Design for families or homes
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Design for families (or homes). Rikard Harr. Outline. What make homes interesting for HCI What make homes difficult to study? 3 ways of studying domestic use of IT Participatory design and the papers Between the dazzle LINC, Inkable Digital Family Calendar

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Design for families (or homes)

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Design for families or homes

Design for families (or homes)




  • What make homes interesting for HCI

  • What make homes difficult to study?

    • 3 ways of studying domestic use of IT

  • Participatory design and the papers

    • Between the dazzle

    • LINC, Inkable Digital Family Calendar

  • Concluding remarks/Student comments

What make homes interesting for hci

What make homes interesting for HCI

four different industries which are now viewing the home as the next site for technological development: telecommunications industry, information industry, computer industry and entertainment - many of these working in close collaboration. (Venkatesh 1995)

  • The home is becoming increasingly computerized

    • E.g. Cell Phones, PCs, wireless networks, Smart TVs, Media Centers, interconnected platforms, devices and services

  • A large part of all computer use takes place in homes

  • Different reasons for technology use than at work

  • More diverse user groups

  • Users expect true ubiquity

  • New challenge for researchers

And what makes it difficult to study

And what makes it difficult to study

  • A challenge just to get access

    • Even the briefest ethnographic study of organisational life - perhaps best characterised by Hughes et al.’s quick and dirty ethnography [13] - tends to involve several days of continuous fieldworker presence within the workplace, a degree of intrusion likely to be considered at best undesirable and at worst wholly unacceptable if replicated within a domestic environment. (O’Brian and Rodden 1997, p. 252)

  • Sensitivity for intrusion

    • Importance of privacy

  • Three approaches

    • Ethnographic studies

    • Lab houses

    • Participatory approaches

1 ethnographic studies in homes

1. Ethnographic studies in homes

  • Relatively few examples

  • Lull (1991), research assistants lodged in the host households

  • O’Brian and Rodden (1997) focus on interactive system designs for domestic environments

  • Rouncefield et al. (2000) wanted to create general design principles and writes:

    • The explicit aim of the studies was to develop an understanding of the detailed everyday activities in the home with the emphasis placed upon the provision of a 'thick description' of daily life within the home

  • Often light versions of ethnography (e.g. O’Brian and Rodden 1997)

    • Our intention in the studies undertaken for this project was, of course, to remain as faithful as possible to the fundamental principles of ethnographic research… (p. 252)

    • A fieldworker conducted series of three evening visits a week to ten families

1 ethnographic studies in homes1

1. Ethnographic studies in homes

  • Blythe and Monk (2002) studied domestic technology

  • Focus on gender division of domestic labor and gendered product design

  • Studied three households

  • In-depth interviews with seven family members

  • Used the Technology Biography for generating critical and creative responses to questions of home technology development

  • TB included:

    • a technology tour of participants homes

    • last times questions about participants latest technology usage

    • a personal history interview of participants technologies and routines

    • a guided speculation on possible future technologies, and

    • three wishes for products that participants would like to see.

2 lab houses awarehome gatech edu

2. Lab houses (

  • The Aware Home Research Initiative (AHRI)

  • Focus on:

    • Health and Well-being

    • Digital Media and Entertainment

    • Sustainability

  • Ambition: investigating how new technologies can impact the lives of people at home

  • Two identical floors, featuring: a kitchen, dining room, living room, 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, and a laundry room

Lab houses continued

Lab houses, continued

  • The lab house serves the needs of the researchers in many ways, such as:

    • for research projects where elements of the home are not easily recreated in the lab

    • as a place for testing out installation of research projects in a home setting prior to deploying to research participant homes

    • as a controlled home environment for studies, where technology is not yet ready for installation in participants homes and a home environment would make the difference.

    • to educate students and provide an interesting environment for their class project ideas

    • as a single location to share our multi-disciplinary research with others

    • as an informal location for gathering with a group.

