Continuous partial attention

“continuous partial attention n. A state in which most of one’s attention is on a primary task, but where one is also monitoring several background tasks just in case something more important or interesting comes up. Also: CPA.”

Continuous partial attention is one of the side effects of mobile networked computing; it’s parasitic on our desires to feel connected to other people.


Continuous partial attention is an always on, anywhere, anytime, any place behavior that creates an artificial sense of crisis. We are always in high alert. We reach to keep a top priority in focus, while, at the same time, scanning the periphery to see if we are missing other opportunities, and if we are, our very fickle attention shifts focus. What’s ringing? Who is it? How many emails? What’s on my list? What time is it in Beijing?

“Continuous partial attention and multi-tasking are two different attention strategies, motivated by different impulses. When we multi-task, we are motivated by a desire to be more productive and more efficient. Each activity has the same priority – we eat lunch AND file papers. We stir the soup AND talk on the phone…We multi-task to CREATE more opportunity for ourselves -time to DO more and time to RELAX more.

Even more >

Listen to Podcast

Eye movement simulator

The image below displays a simulation of human eye movement in the form of heat maps.

eye movement heat map

The Feng-GUI heatmap service is an automatic alternative to eye-tracking. Unlike eye-tracking or click-based heatmaps, Feng-GUI creates heatmaps based on an algorithm that predicts what a real human would be most likely to look at.

Read their explanation on how accurate their algorithms are….

via kingsley

Usability Tests on Mobile Phones

Here’s the executive summary of usability test findings conducted on 3 next-generation smartphones: the Nokia N95, the HTC touch, and the Apple iPhone.

Users with no smartphone experience conducted a series of 8 tasks on each device in order to determine how the devices fared in terms of overall usability. The study also assessed user perceptions of the devices in terms of ease of use, quality, pleasure-to-use, complexity of function-set, appropriateness for business use, and personal purchase preference.

Main Findings:
• Participants completed more tasks successfully using the iPhone than they did using either the HTC Touch or the Nokia N95.
• Participants successfully completed tasks twice as fast (on average) on the iPhone as they did on the HTC Touch or Nokia N95.
• Participants were more interested in purchasing the iPhone for themselves, although the HTC Touch and iPhone were both selected as being appropriate for business users. Users perceived the iPhone to be more complex than the Nokia N95 in terms of the number of features and functions offered.
• In addition to user testing, our cognitive psychologists conducted a heuristic review based on a qualitative scoring of each device along five dimensions (global navigation, usability/information architecture, ergonomics, look-and-feel, and breadth of functionality). The iPhone scored higher on the expert review than both the HTC Touch and Nokia N95.

iPhone did seem to live up to its hype.

Feature comparison Apple iPhone vs Nokia N95

Unlocked Apple iPhone

Just unlocked my brand new Apple iPhone with a firmware version of 1.1.4

Unlocking iPhone for FREE:

  1. Downloaded and installed the free unlocking software Ziphone version 3.0 (30th of March 2008), from
  2. Connected iPhone to my laptop
  3. Disabled iTunes and related daemons & services.
  4. Uninstalled Apple update program/li>
  5. Ran ZiPhoneGUI.exe software and clicked on "Do it all" button
    (This would jailbreak, activate and unlock iPhone. It will also downgrade the bootloader if it's v4.6.)
  6. Scrolling Text appeared on the iPhone and after 10 minutes, the system hung!
    Last known system response was "Loading zibri.dat."
    1. Clicked on "Stop Process" and then clicked on" Do it all" button. Still nothing happened
    2. Disconnected the iPhone from the laptop and still it wouldn't shutdown.
    3. I rebooted my system still nothing happenned.
    4. Read the Trouble Shooting document and PANICKED even more.
  8. Venky, my friendly neighbourhood AJAX expert offered to help and connected the iPhone to a Mac. Nothing happenned.
  9. Then we figured how to restart the iPhone by holding the "Home" button and "Sleep" button together for 7 seconds!
  10. iPhone got rebooted. All systems functioned normally!
  11. Removed the SIM card holder using a paper clip and inserted my "Airtel" Sim card. And lo!, ZiPhone really unlocked my iPhone! :)


iPhone Unlock Demo on YouTube ZiPhone 2.5


ZiPhone GUI


Some initial observations

  1. Very impressed with the iPhone's package design.
  2. Displaying progress indicator on Safari's address bar is a cool idea.
  3. Thanks to the Accelerometer, browsing websites, reading blogs, viewing photos, YouTube videos, maps on a mobile never felt so good!
  4. Kept looking for a "close icon" for all the apps. Took a while to get used to the "Home" button
  5. It was a smooth experience flipping through photos, zooming into a blog et all
  6. On-screen keypad was initially a lil' difficult to use. Ended-up pressing the wrong keys
  • To be continued...
  • Bangalore UX Community Meet

