The Null Device

How not to design a mobile phone

An article on the perils of bad design; in particular, how the low battery alarm on a Motorola futurephone can become an inhumane torture device:
Right now, however, at 2am, I've discovered that the usability engineers at Motorola designed this feature not as an alert, but as a behavior-modification tool. Make the punishment for forgetting to plug in the phone painful enough, and I won't do it again.
If I could just get up and turn it off I could do so half asleep and drift back into my dreams. And I wouldn't be writing this column. But the Motorola alarm only rings once every 4 minutes, and I have no idea where the phone is hiding.

(via Techdirt and/or bOING bOING)

There are 6 comments on "How not to design a mobile phone":

Posted by: lisa http:// Fri Sep 19 11:46:21 2003

being 24/7 on-call for 3 years straight has me wired to be Awake and Alert and Responding whenever i hear a cell-phone beep. my ex could sleep through his phone ringing or even the low-battery alarm. but no. i'd hear his phone dying on the OTHER SIDE OF THE HOUSE and have to find it and kill it proper before being able to sleep again. he would only stir because i would berate him for leaving his phone on and unplugged.

i can hear a phone ring in the midst of bleepy music played on a loud car stereo system. i can tell if it's vibrating in my purse. and if someone calls at 2am, i'm immediately awake and answering the phone.

goddamn cell-phones and what they've done to my quality of sleep.

(note: this crazy cell-phone detecting ability is nullified by polyphonic sound. it just doesn't register as a "ring" to me...)

Posted by: evilpaul http:// Fri Sep 19 13:13:24 2003

I recall being wrenched out of my bed by the sound of my Dad's mobile low battery warning. (this was about 9 years ago) I staggered through the house still half asleep, each bleep triggering a primal response of shocking, electric fear. I knew I had to hunt down this demonic brain stabbing mind control machine, but where was it? By the time I found it, I was a bit more awake and rational, which was probably a good thing for the phones' sake. I will never forget the incredibly intense feeling the noise gave me in that half-awake state. It's like it was prodding my limbic system directly.

Posted by: kstop Fri Sep 19 16:24:33 2003

I have a motorola phone. Its low-battery alarn wouldn't stand a chance of waking me, and certainly not from a different room altogether. Maybe what he should be angry about is his becoming technology's bitch.

Posted by: mark http://donotuselifts.net/ Sat Sep 20 09:42:17 2003

As far as "becoming one's technology's bitch" goes, I'd gladly put up with the humiliation and kinky sex and what-have-you involved in becoming my alarm clock's bitch if I could just *wake up on time*...

Posted by: kstop http:// Mon Sep 22 09:39:21 2003

The concept of "on time" is just part of being technology's bitch.

Posted by: Graham http://grudnuk.com/ Mon Sep 22 15:08:00 2003

destroy all clocks, watches, timepieces and chronometers! they are EEEEEVIL!

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