My new PC is a mobile phone - techniques and technology for the new smallness

DIKU-talk by Patrick Baudisch

Neither desktop computers nor the hundred-dollar laptop are the mass computation platform of this world - mobile phones are. 4 billion of them. So how come we still use PCs?

Mobile devices have a major limitation: mobility requires smallness. Initially, miniaturization of hardware drove miniaturization at a fast pace, but limitations are not primarily technical anymore: Today, it is almost exclusively human factors. Screens need to be large enough to be seen, keyboards large enough to be typed on. These factors, however, are practically invariant.

In this presentation, I take a closer look at the research that emerges from the tension between the desire to perform complex tasks and the desire for mobility. In the first half of the talk, I examine whether it is possible to perform on mobile devices those complex tasks that we today still perform on "large screen" desktop computers. Should we visually compress our applications or try to virtually "extend" our small screens by storing information in off-screen space? Then I look at what mobile devices in ten years may look like. These devices could be ten times smaller than today's devices and may be worn, rather than carried. I present a series of prototypes that appear transparent in order to allow operation via the device backside and a new breed of tiny touch devices that achieve the required accuracy by taking the users' fingerprints into account. I will conclude with an attempt to predict the ultimate fate of mobile device miniaturization.

Patrick Baudisch is a professor in Computer Science at Hasso Plattner Institute in Berlin/Potsdam and chair of the Human Computer Interaction Lab, as well as an Affiliate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Washington. Previously, he worked as a research scientist in the Adaptive Systems and Interaction Research Group at Microsoft Research. His research focus is on interaction with small screen devices, which evolved from a series of research projects on interaction with wall displays he started at Xerox PARC. While at Fraunhofer-IPSI and during his stay as a guest researcher at the GroupLens project at the University on Minnesota, Baudisch worked on user interfaces for information filtering systems. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany.