Infocube Interview

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There are menus, there are 3d menus, and there are great big spinning cubes that scream 'usability' at you. Infocube is one of the latter, and Gordon Ross, the Founder of Infocube, is a tireless attendee at trade shows. And he's very English about it. Ewan caught up with him to ask him why the future of menus is cubed...

Gordon Ross, InfocubeYou can keep all your neon signs and dry ice pouring out from your million-dollar stand. Drive those articulated lorries with their multi-megawatt sound systems back your US Head Office. What we want at a Technology show is an Englishman who looks slightly off his rocker, wearing a comfy cardigan and offering you a nice hot cup of tea when you sit down at a solitary table beside his trailer. In short, you want to bump into Gordon Ross when youíre at 3GSM.

Gordon is the man behind Infocube, a concept so mind bogglingly simple, itís almost impossible to describe in text. So I asked Gordon to give it a go. "Infocube is a three dimensional mobile user interface for phones and mobile devices," he replies, rather proudly. "Itís probably just as easy for the All About Symbian readers to pop over to http://www.infocube.net/ and see for themselves." Thereís a [Flash powered] demo showing Infocube running on Series 60 and UIQ at http://www.mymobilecube.com/, with content such as ringtones and themes to illustrate the concept.

"The principal behind Infocube is that the interface is built around human perception. Weíve taken on board many studies on human psychology, studies watching the eye and brain co-ordination, and how peopleís perceptions change with what they are doing. When I started many years ago, you needed a £150,000 Silicon Graphics to do what we can do now on a £120 ARM powered device."

Now all this may sound like a load of marketing spiel, but once youíve actually tried out the spinning, rotating 2x2x2 Rubikís cube on your phone, youíll come to the conclusion that Infocube might actually have something here. "Most people at the show take around 30 seconds to understand how to use the system, itís got a really shallow learning curve." Given that Gordon has demoed the system to over 450 people, thatís quite an achievement.

Those of you with long memories may remember that Infocube first made an appearance at the Symbian Expo 2005. There, Gordon was chasing the Holy Grail of "the networks will buy it" approach, and Iíll be honest, I wasnít sure that this would be the best strategy. Now it turns out that, while others may have fell by the wayside, Infocube have made the cut, and continue to grow. "Thereís been an amazing response from the Network Operators." Gordon leans in just like youíd expect Carractacus Potts would do. "Theyíve realised that they need to give a good all-round experience to the user to be successful. Itís not good enough to have good phones and handsets on offer. If the content is difficult to use, then you might as well have no content."

"Nokia learned this years ago. Now they have good market share, and a lot of that is simply through having a simple and easy to use phone." Which is exactly what Infocube is offering. Theyíre not a company thatís already made it big. Not yet. But theyíre definitly one to watch.