The Device Previously Known as the Cell Phone

Burbank, CA April 9, 2007: In the global cell phone industry, the term “cell phone” is rapidly becoming archaic as mobile device capabilities go well beyond voice and text messaging, to e-mail, cameras, web access and features of conventional computers. That is the on-going challenge — produce more in less. More options, more function, less size.

In a new documentary, “The Shape of Phones,” featured on The Futures Channel website, specialists at Motorola discuss what goes into some of the most innovative phones produced to date. A designer, engineer and human factors specialist each present their perspectives on design, creation, problem solving and consumer input on past, present and future generations of cell phones.

Since 1999, The Futures Channel has been providing educators with video programming that demonstrates real world applications of math and science, while acquainting students with interesting careers. The popular “micro-documentaries” introduce students to professionals who are passionate about what they do and who depend on math and science every day in their work.

For industrial designer Yoon Ho Choi, design isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life. “It’s really about tuning in and listening to all kinds of consumers,” Choi explains in the documentary. “Good industrial designers are good observers.”

For Sandy Guzman, it’s all about talking to consumers about ease of use and functionality in revolutionary products like Motorola’s MOTORAZR™ phone and the MOTOPEBL™. She is the Human Factors Specialist. “For me, it’s not so much about what it looks like as how easy is going to be to make a call,” she says.

Mike Spence heads the mechanical team that created the MOTORAZR™. His job is about melding of the two worlds, combining the industrial design with the human factor research. “Our job is to take the existing electronic componentry and mix it in with the look that the industrial designers want the phone to have,” Spence explains.

They all share a common challenge — size. In seventeen years, Motorola has gone from creating a product resembling a shoebox with an antenna to a slim, ultra-sleek phone nearly half an inch thick. As the shapes of phones continue to shrink, the public is demanding a growing list of functions, combined with more robust and user-friendly design. These elements present an extreme challenge. “To me, 1.2 millimeters is a huge number,” Choi explains. “The way we look at measurement is very different. We’re working with parts that are so small.”

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