|Technologies for Families
Catherine Plaisant, Allison Druin
Can we develop technologies for families? We need to understand what brings families together (celebrations, meals, chores, playing, etc.) and develop innovative artifacts that support the needs of co-located and distributed intergenerational users. How can these technologies be embedded in our homes? Can they become a part of the very fabric of everyday family life.
This workshop will consist of short presentations
from the participants, demonstrations, and ample time for discussion and
MAY 31st 2001
10am-4pm (lunch is at 12:30)
10:00 - Welcome
Overview of the day, introduction of participants, logistics.
10:15 - Working with families: Design Process Challenges
Bringing users into the participatory design process is a challenge. When those uers are diverse family members, each with their own experiences, abilities, and needs-- the challenge becomes that much greater. In our past work with children, we found that it was important to adapt the participatory design methods that had been successfully used in the world of industry and research. Today, in the InterLiving research project we are continuing to adapt our methods to meet the needs of developing technologies for the home. In this workshop, I will discuss our progress to date with these methods, and suggest questions for possible directions for future researchers in this area.
10: 35 - Collections and Collecting in the Home
The People and Practices Research (PAPR) group at Intel studies real people in their natural work and home environments to uncover new uses for computing power, to identify important activities that are not well supported by technology, and to understand barriers to technology adoption. In the course of conducting these studies, we have visited dozens of homes in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, to talk with household members about their daily lives, their interests, opinions, and attitudes, and to document through photos and video their home environment and the place of computation and electronic media in it. Collections and collecting practices have emerged as a pervasive theme from these home visits. To uncover opportunities and inspirations for the design of new forms of home-appropriate computation, we have begun an analysis of our existing materials, from a number of studies, with collections and collecting in mind. This is very much work in progress; we look forward to starting a dialog about its implications for families and technology.
Home collections take on a bewildering variety of forms and meanings,
and behaviors around collecting are similarly diverse, including acquiring,
displaying, organizing, sharing, and using. In our analysis so far, we
have approached this topic from two directions. First, we’ve considered
different motivations underlying collections. These include bargain hunting,
set completing, hunger satiating, use fulfilling, and event commemorating,
to name a few. There are opportunities to better blend technology into
existing practices for each of these motivations. Secondly, we’ve looked
at a critical formal distinction, that between the virtual and physical
domain. As collections and collecting behavior become increasingly “digital”
in their materials and processes, there are great advantages (e.g., consider
how eBay has revolutionized the acquisition of collectables). But there
are also great potential disadvantages, often due to the primitive nature
of current tools and infrastructure for gaining access to the digital domain
from our everyday, situated experience. We have started building and experimenting
with some new kinds of tangible/digital or visible/digital materials for
collections, with the aim of making digital collecting more individually
and socially satisfying.
10:55 - Technologies for Families: What Do Families Want?
Before we design systems for the home, it is imperative that we understand what people want. People may use difficult technology if it addresses a significant need. However, benefits are better realized when technology fits into the behavioral and cultural environment of the home. Thus successful technology for the home must be built on an understanding of what goes on there, what the needs and desires of the families are and why they would resist new technologies.
We will present five categories of future technologies for the home. One of these, facilitated communication, will be examined in more depth. Our group, User Centered Research at Motorola Labs, is focused on understanding the human experience first, then exploring how technology could be used to address observed needs and desires. Currently, we are exploring the home environment for clues to how technology can benefit the family.
11:30 - InterLiving: Technologies to Facilitate Families' Communication, Collaboration and Creativity
(in 2 parts...)
Bridging design process and technological innovation with technology
also with : Allison Druin, Ben Bederson,
Today's families are more geographically distributed than ever. Children
attend schools far away from their parents; grandparents may live in a
different country than grandchildren. Letters, email, and phone conversations
can help keep remote family members up to date on major events, but the
patterns of everyday life are often missed. In an effort to fill this gap,
the InterLiving Project is attempting to develop technologies to improve
communication, collaboration, and creativity among distributed family members.
We will summurize what we learned from the family recruitment process in
Sweden and in France, and the interviews and cultural probes we used.
Finally we will introduce the technology probes to be used with the families.
