Innovation: Skin Call


Recognizing that phones have advanced over time, but that our relationship with them hasn’t, RIM (Blackberry’s research division) has collaborated with The Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamly Centre to consider how smartphones could become more personal and how they could mimic real life interruptions.

Designing around human behavior and researching how people react with each other in a more intimate space, they designed two concepts around a new digital protocol. The first ‘Smart Call’ uses new software that offers more information about the caller such as the urgency or a timeframe that a response is required in. Attached in a small message on the screen when the call comes through, it allows people to make decisions on whether to take the call at that time or not.

SkinDisplay is the second concept that offers a discreet way for users to find out who is calling and why without even having to remove the phone from their pocket.  Future forecasting a morphable material covering the phone – a raised message appears on the back of the phone, which makes an imprint on the skin. Transferred through pressure the message is imprinted temporarily on the skin and can be easily erased by rubbing the skin.

What is interesting about these concepts is that they suggest ways of digitally communicating but are more closely linked to face-to-face interactions and communications that are based on the complexities of human behavior.

In concept stage, such projects do offer a glimpse into the direction that leading telecommunications companies are taking their research and development, looking to behavior and need rather than want.

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