Left- and Right-Hand Sensing

This kind of thing must happen hundreds of times a day: a driver wants his passenger to enter a new destination in the car's GPS, but can't because that function is blocked while the car is in motion.  It's a safety feature designed to keep the driver from distraction, but it overshoots and blocks the passenger from helping.  This situation calls for a new sensor, something that's capable of distinguishing a passenger's interaction from a driver's interaction - and Cirque's new sensor that can tell which hand you're using seems like the right (or left?) way to go.  If it's the left hand being used on the center dashboard, that's the passenger - unless the driver is doing some crazy contortions, of course.  A sensor like this would be useful for the most part, although (like many sensors) probably annoying when it reads things wrong.  But still, the more sensors the better, so the whole system can see what's really going on, and work as it's designed.

eReader: One Worthy Dedicated Device

As tablets become more and more popular, device makers and users are figuring out how and where they like to do things: email, web stuff, games, videos, music, reading...  Generally, tablets are a great all-in-one device.  But it's starting to seem like one single-purpose dedicated device is still worthwhile: the humble eInk electronic reader.  And it's not about the features they offer - long battery life, sunlight-readable display, small and lightweight and low-cost - but rather it's about the features they lack.  As pointed out by the New York Times and Gizmodo, reading is an activity that's best with full immersion and no distractions - and while multifunction tablets are all about distractions, eReaders simply lack the capability.  It's the same frame of mind that makes you want to turn your phone off (or chuck it into the ocean) while on vacation:  disconnect, get away, and lose yourself in a book.  And unlike your tablet, you can trust your eReader to leave you to it.

The Case For Cases

Gizmodo recently posted a plea for people to stop ruining their phones with a stupid case - and while I respect that opinion (and love their blog, as the source for almost half of my own posts!), I feel compelled to make the case for phone cases.  Reasonable people may disagree, but I think both sides deserve to be represented!  So, to address some of their points:

1. "It's unnatural. Your phone wasn't designed to be covered up." True enough, but your phone also wasn't designed to be invincible. It was design to look sexy, and to be as thin as possible. People are willing to blame themselves when they drop and shatter their phones - but the design shares some of the blame for enabling it.  A case makes up for an artificially de-prioritized design goal.

2. "It's not worth it."  They're talking about resale value, scratches, stuff like that - but I'm more concerned with the case protecting the phone against a catastrophic drop that kills the phone entirely.  In that case, $30 to protect a $600 total-replacement cost isn't a bad deal!

3. Consider the point of view.  Like I said, I love Gizmodo - but they're all tech writers.  Their whole lives involve getting and playing with all the newest electronics, so the value they place on any one device is probably much lower than those of us with one phone. They know they'll get the next one as soon as it comes out - and the early-upgrade cost is a business expense. We should all be so lucky - and live caseless and carefree.

As for me?  My iPhone 4S is in a case at the moment; it'll probably go naked once it's one year old, like my 3G did.  So people can come to their own conclusions - but in any case (ha), be sure to see both sides!

Phone Stack: Unpressable buttons for social etiquette...

There's little denying that ever-present devices and always-on networks have taken a toll on basic social interactions - it's never been easier to be with friends or family without really being there.  To combat this, some people make rules: I'm sure oodles of parents enforce a strict "no phones at the dinner table."  To apply it to your peers, though, takes a little something extra - and gamifying the rule might just do it.  This game, most commonly called Phone Stack, is pretty simple:  stack your phones on the table at the beginning of a meal, and whoever breaks the stack first pays for everyone.  It makes your buttons unpressable, literally - unless you want to pay.  In the meantime, I guess you'll have no choice but to socialize with the other people who are actually there!
[via Gizmodo]