Many people are addicted to their mobile devices and the constant flow of information. In social settings, such as work meetings, people know it's wrong and try to hide their device checking in many ways, including:
The User Interface group at Autodesk Research conducted a survey of more than 200 people and 94% reported getting caught using a mobile device. Helping people to sneak a peak more easily seemed like a good challenge and the team looked towards magicians to see if they could learn things that could be applied to software and device design.
The team came up with some pretty cool gadgets including:
The Phoney Phone is an app that makes ones' phone look likes it's sleeping while letting the user see the results of their tapping on an alternate screen that could be hidden in the bottom of a coffee cup. To an observer, they may just look like they are fidgeting or contemplating the last sip of a drink.
The Magput hides sensors in a pencil and a notebook. What may appear to be random tapping or doodling could actually be be some serious work.
You can see these gadgets in action and test how easy they are to tell when someone is using them in the following short video clip.
When designing for subtle interactions, designers should consider many of the same things magicians do:
To take this magic further, Tovi covering for Fraser who was getting married at the time (congrats, Fraser!), added a magician to the presentation of this research at CHI 2015. The show is below.
Beyond helping people to sneak a peak at their devices, these techniques could be used to:
For more details on the research and how some of these devices were made and controlled, please refer to the publication entitled Supporting Subtlety with Deceptive Devices and Illusory Interactions.