Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Monday, March 14, 2005

Nintendo Dual-Screen and the mobile UI...

I played with the new Nintendo dual-screen today. I wanted to gauge the user experience for myself. Leaving aside the fact that I am generally hopeless at computer games, I found the device very usable, or should I say "playable"?

I had wondered before why no one has thought of this yet for mobiles. Perhaps they have...but I couldn't find one in my brief scan of the web. (There must be one in Japan..right?)

What the dual-screen offers is better interactivity with the applications. It is important to understand that the bottom screen is touch sensitive. During the game that I played, interaction was via virtual buttons on the bottom screen, like "1 player", "2 player" etc. In other words, you simply hit a meaningfully labeled button, not scroll up and down (or across) with a joystick. As I played, new buttons appeared, with different labels, and I touched accordingly.

This seems a very useful user interface possibility for mobiles. Dual-screen will also allow greater screen real estate for site viewing. I'm sure that industrial design might allow for a screen that hinges out from its partner with very little physical discontinuity between them caused by the hinging and screen fixings.

An interesting feature of the new device is a wireless application called Pictochat. Users can scribble messages to each other. I have always been fond of this idea and once proposed designing a device called "Scribble Pad" to a few colleagues. Like so many ideas, we figured out how to do it and then did nothing...

My renewed interest in this idea was when I realised that with SVGL, we now have an open standard with which to exchange hand-written scribbles. My favourite application for this is to allow users to scribble on photos and then send them (which I discussed in an old paper about "air graffiti", or "spatial messaging").

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