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Response to [Charting Past, Present, …] by Abowd & Mynatt

One Sentence

This paper summarizes three research themes of Ubicomp in its first ten years, points out some existing challenges and outlines future research agendas.

More Sentences

This paper summarizes three research themes of Ubicomp – natural interfaces, context-aware applications, and automated capture and access – where it further points out challenges found in each theme. For future research, the paper posits a new area ‘everyday computing’ which focuses on scaling up interaction with respect to time. At the end, it also summarize two important issues among all the above-mentioned themes – social implications of ubicomp and evaluating ubicomp research.

Key Points

  • Many applications have leveraged simple context, primarily location and identify, …
  • The objective of this application-centered research (in ubicomp) is to understand how everyday tasks can be better supported, and how they are altered by the introduction of ubiquitous technologies.
  • … the (Augmented Reality) system is modifying how a user perceives the physical world.
  • Our motivations for everyday computing stem from wanting to support the informal and unstructured activities typical of much of our everyday lives. These activities are continuous in time, a constant ebb and flow of action that has no clear starting or ending point.
  • (Features of everyday computing:)
    • They rarely have a clear beginning or end;
    • Interruption is expected;
    • Multiple activities operate concurrently;
    • Time is an important discriminator;
    • Associative models of information are needed.
  • (Context fusion: ) … assemble context information from a combination of related context services.
  • (Research directions of everyday computing)
    • Design a continuously present computer interface;
    • Presenting information at different levels of the periphery of human attention;
    • Connecting events in the physical and virtual worlds;
    • Modifying traditional HCI methods to support designing for informal, peripheral, and opportunistic behavior.
  • A basic tenet in HCI is designing for closure.
  • The first major difficulty in evaluating a ubicomp system is simply having a reliable system to evaluate;
  • The best situation is to build the compelling story around activities that you are exposed to on a continuous basis;
  • It is important to understand how a new system is used by its intended population before performing more quantitative studies on its impact;


  • Using the 5W to understand ‘context’:
    • Who & Where seems straightforward;
    • When seems interesting, e.g., the time point may serve as a variable, the time history might as well;
    • What and Why seem highly reliant on the other W’s.
  • Scaling ubicomp research along five dimensions:
    • computational device (done in PARC);
    • physical space (done?)
    • people (different types of users?)
    • time (everyday computing)
  • Tip: before reviewing related work, state up-front what is NOT included and why.
  • Literature about incorporating time into human-computer interfacfes:
    • Edwards and Mynatt 1997;
    • Fertig et al. 1996;
    • Rekimoto 1999.
  • ubinfovis: information visualization as the output/feedback of ubiquitous computing…

About Xiang 'Anthony' Chen

Making an Impact in Your Life


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