among you will be unable to grasp a part of a new technology – face it, it’ll happen at some point. The challenge for the industry¬†is to focus more on usability, education and motivating this growing part of the population to get involved and not just give up on it.

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