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Communications Technology

Futuristic Nokia Concepts Reviewed 100

Posted by Zonk
from the shiny-toys dept.
nitinah writes "Nokia design concepts is an ongoing initiative from the Finnish communications giant that invites designers around the world to create breakthrough cellphone designs. Phonemag has coverage of this year's entries, which includes the Aki, a wrist wrap device for programmed self expression that tunes its behavior and outgoing/incoming communications based on the moods and gestures of the user, and allows 'talking' without speaking, just by gesture. Another design is the Acibo, which features a mini buddy device that has an entirely voice driven all-in-one personal communicator which can be charged by bio-energy. More featured concepts include a wearable, shock proof and waterproof device, the SURV1, a necklace based communicator called the Global Nomad , and a complete communication device called the Colores, with virtual storage to access all your personal information on the go."
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Futuristic Nokia Concepts Reviewed

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  • Oh please, oh please, stop making futuristic cell phones. How about some today phones. Phones that work. Phones that sound good. Phones that have decent battery life.

    Last time I looked at cell phones, the only ones on display at the kiosk were camera phones. I asked to look at just a plane old cell phone. She asked why I would want a phone that couldn't take pictures. Hwah?

    Let's see, what is Nokia considering:

    • the Aki, a wrist strap device for programmed self expression? Hell most people aren't
    • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @11:05PM (#13749064)
      In this case, I think Nokia need it. They have had the same lead designer for ten years or so; which might explain why their phones all look so similar too.

      Anyhow - fresh blood and ideas are always welcome. Think Appple, they do have some wacko ideas coming out regularly. Who else would have suggested an iPod, or those ****ugly iMac? Nokia need som more weird things too, after a decade of mobile traditionalism.
    • by Jeffv323 (317436) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @11:17PM (#13749097)
      Maybe you are no longer the target market for cell phone companies. At any rate, these things in the article are called prototypes, and they are absolutely necessary when you want compete in the market for gadgets that do more and more things every day. Nobody knows what kids will want tomorrow. But if you keep a fresh buffet of shiny new things for them to pick from, you are sure to keep their attention.

      As for your complaints of the current phones on the market, "Phones that work. Phones that sound good. Phones that have decent battery life." From what I understand and have seen, nearly every phone in the store has those attributes. I myself have a brand new phone that I picked up about a month ago. It is a phone that you would not want. Two high resolution color displays, mp3 player with stereo speakers, 1 megapixel video / still camera.

      "It works. " Check.

      "It sounds good." Well, I have had no problem hearing people. I have taken it to a bowling alley, and people I talked to did not hear the ambient noise in the background. The speakerphone is also very clear and loud, and surprisingly lacks the echo that seems to be prevalent on most landline phones. I was impressed.

      "It has a decent battery life." I use about 500 minutes a month. I have gone as long as 36 hours without plugging it in and making average amounts of calls throughout my two days. Also, I was testing the phone when I first got it. I watched a little over an hour's worth of video, listened to music for about an hour, and of course made some phone calls (didn't take note of how many) but in the end the battery was showing half full. Not exactly scientific, but batteries and power management are getting good across the board.

      So, my recommendation is to buy the phone that you hate the least, and in a week you will be used to it. There you go.
    • by gl4ss (559668) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @11:20PM (#13749110) Homepage Journal
      concepts are like fashion crap you seen on catwalks, experiments. if I wanted a phone that didn't do anything else than make calls and get sms's, I'd still use my old 3110 - which works perfectly for making calls. the 3110 doesn't double as a mp3 player though, it doesn't take pictures(I don't carry my 'real' digital camera everywhere), it doesn't let me get into irc, it doesn't let me ssh, it doesn't let me read news for practically free(sms ordering news is just damn expensive). hell, the 3110 doesn't let me read slashdot while in a train.

      anyways, even nokia makes still low-end phones that have intentionally cut features, like 1110, if you want to pay practically the same you would for a j2me phone with a color screen..