3 participatory approaches

3. Participatory approaches

  • Involves the user in the process, outside their homes

  • PD includes all stakeholders in the design process

  • Captures the cultural, emotional, spiritual and practical needs of users

  • Interaction techniques developed through user-participation enable household members – rather than designers – to configure and reconfigure interactive devices and services to meet local needs (Rodden et al. 2004, p. 71)

  • Origin in Scandinavia (1970)

  • Political dimension, user empowerment and democratisation

  • Degree of participation varies, the US and European school

The two papers

The two papers

  • Between the dazzle… (Rodden et al. 2004)

    • Want to helpusers to manage the introduction and arrangement of new interactive services and devices in the home

  • LINC-ing the Family… (Neustaedter and Brush, 2006)

    • Want to helpfamilies in coordinatingeveryday life

    • Focus on technological support for familycoordination

  • Both are influenced by participatory design

  • Bothtargets the domesticuse of IT

The procedure between the dazzle

The procedure: Between the Dazzle

  • Consulting previous ethnographic studies

  • People continuously exploit and reconfigure Space-plan and Stuff

  • Ecological character of domestic technology use

  • Placement, technology is situated at functional sites

  • Assembly, technologies are interlinked

The procedure between the dazzle1

The procedure: Between the Dazzle

  • The Component model:

  • A physical jigsaw editor

  • Devices can be combined in different ways by users

  • Familiar, easy, not loaded with existing interpretations

  • Construction of arrangements

  • Hard to design upon

The procedure between the dazzle2

The procedure: Between the Dazzle

  • Aims: evaluate the jigsaw-approach, capturewhatdevicesmightfitintohomes and how

    • 6 Paper-basedmock-upevaluations with 8 participants

    • Severaljigsawpiecesmadeavailable and combined

    • Video recording and analysis

  • Reflections

  • Userstake an active part in the design

    • Userswant to interleaveold and new technology

    • Homes are interleaved with outeractivities

  • The importance of usinglow-fidelityprototypes

  • The benefits of groundingcurrent research in previous

Linc inkable digital family calendar

LINC, Inkable Digital Family Calendar

  • Focus on familycoordination

  • Develop the LINC calender

  • Background:

    • Family life involves myriads of activities

    • Activitiesextendsbeyond the home

    • Activities must be coordinated, or else…

  • Shortcomings of existingcalendars:

    • Paper calendarsaren’tavailableoutside of home and are not easilysynchronized

    • Existing digital calendersexcludesfamilycoordination



  • Design a calender that match existingdomesticroutines

  • Unite the flexibility of papercalenders with the ability to make it digital in a later step

Development of linc

Development of LINC

  • Outline design principlesbased on previous work, a familycalender:

    • Should be designed as a simple awarenessappliance

    • Must be flexible in order to support a variety of domesticroutines

    • Should provide tools for coordination

    • Should support contextuallocations

Participatory design process

Participatory design process

  • Selection of respondents

    • Searched for a diverse group

    • Age 31-45 (11), 46-60 (9) etc.

    • No secondaryuserswereinvolved

  • Low-fidelityprototyping design sessions

    • Interviews on currentcalenderuse with 10 users

    • Performing a series of coordination and awareness tasks

    • A researcher acted as computer

    • Video recording and notetaking

    • Concluded by discussion and recommendedchanges

    • Refining the design

  • Medium-fidelityprototyping design sessions

    • Same procedure as above, but different prototype

Key findings of current use

Key findings of current use

  • Variouscalendertypeswereused, often in combination

  • Calenders are placed in high trafficlocations

  • Calendersonlyleavetheirlocation in case of substantialplanning

  • People check theircalendersonce or twice a day

  • Participantswere possessive of ”their” calenders

  • What is scheduleddiffer, recurrent posts, start and endtimes, location, names or initials, colouruse

  • Events sometimes come in throughemail, requiring ”copy and paste”

  • Separate sheets of paper, stickynotes

Paper prototype

Paper prototype

Digital prototype

Digital prototype

Concluding remarks

Concluding remarks

  • It is important to studydomesticuse of IT

    • Increasinglyimportant

  • It is howeverdifficult

    • People might not wantusthere

  • Three approaches for studying IT at home

    • Ethnography

    • Labhouses

    • Participatoryapproaches

  • The papers and participatory design

  • Questions? Comments?

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