The 4th generation of wireless will be defined by the expansion of the network to include a new group of participants. The debate around ‘4G’ has focused so far on transmission technology, but this will be an ongoing and gradual evolution. The most significant difference will be the ability to interact with the physical environment using the same network we rely on for peer-to-peer communications.

This poses a huge user experience challenge. How can a device be optimised for both human communications such as voice and interacting with inanimate objects such as payment terminals, home appliances and kiosks. How will the networks required to communicate efficiently with each of these be combined into a seamless experience for the user?

These questions are being considered by companies in a wide range of industries, not just mobile. Financial services companies in particular are looking closely at the technical process of enabling mobile payments, as well as the diverse cultural and trust issues around the emergence of the mobile handset as financial tool.

At the MEX conference on 31st May and 1st June 2006, we’ll be joined by Dave Wentker, Head of Innovation, at payments giant Visa International. He’ll be sharing his views on this topic in the panel discussion entitled: ‘Interacting with the real world‘.

Dave explained why he is participating at MEX: “We have long believed that mobile devices will play a central role in enabling personal financial services. Until recently, limitations in mobile technology have resulted in poor or unacceptable user experiences and lack of consumer interest. The networks and handset technologies are advancing to the point now where we can do some interesting and exciting things that go well beyond what can be achieved with payment cards. I am always looking for inspiration and innovation from throughout the mobile industry to help us bring the best possible mobile products to market.”

The session will be chaired by Walter Adamson, CEO of Digital Investor and Vice President of the i-Mode Content Forum (iCF). NTT DoCoMo, the operator which launched i-Mode, has been at the forefront of deploying mobile devices compatible with the Felica mobile payments system in Japan. It has also made investments in several Japanese financial services firms to expedite the rollout of compatible point of sales equipment and launch its own credit card offering.

The keynote comes from Fabio Sergio, formerly user experience manager for Hutchison 3G in Italy, and currently an Associate Professor of Interaction Design at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. He is also a visiting professor at the I-Design master course of Domus Academy and at Scuola Politecnica di Design, Italy’s oldest design school. Fabio prompted a lively debate on this topic with a presentation at the previous MEX conference entitled ‘Augmented reality check’ and returns to the event to deliver the keynote address in this theme area.

Also on the panel are:

Don Cameron, Director of Sales and Marketing at mobile ticketing specialist Mobiqa. Don is in charge of Mobiqa’s global sales and marketing strategies. He has over 25 years of experience in the mobile and IT world having previously worked for a number of blue chip companies including ICL/Fujitsu and Convergys at Director level.

Jacques LaPointe, Director, Product Management, Zi Corporation. He leads the charge for new product introduction, innovation as well as project management, usability and marketing. For over five years, he has mobilized and managed Zi’s international product management and user experience teams; market research, introduction of new products and led the overall management of product life cycles worldwide. Products under Jacques’ leadership include Zi’s Qix service discovery and navigation engine, Zi’s predictive text input systems, eZiText, eZiTap and eZiType and Zi’s Decuma handwriting product acquired in early 2005.

Per Ogren, Head of User Experience, TAT. Per currently heads up the design department at TAT, handling design philosophy, design processes and collaborative design between technicians and designers. He is also member of the company’s steering group. Before TAT he was working in the mobile industry since 2000 with usability and interaction design at Ericsson and later as Senior User Interface Designer at Creative Design Center at Sony Ericsson. His focus has been on enhancing the user experience in mobile phones and their surrounding software and services.

The debate will focus on several questions, including:

– Do person-to-machine (P2M) communications require a fundamentally different interface to person-to-person (P2P) applications?

– What are the biggest challenges for adoption: consumer trust, technology standards, cost of deployment?

– How much of the environment will contain embedded intelligence? Which devices will it be possible to track and interact with using mobile handsets?

– Is the mobile handset the obvious and only choice for interfacing with the digital environment?

I encourage you to join us for the discussion and invite you to register for the conference at

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