      put it this way: why would you as a _geek_ want to pay the same for a device that only does one thing as you would for a device that has flexibility to do a lot of things - if you wish - and it still does the phone calls good. call quality in a well built network has been excellent since gsm came(first gsm network was launched in 1991), if your network is shit then it doesn't really help what the phone is. also if your operator ties it's plans to phones you don't like then it's your operators fault, not the phone manufacturers who just manufacture what is bought from them..

      switch operators if your mobile doesn't work as it should and you know it's not borked.
    • The best part is that they're continuing to add functionality to these phones when the existing functionality already doesn't work very well at all. My boss has one of those PDA-cell phone combos, and the thing spontaneously reboots itself for no particular reason at least twice a day.

      He recently discovered that he can make it crash at will simply by checking his email on his desktop machine at the same time the phone is attempting to check his email. I mean honestly, what the fuck is up with that?

      I under
    • by McSmithster (917730) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @11:25PM (#13749125)
      You pretty much said everything I was thinking. These are by far some of the worst ideas I've seen in mobile technology. Fortunately they are just designs and will never make it to the market. In fact Im left wondering how some of these things even relate to mobile phones and devices. Its like they got together and had some weird conversation.

      Nokia Exec : Hey you designers over there, you go design us some futurist concepts for mobile devices.

      Designer 1: Sure thing, ok so what are we going to do???

      Designer 2: Hey lets make things like electronic necklaces and talking robot heads.

      Designer 1: Are you sure thats what Nokia wants? I thought they were into mobile phones

      Designer 2: Ya ok, so we will throw in some ridiculous fragile looking thing, cause all futuristic crap must look fragile, and then we design my talking head.

      Designer 1: Whats up with you and this talking head???

      Designer 2: Just think, phone sex will never be the same again hehehe.

      Designer 1: OHHH DAMN, thats good. Every nerd will buy one. Your brilliant.

      Designer 2: Ya, we will even have it so that it will recharge while the user does a stroking motion. And with most nerds I would imagine that would be a lot.

      Designer 1: HOLY CRAP, Im sold.

      Nokia Exec: Me too.
      • by rilister (316428) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @01:15PM (#13751399)
        Good grief. These are concept designs. They aren't trying to sell *you* these things: particularly not the 'that sux, won't work' contingent at Slashdot. They didn't spend your money designing them.

        These are concepts, meaning ideas, thoughts. You're lucky they shared them with you, since Nokia knows (as well as you do) that they're half-baked.

        Linus Pauling: "If you want a good idea, first get a lot of ideas"

        Key concept:lighten up, dude. They're supposed to be fun.

        I happen to believe the guesture element of the first concept is pretty cool - the stance you hold the camera in determines it's behaviour. No buttons.
    • This may be slightly off-topic, but I think it's worth mentioning. Is it just me or have Nokia phones become seriously unreliable lately.

      I purchased a brand new 8800 a couple of weeks ago, only to have to return it when I got home to find that it refused to turn on. I was told at the store that the phone was faulty, beyond repair, but having spent over $1000 on it they replaced it on the spot with a completely new one.

      I was rather unimpressed to find that this new replacement was also D.O.A. After headi

    • Most of the pictures seem to be 3d renderings or concept art. The whole thing stinks of either a PR pack (a packet for webmasters/journalists to quickly create material for a story) or a hoax. Don't hold your breath for these phones.
    • Well, here's my list:

      - Easily sync data (i.e. contacts, phone book, birthdays etc) between my phone, friends phones, home PC and work PC. Use bluetooth or a cable, not SMS.
      - Don't charge me $50 for a cable for the above like you do now.
      - Pick a standard connector for all phones you make and stick to it. Don't make me buy a new handsfree/car kit, cables etc for a new phone.
      - Better yet, make your hands free an industry standard 3.5/2.5 mm plug.
      - Make your chargers standard too, how about 12v like in a car?
    • by macpeep (36699) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @03:26AM (#13749626)
      I live in Finland - the country that Nokia is based in and a country that has been at the forefront of mobile phone development for at least the past 10 years. I have to say I don't understand at all the "I want a phone that is just a phone" or "I want a phone that works" type of comments.

