I remember, about 8 years ago, using my first hands-free (rare in those days) earpiece in my new Nokia Phone. I was on my way to a meeting in Manchester when a colleague, Chris, called me to check a few things on a project we were working on.
"Hello Chris. Where are you?" I said
"I'm just turning off the Champs Elysees on the way to a meeting I can see a cafe ahead .... can I stop and check a few things with you?"
"Okay, I am passing Waterstones bookshop and they have a coffeeshop so I'll go in there."
We carried on chatting and I arrived at the counter and asked "What are you drinking?" "Cappuccino," came the prompt reply. "I'll have the same... medium please." Double take from the barrista "Oh cappuccino, I mean" I responded and went to sit.
When the barrista delivered the coffee she looked at me quizzically and I said I was on the phone to my friend in a cafe in Paris and showed the earpiece. She smiled and I carried on with the Paris discussion.
I tell this as an insightful moment when I realised that roaming communication made "Where are you" a more useful opener than "How are you" of a fixed point receiver. Clues about where, and what you are up to are useful too.. (see example of 'Noises Off' here ).
I have been observing the technologies develop that enable mobile phone design evolution, the support infrastructures, camera image quality, application software, etc. that could enable a system to evolve, and it looks like it is almost here... not from the telecomms giants but from the computing industry.. Apple's iPhone, which is almost good enough, web browsing on said device and Jaiku (which is not yet on the device). So we almost have a product that delivers the right affordance for the consumer experience but not quite.. the experience is right for making a call, browsing the web and tantalisingly close for a collsborstive experience that I look for in a task oriented scenario. The feedback such as 'I love my iPhone but....bah no Jaiku!' from Tim O'Reilly could make sure the next iteration of iPhone moves in the 'right' direction. See also the diagram in the blog 'Technology trails to discover'
The intriguing thing here is how we make sure that the insight and ideas for a possible solution are acted on and not rejected. There are work arounds as the comments to Tim O'Reilly's blog discusses but they show there is a consumer problem to be fixed which means there is an valid innovation opportunity which needs to be prototyped to enable the viability to be established. So MAKE philosophy is part of the iterative capital Michael Schrage describes that enables teams to deliver meaningful innovative "things"- products, services, experiences. that are both valid for the consumer and viable for the providing organisation.