NOKIA's Digidress

A 2002-2003 project at Nokia: Digidress by Per Persson, Younghee Jung, Jan Blom, Ionific. It's actually one of those matchmaking system that allows colocated people to be aware of relevant partners presence in the vicinity.

Mobile phones have traditionally been used to connect remote people. With Bluetooth, W-LAN and other short range radio technologies, mobile phones could also be used to connect proximite or co-located people. Mobile devices could exchange data with or without the users' immediate awareness. In an encounter between spatially proximate people, how can information in digital realm support and augment existing social behavior, practices and experiences taking place in real space?

DigiDress application allowed mobile users to create a page on their phone with text and imagery describing themselves, their interests, dreams, things they are proud of, favorite jokes or any other content. Pages were then viewable by other users within Bluetooth range (typically 10-20m), without the page owner's explicit consent. In this way, DigiDress users could take a 'peak view' at others without revealing their identity, similar to peaking at non-aqcuinated people in public spaces.

What is interesting is that they conducted user-testing:

DigiDress was provided to Nokia employees for user trial. The software was made available and users with compatible phones were invited to download and try it out. The DigiDress prototype was equipped with a logging functionality that enabled us to collect very detailed information about what features were used and how much. During the study we collected 46 DigiDresses which were later subjected to analysis. We also interviewed 10 of the most active DigiDress users.

During the trial period (89 days) 618 users installed DigiDress on their phones. The average use span was 25 days. The identity expressions created were both serious and playful, revealing and non-revealing. Factors influencing the identity expression included strategies for personal impression management, privacy concerns, and social feedback. The application was used with both acquainted and unacquainted people, and viewing the identity expression of people nearby was one major motivation for continued use. Direct communication features such as Bluetooth messages were not commonly adopted. In several instances, DigiDress acted as a facilitator for 'real' social interaction between previously unacquainted users. Privacy concerns and their alleviations, as well as use barriers, were identified.

Why do I blog this? even though I am not really convinced by this sort of application (due tu privacy concerns and the cost to enter the information to create the profile), I like the way this project reflects the design process; the architecture seems preytt light and the interface seems interesting.