Test your ability to multi-task

Is the human brain really capable of true multi-tasking, or do we just become more adept at switching our focus in ever shorter attention spans? This question is becoming increasingly important for user experience practitioners as they try to understand how services can be built across the growing range of digital devices with which we fill our lives.

MEX alumnus William Clement sent in a reference to a New York Times article on this subject, including several interesting tests you can perform to measure your own ability to multi-task.

The classic example is someone sitting on their sofa watching television, with a laptop open on their knees and a mobile phone or tablet in their hand. Currently most services for these 3 platforms are designed independently, but pioneering companies are already starting to explore how each screen can be combined into an overall user experience greater than the sum of its parts.

We’ve been looking at this topic for some years now at MEX, hosting several events to examine it in more detail and featuring it prominently in our December 2009 and May 2010 Manifestos.

The next MEX in London on 30 Nov – 01 Dec includes a specific Pathway dedicated to ‘Researching the implications of supporting more than one screen from a single device‘, questioning the role mobile devices will play in these multi-tasking user experiences.

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