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Last Updated: Friday, 18 April, 2003, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Gadgets go back to basics
Digiflower
The Digiflower offers a relationship monitor
Manufacturers will be challenged to go back to basics at an international conference looking at the design of new technologies.

Researchers from around the world will gather in May for the three-day conference in Bristol, UK to look at and discuss ground-breaking gadgets for travel, entertainment and retailing.

As a backlash towards simplicity manifests itself throughout the electronics world, experts will call on designers to develop technology that works well in the real world.

"As new technologies penetrate our lives at an increasing rate, we no longer know what functionality to expect from our refrigerator, our television or our car," said Professor Peter Thomas, from University College London.

Budding relationships

Our search for a new usability will require an increasing range of tools, techniques and methods to help us face design challenges with a clear picture of the real wants and needs of the digital consumer
Professor Macredie, Brunel University

"Designing simple appliances that handle a few functions and so are simple to use, but network together to cover a range of activities will be key," he said.

Technology to be showcased at the conference include a Digiflower, developed by Samsung to predict when someone is coming home from the office, blooming when they are near and wilting when they leave.

Commuter, developed at Umea University in Sweden, is a package designed to make commuting easier by offering a travel pass that can automatically update itself.

RoomWizard, developed by the Appliance Studio Ltd, could prove useful for busy executives, offering a touch sensitive display outside offices to allow people to book meeting rooms simply.

Real needs

Professor Robert Macredie from Brunel University's Computing department is hopeful that the conference can set a precedent for technology people actually want to use.

"Our search for a new usability will require an increasing range of tools, techniques and methods to help us face design challenges with a clear picture of the real wants and needs of the digital consumer," he said.

"This should ensure that new generations of information devices will be able to benefit from knowledge developed in real situations, not just approved in laboratory conditions," he added.

The conference runs from 6 to 8 May at Hewlett Packard's research laboratories in Bristol.




SEE ALSO:
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