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UbiComp Applications: Should we Look for Problems or Opportunities? William Newman Consultant Visiting Professor, UCL Interaction Centre.

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Presentation on theme: "UbiComp Applications: Should we Look for Problems or Opportunities? William Newman Consultant Visiting Professor, UCL Interaction Centre."— Presentation transcript:

1 UbiComp Applications: Should we Look for Problems or Opportunities? William Newman Consultant Visiting Professor, UCL Interaction Centre

2 Circumstances surrounding my Departure from Ubiquitous Computing Active badges Pepys The AIR Project Document sensing Digital Desk, PageCam Alternatives to radicalism Diary for Tuesday, October 30, 1990 14:14In office [50 mins] 15:04In and out of event in Nathan’s office; with W. Nathan, R. Hatton [45 mins] 15:50In office [10 mins] 16:00In Conference Room [4 mins] 16:05Attended part of event in Commons; with B. Andrews, M. Morton, R. Hatton [7 mins] 16:13Mostly in office [44 mins] 16:57Attended event in Wright’s office; with P. Wright [7 mins] 17:04Looked in on event in Morton’s office; with I. David, M. Morton [1 min] 17:05Mostly in office [2h 3m] 17:05In office [5 mins] 17:11In event in office; with P. Wright, I. David [1h 2m] 18:13In office [36 mins] 18:49In 2nd floor rear area [2 mins] 18:51Last seen

3 What Engineering History Tells Us Technology’s role: human enhancement ( cf. Rogers ) Innovation’s role: aiding both radical and normal progression ( cf. Kuhn ). Our role as technology researchers: Understanding requirements and how to meet them ( cf. Vincenti ).

4 Opportunities and Problems for Technology Opportunities: Created by technology: eg Pepys, Digital Desk Sponsored (maybe) by marketing. Maintained through more of the same. Problems: Generated by society and environment: e.g., care for the aged. Often slow to arise and difficult to solve. Solutions may or may not lie with technology. Markets constantly demand incremental advances.

5 for humans eg dementia carer’s sleep time for technology eg photos in Pepys diaries; we may never know if we’ve achieved real human enhancement… until it’s too late. As researchers, we can choose between problem- and opportunity-driven UbiComp research But we can’t ignore the enhancement and requirements roles. Problems point us at performance require- ments Opportunities point us towards functional require- ments Why Focus on Problems?

6 UbiComp Problem Discovery Looking for persistent, severe problems in the human domain, that UbiComp could solve, incrementally. How can we find them efficiently? How can we judge their severity? How could we measure progress towards solving them? How many of them can we find?

7 The Busy Days Diary Studies Data collected from 70 people during a 2- year programme, one or two days each. Involving collecting plans, diaries and end- of-day debriefings each day. Participants included social workers, CHI attendees, academics, PhD students, store managers, consultants, politicians, scientists, mothers of young babies…

8 Excerpts fro Busy Days diaries actdescription startstop 3 Arrived clinical school. 8:008:05 4 Go to library - check email. Forgot to drop off letters, had them in my bag, but didn't remember! Never dropped them off. 8:058:10 5 Bathroom 8:108:15 6 Go to locker, deposit coat. Realise I have forgotten purse and have no money to buy coffee/ breakfast. 8:158:20 7 Presented proposal, letter and documents to boss. 9:459:50 8 Reprint on headed paper on different printer. Printer broken. Boss insisted it be printed on a particular letterhead. 9:5010:05 9 Got new printer installed. Dan’s shared printer. Total of 45m spent writing and faxing, but didn’t send the fax because artist arrived early, see next. 10:0510:15 10 Call from RA (artist) announcing visit in 5 minutes. Was expected p.m. but came early – “Happened to be in the area.” 10:1510:20 Student doctor Junior engineer

9 What Persistent, Severe Problems have Emerged? 1.Over-runs when writing to completion 2.Coordination and lack of awareness: 19 during 58 days, average ~30 mins lost from each. 3.(Significant memory lapses were rare) 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 0100200300400 actual time (mins) estimated time (mins) in progress completed

10 Measuring Progress in solving Persistent, Severe Problems We can identify progress metrics for some problems Caring for relatives suffering from dementia: Carer’s hours of sleep, or of own time. Over-runs when writing to completion: Amount of over-run. And make a guess for others. Getting it wrong is part of getting the problem solved!

11 Talking Points We live in a (largely) problem-free community Why not focus elsewhere, eg war zones, immigrants, refugee camps? Radical applications: the unavoidable curse of Moore’s Law; We should recognise and treat them as such We should reward incremental advances But application metrics are hard to identify We should share our knowledge of persistent, severe problems and their solutions CHI 2006’s Engineering Community program.

12 References Lamming M. G. and Newman W. M. (1992) “Activity-based Information Retrieval: Technology in Support of Personal Memory.” Personal Computers and Intelligent Systems: Information Processing 92. Amsterdam: North Holland pp. 68-81. Kuhn, T.S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1962 Newman W. M., Eldridge M. A. and Lamming M. G. (1991) “Pepys: Generating Autobiographies by Automatic Tracking.” Proc. Second European Conf. on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work – ECSCW ’91. Kluwer, pp. 175-188. Newman W. M. (2004) “Busy Days: Exposing Temporal Metrics, Problems and Elasticities through Diary Studies.” Presented at CHI 2004 Workshop on Temporal Issues in Work, Vienna, 26 April 2004. Rogers G. F. C. (1983) The Nature of Engineering: a Philosophy of Technology. London: Macmillan. Vincenti W. G. (1990) What Engineers Know and How They Know It: Analytical Studies from Aeronautical History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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