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Editor’s Note: Coming Soon to a Screen Near You

This issue’s theme focuses on usability and user-experience issues of interactive and mobile video, informing us about many new technology developments that make headlines in our daily news media. We all have our childhood experiences of viewing television and of using the phone. What happens when these two media are combined, and the experience becomes a mobile one? We’re talking about not only the sedentary experience of watching network television at home, or talking with someone from a desktop or tabletop phone on a shared line or private line in decades past, but also about a new world of communication and interaction that is rapidly unfolding before our eyes.

What will the forms and formats of new products and services be like? How can we contribute to the experience to ensure that the new media become and remain usable, useful, and appealing? This issue’s special theme sets the stage for us to answer those questions.

When I first encountered the results of a workshop that Anxo Roibás and David Geerts had formulated at CHI 2006, I felt the subject matter was compelling and relevant to UPA professionals, and would make a good basis for this special issue. All of us are consumers of, participants in, and analysts or critics of these systems that are developing worldwide. In North America, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, enormous sums of money and teams comprising thousands are hard at work developing what will be ubiquitous means of communication and interaction in the future.

As UPA professionals, we have much to contribute; but to be as effective as possible, we need to understand the framework of technologies and the fundamental platform issues that are a basis for our professional contributions. The special guest editors introduce that framework in their comments. As you will see, whether the directions are to usability studies, ethnographic analysis, task analyses, culture studies, or design studies, they are rich with potential.

The contributions make for good reading. We hope you enjoy this introduction to the global three-ring circus of state-of-the art development of the next generation of making, sharing, viewing, and interacting with video displays, whether at home, at work, or in transit between locations.