NordiCHI 2012

NordiCHI is the bi-annual Nordic Conference Human-Computer Interaction. Though a country from Scandinavia traditionally hosts it, the conference attracts designers and researchers from all over the world. This year, 2012, it took place at the ITU University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

NordiCHI Venue | IT University of Copenhagen (picture courtesy of Heiko Müller)

My colleague Heiko and I found this year’s NordiCHI to be an excellent forum for exchanging ideas in a super-friendly environment. We received plenty of valuable feedback for our ongoing research on using ambient light to remind office worker about upcoming tasks. In addition, there were plenty of interesting talks in up to four parallel sessions.

Highlights

Edward Cutrell et al. investigated the question of “how bad is good enough?” with respect to the quality of mobile videos. This work addresses the problem of mobile video consumption in areas where data connection is highly expensive. They therefore explored, which level of quality is still acceptable for low-income mobile-phone users in urban India. The results provide evidence that these people will accept a significant loss of quality in order to save money.

Interesting insights were that in these areas of the world, people need to “count” their bytes, which is hardly supported by today’s phones and applications. Also, Ed Cutrell suggested that the acceptance of low-quality videos depends on the user expectance. This may be relevant in developed countries, too, e.g. when people try to go online in mass events.
Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, Jonathan Donner, Edward Cutrell : How Bad is Good Enough? Exploring Mobile Video Quality Trade-offs for Bandwidth-Constrained Consumers.

Charlotte Magnusson et al. presented Context Cards, a novel, light-weight way of raising developer’s awareness about different contexts in which mobile applications can be used. Each card shows a different setting, such as a young mother with a kid on one hand, the phone in the other, while pushing a baby buggy. They distributed the Context Cards at the Mobile World Congress, the “world’s premier mobile industry event” and received very positive feedback from attendees. Context Cards are free to use and can be accessed in printable form from here.
Charlotte Magnusson, Andreas Larsson, Anders Warell, Håkan Eftring, Per-Olof Hedvall : Bringing the mobile context into industrial design and development.

Thomas Visser, in his talk “I Heard You Were on Facebook” explored the creation of awareness systems, i.e. systems that provide a subtle sense of what is going on in one’s social network. They developed an awareness system that allows recording short sound bites from daily life and share them via Facebook. On the basis of a study with three groups of four persons each, they conclude that sharing sound bites increases the perceived social awareness of the group members.
Stefan Veen, Thomas Visser, and David V. Keyson : “I Heard You Were on Facebook” – Linking Awareness Systems to Online Social Networking.

Ole Sejer Iversen et al. presented insights from participatory design with mentally disabled users, which was done for a local art museum. They pointed out that we cannot just bring our set of values to the table but values emerge and require mediating in participatory design with diverse user groups.
Ole Sejer Iversen, Tuck W Leong – ‪Values-led Participatory Design – Mediating the Emergence of Values.

 

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Will they use it? Will it be useful? In-Situ Evaluation of a Tactile Car Finder.

When we develop new technology, we want to know if it will have the potential to be successful in the real world.

This is not trivial! People may sincerely enjoy our technology when we expose them to it in a lab- or a field study. They may perform better than with previous solutions at the tasks that we ask them to fulfill as part of the study.

However, once they leave our lab they never again encounter the need to use it in their daily routines. Or, the utility we prove in our studies may not be evident in the contexts where this technology is actually deployed.

In our work, we made use of Google Play to answer these questions in a novel way. We wanted to study if a haptic feedback can make people less distracted from the environment, when they use their phone for pedestrian navigation in daily life. We developed a car finder application for Android phones with a simple haptic interface: whenever the user points into the direction of the car, the phone vibrates.

The data provides evidence that about half of the users use the vibration feedback. When vibration feedback is enabled, users turn off the display and stow away the device more often. They also look less at the display. Hence, when using vibration feedback, users are less distracted.

Our work shows that app distribution channels, such as Google Play or the iOS Store, can serve as a cheap way of bringing a user study into the daily life of people instead of bringing people into the lab. Compared to the results of a lab study, these findings have high external validity, i.e. we can be sure that our findings can be generalized to a large number of users and usage situations.

This work will be presented at NordiCHI ’12: The 7th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, which takes place in Copenhagen in October 2012. The paper is available here (pdf).

Thanks to http://www.v3.co.uk/ for summarising this work so nicely in their article Buzzing app helps smartphone dudes locate their car.

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