Omega Mobile: Mobile Experience Design Blog
We’re Passionate about Mobile User Interfaces, Experiences, Interactivity, and more!

Archive for January, 2010

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InteractiveTV Today announced that Immersive Media is making available 360-degree, interactive, online video footage of Haiti to agencies, government departments and news organizations involved in the relief efforts, free of charge.

Immersive 360 Video

Welcome to the next generation of street viewing. I’m sure the live video is amazingly helpful in the Haiti situation but I can’t help thinking about how much it opens up mobile design possibilities.

Real estate, the arts and education are just a few of the industries that will be enhanced by 360-degree video. Save time, save money and avoid hassle – I can’t see a downside and I can’t wait to see what is next for live video.

I’m fascinated with the way many emerging technologies are so compatible. Combine Augmented Reality and live 360 video for amazing immersive mobile user interfaces.

Consumers will love it but advertisers are going to flip over the insane amount of organic advertising and promotion possibilities that will open up. See my post about Google Street View, specifically how targeted ads can be displayed to consumers at almost the exact moment of purchase and offer discounts, special offers and additional information. Extreme interactivity will be the key to opening up and unlocking even more creative mobile design possibilities.

When designing mobile user interfaces, we always face the design challenge of pixel density on a mobile device. What you see on a computer screen is usually larger than what you will see on a mobile device and sometimes we don’t have access to the target device we are designing for.

Mobile UI Design Tip Pixel Density

There are a few ways to address this and make sure that a mobile user interface design is appropriate when smaller. One solution is simply shrink it down to the exact size of the mobile device we are targeting. This is fine to determine if the general layout works. However, it doesn’t work well with fonts as the text can get distorted and then you can’t determine whether you’ve chosen a good font size.

Many graphics applications (Photoshop, Flash and Illustrator to name a few) allow simultaneous views of the same visual document. This is an extremely helpful tool when designing mobile user interfaces.

In the above screenshot, two views of the same document are shown. The one on the left is at 100% and the one on the right has been reduced to match the exact size of the mobile device screen we’re targeting for this user interface. We can make any changes to the image on the left and manipulate the view in any way we want while keeping the right view open to see how our user interface will look on our target mobile device. To do this in Photoshop, with a document open, select WINDOW>ARRANGE>NEW WINDOW FOR…

Another way we use dual screenshots is to make sure the user interface controls for a touch screen UI are spaced correctly. We simply touch the design that has been sized on the monitor to match the mobile device to determine if the user interface elements are far enough apart.

The Mac has a tool we like called Screen Shrink that allows us to literally shrink a screen so we can see what part of it may look like on a mobile device. This also works well when you see an inspiring design on the web and wonder if it could work well at a smaller size.

Fierce Mobile Content reported that Amazon will be inviting software developers to build “active content” for the Kindle Store later this year. Although the “a” word wasn’t mentioned, it’s clear that Amazon is getting into the app game for their eReader.Kindle Mobile Media Consumption

It’s a great idea to leverage a developer community. An Advertising Age article has a good analysis on Kindle moving into apps. Some opinions seem short sighted though. For example, while people complain about the greyscale experience, it’s likely that Kindle will get a color display.

A separate Fierce Mobile article reports that Kindle services will represent 10 percent of’s total North American sales in five years. In addition to books, Amazon sells VHS, DVD, CDs, MP3s, computer software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys and so on and so on. What if a future version of Kindle supported all of these products? Talk about a ridiculous about of synergy.

With a Kindle and’s product lines, the possibilities are endless. What if you were reading on a Kindle and the main character is enjoying a tasty pizza? Suddenly, you’re presented an ad to order pizza. And if that had had a coupon? Even better. See my post about advertising on the Kindle.

Another possibility for eReader enhancement brings to mind Mad Libs – fill in the blank and create a story. The Ad Age post quotes Richard Schatzberger, director of creative technology at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York. He talks of “living books” where an author could program a story to tailor itself to the reader — a book that reflects the current weather, or is set in a reader’s city.

It will be interesting to see if apps catch fire for the Kindle or future versions of eReaders. But one thing is sure – combine classic “book” consumption with technology and get ready for spirited debates.

A recent study sited on revealed that more than half of consumers in 11 countries used their mobile phones while shopping in a store. Uses included comparison shopping, getting peer feedback, looking up product information and finding coupons.

Mobile Shopping

I recently did exactly that. I was browsing a bookstore and picked up an interesting title. After looking up a great review on Amazon, I made the in-store purchase. Then I added other books to my Amazon cart to look up later.

This should bring a sigh of relief to traditional retailers as well as a call to action. Retailers need to explore how the physical in-store experience can be complemented and enhanced by mobile.

One great way to blend shopping and mobile is with visual searching. The Nokia Point & Find is a good example of how this could work. Forget about waiting around for a sales clerk. And what are the chances that a retail employee is knowledgeable about every single item in a store? It would be great to just snap a picture of an item or hold your device up to it and get instant information.

Large retailers could really benefit if they had their own app. For example, if you were at Best Buy, the app would provide information on the in-store product as well as suggesting additional purchases (a power cord, batteries, etc.), giving details of the warrantee program or outlining a special credit card offer.

The opportunity to access exclusive offers, coupons and discounts in-store with a mobile device would be great. Also, retailers should make spreading the word to your social network or an individual contact as easy as possible.

The next time you head out to shop, remember that your mobile is a great companion.

Just when you thought Google Street View couldn’t get more personal (Remember the UK controversy when Google captured images of men barfing on a sidewalk, emerging from a porn shop and getting arrested?) Fast Company reports that the search giant wants to populate billboards and ad-spaces in Street View with real-time ads.

Street View Virtual Ads

For example, instead of showing a months-old photo of an advertisement for an out-of-date movie, the studio could pay Google to constantly update the virtual billboard with an image of their latest release. Cool, huh? 

Google describes Street View as “the last zoom layer on the map - when you’ve zoomed all the way in you find yourself virtually standing on the street. But the most exciting thing about Street View is all the amazing uses that our users and partners find for it.” Could real time advertising make the feature even more useful? I think so. 

Of course all virtual billboards would link for more information opening up a host of possibilities. The link could lead to highly targeted advertisement based on user profiles. A mom would see a mini van billboard, a mid-life crisis aged male would see a sports car promo. A “mood-based” feature would also be a possibility. Users could select what type of trip they are taking. A business trip would show coffee shops, an entertainment adventure could show mini golf or movie theaters. Key in “hungry” and restaurant advertisements appear. 

Last minute discounts would be another great feature. Perhaps you’re driving by a sold-out theater – an open discounted seat offer could pop up. Additionally, consumers love feedback. Augmented Reality could be used to link reviews and merchants to an ad. 

One industry concern is the issue of who actually owns virtual space in a media buy. If one company consistently buys the same billboard on a busy street, could their competitor acquire the virtual space and overlay in the street view? It will be interesting to watch this play out.