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Mobile Community Design
Research and design information for mobile community developers.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

breakthrough ideas

I've just finished reading the book:
Squires, S. E., & Byrne, B. (2002). Creating breakthrough ideas : the collaboration of anthropologists and designers in the product development industry. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

It's a collection of discussions about how ethnography can be used practically in the business world. Several of the articles offer practical demonstrations of how ethnographic approaches resulted in startling results. There is a lot of discussion about the roles of researchers vs. designers and the various methods that they use. The question of how requirements/observations are translated into design ideas is not really addressed and several of those advocating design perspectives still don't appear to understand the importance of usability in resulting designs. Definitely worth a read if you want a non-theoretical take on ethnography. Particularly the chapter by Susan Squires describing observations of breakfast habits, and another by Charles Leinbach discussing RV tribes are fascinating.

ta to Jared for the reference

Monday, October 25, 2004

Alternate visualizations of groups

My jaw dropped when I had a glance at this. This company (PTGrey) is making some really creative imaging products. Some of them are specifically designed for watching group behavior.

Awesome video of 3D vision (link at bottom of page)
Imagine if humans had developed with this kind of visual system from the start! I'm not a big fan of military applications for this technology, but imagine a soldier who could see in all directions at the same time...

Also check this video of tracking group movement and visualizing traces left by people.

Ta to Jared for the link.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


5th International Workshop on Smart Appliances and Wearable Computing Columbus, Ohio, USA, June 10, 2005
Held in conjuction with IEEE 25th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS 2005).
We invite researchers, practitioners, educators, students, and others interested in smart appliances, devices and sensors to the 5th International Workshop on Smart Appliances and Wearable Computing (IWSAWC 2004). This workshop serves as a forum for the exchange of new findings in collaborative technologies for smart and wearable devices and smart appliances deployed in both lab and real world environments. It further offers an opportunity for in-depth exploration of selected topics and for the presentation of the most recent research and development findings in these rapidly changing fields.

Technical papers on smart appliances and collaborative technologies are solicited for oral presentation at IWSAWC 2005. Papers reporting new developments in computing with smart devices such as PDAs, wearable computers, and cellular phones, including but not limited to those listed below, are invited.- Enabling Technologies for Appliances in Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing
- Collaboration concepts and techniques for smart devices
- Infrastructure components for Ubiquitous Computing
- Home and Office Appliances
- Portable Devices and Smart Sensors
- Wireless-phone Computing
- Home Networks and Wearable Networks
- Networks for Ubiquitous Computing
- Security and Privacy Aspects for Ubiquitous Computing
- Wearable Computers and PDAs
- Software and Service Architectures for Home/Smart Appliances
- Location-dependent and context-aware Computing

Submission deadline: November 15, 2004
Notification of acceptance: January 15, 2005
Camera-ready papers: March 1, 2005

Contributed by Kristof

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Alternatives to keyboards for mobile devices

A very well designed demo of some medium-fidelity ui prototypes of gesture interfaces for mobile devices. Some of these are quite creative. There's a few usability problems such as two-handed input, the need for a steady hand and the lack of a "hold" button for when you get the right position. But these are all "solvable" problems. Nice to see people thinking outside the box and looking into the very significant problem of mobile input devices.

Sony Design - Experience Computing
Viable future alternatives to the keyboard interface.
Touch, Roll, Throw, Bend, Build

via Howard's blog at the Feature

Monday, October 18, 2004

Confirmation Report

I have recently completed my Confirmation of Candidature at the University of Queensland.

Extensions to User Centred Design (UCD) methods for mobile, group, communication technologies.

This thesis proposes to adapt and supplement existing User Centred Design (UCD) methods for developing mobile, group technologies. Research, analysis and documentation methods are needed to understand behaviour and needs of mobile groups, in order to guide product development. Groups are increasingly using devices primarily designed for one-to-one communication in communal ways and to coordinate multiple people. Group needs are different from individual needs and it will be necessary to have research methods applicable to mobile groups, to design devices to support them. Mobile groups pose a challenge for researchers for many reasons including frequent movement, diverse social settings and complex communication patterns. The main outcomes of this thesis will be research methods specifically designed to study mobile groups. Additional outcomes will be analysis techniques and representation methods developed as a consequence of using and refining them.

Jeff Axup
The Confirmation Report (28 pgs, 1.2M) is available in PDF

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Social networks and mobile devices

Mobile devices are starting to be used in conjunction with or as part of social networks. For this reason I'm beginning to do some research into how mobile social networks work and what they consist of to inform design.

J Donath and d boyd have written a longish and interesting piece about what social networking sites currently are and how they compare to real social networks.

Blog post
The article: Public displays of connection in pdf

The paper is more theoretical than ethnographic, but provides some thought-provoking discussion on what effect social networking sites are having. A limitation of these high-level observations of behavior, as well as the detailed observations of ethnography, are that they focus on the present. I've been thinking about how different research methods focus on different temporalities of usage and how people co-create new technologies. The problem with observing current behavior is that it is partially a response to existing technology. A difference between existing social networking site structure and physically-mediated (some would say "natural") social networks doesn't mean the service will fail. It is definitely worth examining current behavior in detail, but people will adapt their behavior to the new system and redirect it for their own purposes. These observation methods are inherently conservative because they always use "what we do now" as a basis to inform the design of future activity. This doesn't necessarily promote visionary thinking. I don't have an answer for this, although there are research methods which allow more of a glimpse into the future (see above links).

via Smart Mobs

Friday, October 15, 2004

HCII 2005

HCI International 2005, 22-27 July 2005, Las Vegas - Nevada USA

You are cordially invited to participate in HCI International 2005 and the affiliated conferences which are jointly held under one management and one registration. The conference objective is to provide an international forum for the dissemination and exchange of scientific information on theoretical, generic, and applied areas of HCI, usability, internationalization, virtual reality, universal access and cognitive ergonomics. This will be accomplished through the following six modes of communication: plenary presentation, parallel sessions, demonstration and poster sessions, tutorials, exhibitions and meetings of special interest groups.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Depicting Mobile Behavior

Here is the pre-print of my latest paper on methods of depicting mobile behavior during a navigation activity.


Axup, J., Bidwell, N. J., & Viller, S. (2004). Representation of self-reported information usage during mobile field studies: Pilots & Orienteers 2. Accepted, To be presented at OzCHI 2004: Supporting Community Interaction: Possibilities and Challenges, Wollongong Australia.

[Full-text pdf]

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

usability and ucd methods for mobile devices

A good overview coming out of IBM research of some usability issues of mobile devices in the context of User Centered Design (UCD).

Mobile computing platforms combining small, lightweight, low-power devices with wireless network connectivity enable the performance of familiar tasks in new environments and create opportunities for novel interactions. Since mobility imposes significant cognitive and ergonomic constraints affecting device and application usability, ease of use is central to devices in the fully mobile wirelessly connected (FMWC) world. In this paper, we consider mobility as an attribute both of the computer and the user. We explain the differences between transportable and fully mobile devices, and we contrast applications that are essentially FMWC applications, those that can be adapted to the FMWC context, and those that are unsuitable for it. We discuss the unique challenges to usability for mobile users and devices and their interaction, and we point out the increasingly critical role of usability in the mobile environment.

No wires attached: Usability challenges in the connected mobile world, 2003
L. Gorlenko, R. Merrick
[Full-text pdf]

via deyalexander