      I can't even remember when I've had a phone that didn't work. In the past 10+ years, the battery life on every phone I've had has been good enough that I have charged them about twice a week; that's 3+ days of real-life battery life that includes plenty of calls, text messages, etc. Reception has always been good and the only time I remember having dropped calls is when I've been in an elevator going down to an underground parking hall or something as extreme. Hell, even on my recent hiking trip in the mountains in Norway, there was reception half of the time. And that was far from any civilization! On the roads on the way to the mountains, there was good reception 100% of the time. Either way, reception is more about the deployment of base stations than about the phone. The last phone I had with an external antenna was 5 years ago anyway.

      As far as functionality is concerned, I also don't get the complaint at all. There are plenty of models for all tastes. Let's look at Nokia, which this article is about:

      Nokia 1100, 1110, 2650, 2600, 3100, 3120, 3220. None of them have a camera. You are free to pick one. Or if your carrier doesn't offer one, it's probably because nobody wants them!

      Having said that, I wish people would get over the "phone" label. It's a device. Who gives a damn about what the name of it is? Not wanting a "phone" to have a camera or mp3 player is similar to saying that your don't want your computer to have the ability to play mp3's or view photos from your digital camera. It's a COMPUTER. It should only COMPUTE.

      Seriously, it's a device and it has a bunch of features that makes sense to people in their daily lives. And you get whichever device (or none) that makes sense to you.

      I have a Nokia 6630 right now and it's perfect for my use. It has 3G, EDGE and GPRS. It has tri-band GSM and it has Bluetooth. That means I can use it pretty much anywhere in the world! And with 3G/EDGE and Bluetooth, I can get Internet access to my laptop anywhere in the world too. I can sit in Starbucks in Shanghai and surf the net and read emails on the laptop while the phone is in my backpack, without ever touching a button on it. That's important to me, because I travel a lot and because I like to work in cafes, restaurants etc.

      The phone has a 1.3 megapixel camera and a lens with less crappy quality than on most other mobile phone cameras. That allows me to snap pics of booths on tradeshows and MMS or email them to colleagues back in Finland. "Check out what company X is showing!". Or I can send my wife pictures of the beautiful lake by the sauna at the company off-site. "Wish you were here!". Obviously, it's not a replacement for my actual camera, which takes 100x better quality pictures. But the useage is different and I don't want to carry around my camera everywhere!

      The phone has an email app. It lets me check my email when I'm somewhere where I don't want to take the laptop along. For example, I could be hiking in Lapland but I still want to check if we got that major deal that I was hoping would have been done before my vacation began. I don't use it much, but there are times when it's been a real life saver.

      The phone has an XHTML web/wap browser. I use it to check the news, weather, TV-program listings, view webcams from Finland when I'm traveling, check what movies are in what theater and at what time, and even to order movie tickets once in a while. It's also good to do the occasional Wikipedia or Google lookup.

      It has Symbian OS and Java, so I can play some fun games on it to pass the time on the subway or while waiting for a connecting flight. Or I can run some other useful apps, like IRC, AOL IM, MSN IM, SSH, BusWatch, WorldMate, Opera, etc. There's tons,
    • Get an Nokia 1100 [nokia.com] and stop whining.

      Nice karma whoring, BTW.

    • As is always the case with stuff like this, the designs look like year two design student work .. just not all that good.

      Also, the other major stumbling block is thinking in such painfully straight lines.

      If I was thinking about a concept mobile / cell phone, I'd be thinking about something in the next twenty years, whereby the phone is simple two tiny implants in your body; one in your ear, one in your throat, all powered by your own body heat or from your blood, all of which are entirely feasible.

