Batteries and Perceptions of Distance (09-12-19)

Researchers from the University of London have found that we may now be defining journey length not just in terms of miles/kilometers but also in terms of the battery life of our mobile phones.  Investigators, lead by Thomas Robinson, found during a study of London commuters that participants “viewed their daily trip in terms of the time and distance between charging points for mobile technology. ‘People no longer think about their destination being 10 km away or 10 stops on the tube. They think about it being 50 per cent of their battery away,’ said the study’s lead author, Dr. Thomas Robinson. During interviews respondents discussed how a full battery gauge made them feel positive and as though they could go anywhere or do anything. Anything less than half full, however, induced feelings of profound anxiety and discomfort,’ [Thomas Robinson] said. . . . . As mobile phones are now far more than just means of communication — they are maps, digital wallets, entertainment systems, diaries, banking, step and pulse counters etcetera — battery icons are at the heart of social and consumer tasks. Management of battery levels structures people’s daily activities.”

“Battery Icons Shape Perceptions of Time and Space and Define User Identities.”  2019.  Press release, University of London,