    Last evening, about 45 participants had a good time attending an exciting interactive session on “Creativity and design thinking for achieving breakthrough innovations” by Murli Nagasundaram

    Murli used Porsche and i-Pod examples to illustrate how user experiences are conceived in a wholistic manner to appeal to user’s multiple senses and address user’s multiple needs. He also explained the importance of delaying evaluation/judgment of ideas during the early/ideation stage to come up with break through innovation, instead of just incremental innovation.

    Later, participants were split into groups of 5 and were given an exercise to ideate and come up with multiple ways to solve a selected problem and then finally evaluate and present solutions.

    His session reminded me of a book i read a long time back called ” The Fourth Eye” written by Pradeep, an IIM prof. According to Pradeep, creative problem solving happens in a series of steps, (not necessarily in the same order given below)

    • Basic Ground work
    • Ideation
    • Incubation
    • Inspiration
    • Fine-Tuning and Implementation

    The design thinking process involves using a combination of logical and lateral thinking.

    The other interesting fact about the participants is that 80% of the participants never attended any of the previous upa, barcamp or dcamp meets, which is good news because one gets to interact and exchange ideas with new people. Also met up the usual suspects like Param, Rahul, Suresh JV, Shan et all.

    See More Photos >
    Join UPA Bangalore E-group

    Eye Wink Interfaces

    Thanks to “eye wink” interfaces, users can bat their eyelids to play their favorite song or even play video games. Users need not use their hands to perform tasks , the system can serve as “a third hand” for caregivers, rock-climbers, car/motorbike drivers and astronauts, as well as people with disabilities.

    When a user winks, movement in their skin is detected by sensors clipped to their glasses or headphones, said Kazuhiro Taniguchi of Osaka University’s Graduate School of Engineering Science, who developed the “KomeKami Switch” or “Temple Switch”.

    The Kome Kami Switch, comprises a single-chip computer and a couple of infrared sensors that monitor the temple movements; and is small enough to be built into the side of a pair of eyeglasses. It is capable of operating television sets, air conditioners, room lighting and other household electronics. More >

    Car stuff

    Parking : The other day, a friend of mine and me took about 25 mins to commute from Point A to Point B , we used his GPS gadget to find the location, the shortest route et all. We also spent additional 15 minutes looking for an empty parking lot.

    One of the key features that I’d like to see next gen GPS devices and map tools, would be to search and show ( in real time) available parking lots on need basis. Not sure what kinda logistics would have to go into play to enable this feature. This feature may not be a ‘must have’ requirement in cities such as Bangalore 🙂

    Rear View Cam : Given that web /digital cam prices are heading south, it will be useful and may not be expensive to install a camera near the boot (in indian cars) and display the camera view on a dashboard monitor, while backing up the car.

    The other key requirement is the Digital Fuel Level Indicator

    CLI > GUI > CLI on GUI!?!

    Update : Read Enso’s take on Why Quasi Modes are more user friendly than Modes

    And now CLI gets contextually integrated with GUI!

    Atleast, that’s what Jono DiCarlo from Humanized has demonstrated through Enzo.

    All you need to do is press “Caps Lock” key to invoke/trigger the Command Line Interface and start keying in your commands. The good news is that any no of new commands can be written.

    Some of the tasks based on commands are

  • Insert Map
  • Open in a Application
  • Calculate
  • Translate
  • Upper Case
  • See complete command list

    Since I am so used to using the ‘Caps Lock’ key to capitalize, I INITIALLY found it difficult be forced to use the “Shift” key.

    Keeping the ‘Caps Lock’ pressed all the time to type other commands is difficult and creates a state of tension.

    Think there is room to explore other design solutions to this problem. I am not sure if other keys are were usability tested and that they found this one “less difficult”

    A provision to assign short-cuts keys for the most frequently used commands can be considered.

    CLI on GUI