      Min
  • Sadly (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 08, 2005 @10:44PM (#13749018)
    Phone functions have been removed from all of these devices due to space limitations.
  • These must be the most ridiculous items to be called mobile phones ever. Just what I want to carry, a little talking ball that backtalks to me when I ask it to call someone.

    God forbid I miss that important call while scuba diving. I'm sure my clients would love to talk to me underwater.

    What's wrong with just making a quality phone with good RF and solid networking...

  • Unusable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Numair (77943) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @10:45PM (#13749022) Homepage
    The user interfaces for these things completely suck. Anyone remember that retarded "rotary dial" interface on the 3650? Yeah, well, here's more from the same people who brought you that piece of crap ...
    • Re:Unusable (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @02:03AM (#13749424) Homepage Journal
      contrary to popular belief 3650's dial was actually VERY good to text on, with one thumb handling either side of the 'dial', it was so fast people wouldn't believe that you were irc'ing from a mobile.

      if you dial long numbers by finger memory, and would need a traditional 9 pad for that, then you're in the minority of people nowadays. most of the numbers people call are stored in the phones phonebook(it looks just unnatural when people in tv shows or movies type long numbers into the phone when calling someone who's number they should have in it already).

      but these are just *concept* models, not "real".
    • Unusable interfaces aside, as the EUCD starts to take effect it is going to make working with computer-based communications systems much more of a pain than it already is. That and if the problem off software/algorithm/business method patents becomes real in Europe will make it so the only option will be to rearrange what they already have.
    • "Anyone remember that retarded "rotary dial" interface on the 3650? Yeah, well, here's more from the same people who brought you that piece of crap ..."

      I had one of these and I have no idea what you're bitching about. I mistyped numbers far less often with the 3650 than I do with the traditional clamshell phone I have now. The main reason for this is that the radial design allowed for more space in between the buttons.

      "OH, gee, it looks different! I could never get used to that!! Bitch bitch bitch bitch
      • I second that. I have a 7600 [nokia.com] with the buttons down the sides in two rows, and I have to say that after a few days of "wtf?" it has become far faster and easier to use for applications than a traditional keypad. Two thumbs, one either side, and no obstruction of the screen.
    • > Anyone remember that retarded "rotary dial" interface on the 3650?

      Hey, i have exactly this phone, and for me the "rotary dial" totally rocks!
      I would never exchange it against a "normal" layout!
      It's hard to explain, but it simply feels better to type with it.

      Sure... you could make it better. But it's a good idea to start with. And isn't it better to innovate, than to reuse a design that is unchanged for, what, 50+ years now?

      You know what i always have to think when i read/hear comments like yours?
      "Preju
      • And I suppose this is why they had to go back and redesign the phone with a standard keypad? Because you know, it was such a stunning success ...
  • Does this mean (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @10:49PM (#13749031) Journal
    that Nokia is out of ideas? Can't they go down the street to Ikea and get some more?
  • by fragmentate (908035) * <jdspilled@@@gmail...com> on Saturday October 08, 2005 @10:50PM (#13749032) Journal
    Subject says it all.

    Most companies are making their phones for the carriers. Which means out of the last 4 camera phones I've had, I've had to buy a service to get the pictures off. Yeah, I can buy some 3rd party hack to do the job, but these hacks would work so much better if the phone had been designed for my personal use. Instead, they're designed so the carriers can make more money.

    So, they can make all the fancy phones they want, I've ceased buying them.

    Now that I think about it, I'm probably the only one that cares...
    • Just by chance, I happened across a sweet deal on the Danger Hiptop II, known as the Sidekick II on T-Mobile in the USA. The camera sucks a bit, but then I didn't want it for that really. It is almost everything that I want in a personal communications device currently.

