Jonne Harju

Image Courtesy: MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

Jonne Harju is the man behind the N97mini. Aditya Singhvi’s phones was very fortunate to have been invited for an exclusive interaction with him when he was in Delhi during the launch of the Nokia N97mini (a device which we are reviewing on our sister blog, Symbian-Lifeblog) in India. While we got the entire Q&A round on audio and it can be downloaded from here. The main thing we got to learn was that Nokia Nseries is already experimenting with a number of technologies and materials for the next generation Nokia device.

The N97mini has been designed especially for the people who like to flaunt their device and also like to do more than just SMS and call. From my brief usage I can safely tell you that it is a step forward for Nokia with this device in terms of features, in terms of touchscreen and above all in terms of price. At the current price in India, one can safely state that this product has high chances of being an out and out sales driver for Nseries.

Now if we left it at this it would be unfair, because prior to this meet, we also were fortunate to be invited by Nokia India for a ‘bootcamp’ based on the theme of Digital Design. The Digital Design bootcamp was an extra ordinary one as we got to look at the designing of a phone from a completely different perspective. Hints of which are visible in the N97mini and the E72 also.  From homescreens, icon designing, UI development to gesture and sensor technologies, all of it was covered, it was perhaps for the first time that Nokia was letting us take a peek at what goes around making a device other than just hardware.

On the podium were four people who have really redefined the mobile phone experience for us when it comes to Nokia.

First up was Nikki Barton , Head of Digital Design who gave us a great overview of the design team and what they do.

Her brief talk centered around the present challenge in designing UIs that are able to seamlessly include a vast amount of information be it Facebook , Twitter , RSS  feeds and the list just goes on, while keeping the overall experience very easy to learn and master. She stated that her inspiration for the current generation devices are what people have dreamt of as future device many years back. The current design elements she is working on are inspired by what she imagines mobile technology will be 10-15 years from now.

After that it was Rob William (no, not the pop star) who has been responsible for the intriguing icons on Nokia devices. He gave a lot of insight on how icon designs are finalized. It is interesting to note that one doesn’t simply pick up an existing object and an convert it into an icon, since a lot of cultures and their interpretation of that symbol may be entirely different from what we perceive. Colours also play an important role. After realizing these finer nuances, it is indeed very tough a job to be an icon designer, in my opinion.

Julianna came next, she is instrumental in designing homescreens and is in charge of that area of development. Personalization is key to homescreen and you might find it funny that there is somebody there for that, but the fact is that if it were not for Julianna a lot of homescreen implementations that we have found extremely functional might not have been possible. The N97 homescreen and many more were all conceived by her team and she. Her talk involved a lovely hands on exercise. All the participants had been provided magnetic boards in the shape of the N97 and some magnetic stickers resembling icons and widgets and we had to create our own idea of a homescreen. The results that came through were even more interesting and allowed Julianna to get a deeper understanding of what people want and how they want to access things on their devices’ homescreen.

The last speaker was Younghee Jung. She works with probably one of the most interesting things in Nokia. Younghee is working on future UI concepts, emerging technologies, gestures and sensors. Some of the newer features that we see in our phones today (flipping phone to silence) were implemented by Younghee and her team.

She was kind enough to share with us some probable gestures they are looking incorporating into the next gen devices and what will they accomplish. Imagine, all the gestures are not simply implemented because they are simple and easy for a Nokia user to  do. The cultural aspect is also looked into before implementing gestures. Younghee also revealed that sensors in phones were capable of many things than just what they were meant for. For e.g, One could use the light sensor in many different ways than only for measuring the amount of backlighting a screen and keypad should have.

Meeting people who work on such aspects of a phone was truly a great experience and it allowed us to understand that a Nokia phones is more than just shape and size. We are indeed thankful to Nokia India for inviting us and giving us a chance to peek into the digital aspect of Nokia devices.

I hope that thishas allowed, the reader to have a sense of how much actually goes into making a device and it’s not always as simple as you and I think.

You can catch the entire Digital design bootcamp on video.

Nikki Barton:

Rob Williams:

Julianna Ferreiera:

Younghee Jung: