6 point fonts and digital divides ~ Abaster

03 April 2008

6 point fonts and digital divides

New digital divides are opening up driven by mobility, complexity and miniaturisation. The world is moving to an untethered networked world, in which our personal networks interface with a seamless networked environment so that we are always on, available and "here". But this (somewhat frightening) environment depends on greater processing complexity and miniaturisation, both of which work against the increasing percentage of the population that is aging and can no longer see 6-8 point fonts on their mobiles, or use buttons that were made for a child violinist's fingers.

This brave new untethered world will create all manner of new divides - not just in mobile communications. What are tech companies doing to address these issues? Not much. Slick, fashion driven, "6 month from cool to uncool" mobiles are the trend. Will all this networked mobility merely further socially marginalise those that cannot find the ON button on their phones because of its size (and location)? Much more needs to be done to engineer and design devices that are guided by inclusive (and sustainable) design principles - otherwise an increasingly important part of society will be continually disadvantaged and an increasingly important market opportunity will remain un-addressed.