      Yeah, the browser needs some help, and a little more lattitude in usage would be nice, but all things considered, the service and functionality of the Danger device is very cool. You might want to look at that because its got a good service p
    • I care, and I'm with you all the way [slashdot.org] buddy.

    • by Slashdiddly (917720) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @11:06PM (#13749068)
      Maybe they would make phones for consumers if consumers paid for them. However, at least in the US, most phones are heavily ($200-$300) subsidized by carriers. So the simple answer is, as always: follow the money.
      • This is probably true in US and Europe, but here in Asia, the phones usually aren't subsidized, and still, people change phones regularly and far more often than people who are bound by carrier plans. I've been eyeing the Nokia 6630 for a while and finally I'm gonna be buying one this month to replace my aging N-Gage QD. And I'm only buying because there's a price drop from almost $400 to $300.

      • This is why I ordered a "sim free" t630 from the UK. I use it here in the US with any gsm carrier I want. They inevitably force me to accept some "free" phone that I promptly donate to whoever wants/need it.

    • But the "consumers" are not the handset manufacturers' customers. The carriers are, so end users' demands don't really matter.
    • I bought a Motorola V551 recently. It has the same "dock" connector as the previous V60i I had. Why would I want to buy this phone?

      It does pretty much everything the new RAZR does, except it doesn't look as "slick". oh well, money in my pocket. In addition, I've got 2 home chargers now, as well as one at work, and one in my car that can still be used.

      I also bought a USB data cable off of EBay. That, and some software that Motorola sells *cough cough* and you can do a lot of neato things with this phone
    • Presumably you ended up buying a verizon or sprint phone that are notoriously crippled.
      Consider buying a more mainstream GSM based phone. The GSM phones are less likely to be futzed with by the carriers.
    • > Now that I think about it, I'm probably the only one that cares...

      nope. everyone else gets their pics, music, vids on and off the handset with bluetooth, IR, or a USB cable.

      Switch carriers or handsets until you can do that.

  • by starling (26204)
    The Rev. Spooner would be shocked at the idea of someone giving their geeky wife Noble Gonads.
  • The Aki (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by lxt (724570)
    See, now electronic tagging of prisoners can be cool too!
  • oh come on (Score:4, Insightful)

    by akhomerun (893103) on Saturday October 08, 2005 @11:07PM (#13749070)
    this isn't even realistic. phones have been the same, weak, slow, useless crap for the last 10 years. even if these phones are plausibile, they are totally unergonomic and unrealistic. i mean what planet are these guys on?

    even if any of these devices become plausible, the cell phone companies won't touch them because they don't involve ripping off the customer for $3 ringtones

    furthermore, isn't it easier to just push buttons rather than to remember stupid gestures that you have to act out in public and look like a complete idiot?

    • phones have been the same, weak, slow, useless crap for the last 10 years.
      are you still saying that cell phones are useless? 1992 called (on their weak, slow, useless, crappy cell phones), they want their bitching back. Is slow even a valid complaint? do you suffer delay when you speak into your cell? Or are you pouting that Verizon isn't delivering on their promise of "Broadband Quality Video!!!!"?
      • slow as in how fast they can run mobile applications. phones still run crummy 2D games and are still slower than a gameboy advance with only a few (expensive) exceptions.

        slow as in their user interface, in many cases, uses more resources than the phones have to offer. i don't mind a slow phone as long as it doesn't try to win you over with impossibly slow eye-candy

        and by useless i mean the fact that #1 the voice quality still sucks, #2 they still get dropped calls, and #3 the only real new feature that ph
    • this isn't even realistic. phones have been the same, weak, slow, useless crap for the last 10 years. even if these phones are plausibile, they are totally unergonomic and unrealistic. i mean what planet are these guys on?

      I read that as 'ungnomic' and the first thought was "Yeah! We need better phones for the gnome people to use!"

      Thank you so very much for that. My inability to read has made my night.

