Mobile Is in the Pocket of the Beholder

Nowadays, we like our devices to be mobile, ubiquitous, and on-the-body. Phones are used as proxies for location, platforms for a plethora of sensors, and information delivery vehicles, in addition to communication devices. Whole research communities are growing around the idea of wearable computing. It is clearly compelling to always have access to certain computing devices on the body.

My roommate used to carry this phone in his pocket in high school. Less than half of the phone fits in my pocket.

The current way that we keep something on the body is called pockets (unlike purses, you can’t set down a pocket — it’s always with you). And this brings me to the question of gendered clothing and a big disparity in term of what it means to be “pocket-sized.”

I’ll give a few examples. For a long time, mobile phones and PDAs were pocket-sized for men, but not women. See the picture to the left of me trying to carry a 1999 phone in my back pocket. Not very nice at all! Yet, my (male) roommate reported no trouble carrying it in the front pocket of his JNCOs.

You’d think that the problem has been somewhat resolved by now. Certainly, I can almost entirely fit my iPhone in my back pocket nowadays. But, the back pocket is not a convenient place to carry a rectangular device (especially, if you have some curves in that region). Thus, see below for what happens when I put the iPhone in my front pocket. Again, not very nice at all!

This is as far as an iPhone will fit into the front pocket of my jeans.

So, I’d like to put a challenge out there. If you design clothes, how about something more technology-friendly for women to wear? If you design technology, how about something that works with the clothes that women wear?

I would like a way of transporting my mobile devices that: [1] I cannot set down and lose, [2] that is easy to access in a public setting (so, no putting things in my bra if I need to look at them at any point during the day), and [3] that is comfortable in both standing and sitting positions.