Concern for usability and ergonomics

Sean Moss-Pultz sean at
Mon Jun 11 19:00:42 CEST 2007

[I'm CC'ing the community list because there's lots of points here  
that go well beyond hardware.]

On Jun 11, 2007, at 6:36 AM, Miguel A. Torres wrote:

> Hi,
> Like many of you, I'm following the project with great enthusiasm.  
> This will surely demonstrate companies in the sector that open  
> source is not only a possibility, but probably the only real path  
> to follow in the long term.
> While the philosophy of the project is wonderful, the actual  
> product that will reach customers - the neo1973 - is less than  
> impressive. Not because of hardware specs, GTA-02 seems impressive  
> already by packing almost everything except for a camera (which I  
> personally believe should be included). My concern goes for the  
> most basic aspect of any consumer product: usability and ergonomics.
> I'm absolutely astonished on how this fundamental aspect has been  
> largely overlooked by everyone. For example, the phone main  
> interface is a touchscreen, yet the case of the phone wasn't  
> designed to hold a stylus. While I'm aware that at this stage the  
> phone is largely intended for development only, I think it is time  
> to re-consider this important aspect of the project.

I can assure you two things. 1) We cannot change this now with GTA02.  
2) We have more hardware in the works that will definitely address  
these concerns. We all share them.

> More concisely:
> * Integrated keyboard and directional pads are not mere luxuries,  
> but necessities. They allow for safe one hand operation while  
> reducing touchscreen stress. Touchscreens are fragile (get  
> scratched easily, develop calibration issues over time, etc) and  
> direct finger use requires constant cleaning.
> * To think globally. Asian languages use ideograms so it's  
> reasonable that asian users find limited use for an integrated  
> keyboard, but western users are the opposite. All administrative  
> and technical commands (say, C++ code, Internet URLs, etc.) are  
> written in latin characters and benefit greatly from easy typing.
> * It is possible to include all in the same package. Palm's Treo  
> line has been including full keyboard, directional pad and  
> touchscreen in a very compact package for years.
> * Over all, the philosophy should be to give the user options,  
> allowing freedom to choice.
> Treo is an excellent design in terms of usability. It's been  
> designed with real people in mind. For example, it provides  
> hardware volume buttons and a switch to turn the phone mute.

I totally agree with your points. Please keep in mind that this was  
our first design. And that we are using an ID design that simply  
wasn't made for what this project has become.  It was originally  
designed for a completely different usage scenario.

Believe me when I say that we are working on new stuff that will  
address these issues. I have been quiet for the past few months  
because of some major internal re-allocations and new events. Within  
about a month we should be more or less finished and emerge with far  
more focus and resources.

Until then, please accept my sincere apology for not being able to  
keep up with all your comments and questions. Internally all my time  
and energy is being used now.


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