  • "...which can be charged by bio-energy"

    uhh...okay spock.
  • They could'nt compete with motorola so they had to open source it? Sounds a bit like SUNW.
  • I lurv a good pathetic fallacy as much as anyone.

    Some of these, especailly the "Aki", ranks among the all time greats of things fashioned by repeatedly being beaten by the stupid stick.

    There were mood rings [howstuffworks.com]; and, one of my favs, pet rocks [virtualpet.com] (I keep mine in my shoe). Then there was/is the virtual pet [virtualpet.com].

    Stupid though they be ya gotta admire the chutzpa to market this stuff. Somewhere in a virtual heaven Willy Loman [wikipedia.org] is smiling down on Nokia.

  • Hmmm...

    The Aki allows communication only by gestures. The SURV1 is completely waterproof. I guess if you could combine these features in one phone, you would have the ideal device to call for help if you get in trouble while diving.

    I am having real difficulty coming up with any other practical benefits to any of these devices.

    • Oh come on, be realistic, the Aki would be totally useful if you were kidnapped by blind people! I was three times last week, if only I'd have had an Aki.

      I love the idea of the spotty teenager accidentally calling his friends every time he looks at porn however.
  • More featured concepts include a wearable, shock proof and waterproof device, the SURV1

    They misspelled "pad of paper and a pencil".
  • "the Aki, a wrist wrap device for programmed self expression that tunes its behavior and outgoing/incoming communications based on the moods and gestures of the user, and allows 'talking' without speaking, just by gesture"

    I'm sure no Slashdotter would want something like that. It's not such much the concept is bad as putting it on the wrist might reveal too much without a whole lot of talking...

  • Better ideas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 09, 2005 @12:56AM (#13749288) Homepage
    Here's a better idea, and one that's quite buildable - the two piece jewelry phone. One piece is an earring; that's the speaker end. The other is a necklace or choker; that has the microphone. Voice controlled, using something like Wildfire's semi-intelligent interface. No ring tones; a subtle whisper tells the user who's calling, and a head-toss quietly diverts the call to voicemail. Finally, an elegant phone.
  • The bouncy ball cell phone is okay, what I'd really like to see is a wind up generator similiar to emergency wind up radios, if one exists for a decent price already, I'd love to see it. I wouldnt even mind a .5 cubic feet one, if it supported multiple voltages and generated enough power to maintain a cell phone or maybe efficient laptop.
  • Sounds a lot like the name of the protagonist from "Final Fantasy: Spirits Within", which I believe was Dr. Aki Ross, and that Nokia phone/watch of the same name sure as heck looks a like hers. http://www.rpgamer.com/games/ff/affw/ffmov/propaga nda/watch1.jpg [rpgamer.com]
  • nokia's tell you what to do! [phonemag.com]
  • Ever since Nokia won the best design team award back in 2003 they have been cranking out crap. I was developing software for cell phones and everytime a new Nokia model would come in we would laugh at it. Not only was the UI usually braindead (3650 rotary dial comes to mind - or how about the stupid NGage "sidetalker"), but the electronics kept perpetuating the same flaws. Our company was were putting music on cell phones (over the air delivery of full tracks), and for some reason Nokia insisted on mono 16K
  • It's not about the phone it's about the carrier and the carriers will just cripple these new concepts so that they can fuck you over on the premium serive charges.

    And let's face facts - only about 15% of cell phone owners ever bother to use all the extra features. Not even the camera once they get that first picture email bill.
  • What the (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by LS (57954)
    The Colores concept featured by Nokia provides a fully packed communication device that lets you handle your digital life ubiquitously, allowing you to access and share information seamlessly on the go.

    What a load of crap! This is so 1998? Let's break this down.

    * fully packed - what does this phone have that others don't? I don't see a hard drive. a GPU? An altimeter?
    * communication device - um, we say phone around these them parts
    * digital life - Until I get a jack in the back of my neck, this is no

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