New research from Cass Business School has found that battery icons on mobile phones shape how people view time and space, and how battery conservation practices define user identities.
The study of London commuters found that respondents 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,” he said.
One of the study’s respondents described the experience of watching their battery icon throughout the day: “Full would be ‘Yeah, ok great’, good to go for the day’; 50 per cent I’d be a bit ‘Oh God, I had better stop it from updating itself all the time in the background’ … then it would be at 30 per cent and I would be like: ‘Now I’m not having fun anymore’,” the respondent said.