12:00 : A Message Board for Families
One of these technologies prototypes developed in the context of the Interliving project (see above) is a "Family Message Board," an embedded digital writing surface and display where family members can post notes to each other, much like paper "Post-It" notes. Each remote family location has one of these message boards, and all are networked together so that all the messages posted show up on all the message boards in real time. Thus, remote family members can see messages that may be unrelated to them (e.g. "Pick up milk after soccer practice"), but give a sense of the more mundane things going on in people's lives. We will demonstrate a prototype of this technology in the workshop.
12:15 : discussion/wrapup of morning session
1:30 - Designing for Family Values
Although new home appliances and services are being designed for the
home market, there seems to be little understanding of how these technologies
interact with the larger organizational structure of the home, namely the
family. In our research, we are addressing this need in two ways. Our Digital
Family Portrait is designed with the needs of families in mind. In this
case, the family members are those who live outside the home of an elderly
relative. Concerned about their daily well-being, family members can stay
aware of an elderly relative by inspecting their Digital Family Portrait.
We are also designing Value Probes as a mechanism for unearthing values
that families would want reflected in future technologies. The probes both
help uncover that information as well as make that information usable for
1:50 - Communication for Mobile Families
If we want to increase family communication, is there anything better to do than just giving every family member a mobile phone? I am interested in new communication paradigms based in large part on wireless packet networks. We can define new call control protocols in which each party can influence how a call progresses, without making any telephone ring. We can transmit ambient audio or other information using low priority background channels to create an indication of awareness. We can add computation to analyze such a channel and generate alerts automatically.
But what I am interested in learning in this workshop is, how can we
predict whether such technological solutions have any chance of being adopted,
even if they came to market?
2:10 - PhotoMesa: Zoomable Photo Browser for a better Family
I will describe PhotoMesa, an application that supports browsing of
large sets of images. It is intended for use in a family setting with multiple
people looking at the screen together. It allows the user to view multiple
directories of images in a zoomable environment, and uses a set of simple
navigation mechanisms to move through the space of images. It also supports
clustering of images by metadata available from the file system. It requires
only a set of images on disk, and does not require the user to add any
metadata, or manipulate the images at all before browsing, thus making
it easy to get started with existing images. I designed PhotoMesa based
on my personal needs at home - I needed better tools to look at pictures
with my two-year-old daughter. I did not want to spend the time to make
custom "albums". In addition, I found using traditional software with a
grid of thumbnails, scrollbars, and popup viewer windows unpleasant in
this context. I wanted to concentrate on the images - and more importantly,
as I was looking at the photos with my daughter, it was crucial that she
be able to understand what was going on as I was controlling the mouse.
2:20 - Enabling Storytelling with Family Photos: The Evolution of
Photos from digital cameras, CDROMs, web-based distribution, scanning and email are quickly filling users' hard-drives, but finding the right photo of grandma is as difficult as it always has been. Our goal was to solve the Personal Photo Paradox: Personal photos are among the most treasured possessions people have, yet they spend little time organizing their photos and rarely view them. The paradox grows stronger with time since older photos are even more valued, but even less viewed.
Our strategy for solving the Personal Photo Paradox was to create easy
to use interfaces that support personal photo library organization with
drag-and-drop annotation. Then the potential of finding desired events
and people increases, leading to successful story-telling and reminiscing
with family and friends. We composed a user needs assessment and began
with two rapid prototypes during the fall of 1999. Our designs have evolved
as our usage led us to understand the necessary features for personal photo
libraries. Our June 2001 release of PhotoFinder 3.0 is available on our
2:30 - Personal Digital Historian: User Interface Design
Desktop computers are not designed for multi-person face-to-face conversation
in a social setting. We describe the design of a novel user interface for
multi-user interactive informal storytelling. Our design is guided by principles
of experience sharing, the disappearing computer, visual navigation,
and implicit query formulation.
2:50 - Small group discussion / Brainstorming
3:30 - Report from the groups, wrap-up, what's next?
4:15 - walk to reception at Rossborough Inn for reception
The workshop runs from 10am to 4pm, followed by a reception until 6pm
For directions/hotels etc. check the Symposium's MAP/DIRECTIONS
page. The workshop registration and meeting is in A.V. Williams (lower-right
corner of the map). This page also provides a list of hotels.
Most convenient airport is Baltimore (BWI). You can also use Reagan airport (was called National airport before), if you use Reagan, it is better to take a cab than renting a car... or you can use the subway during the day, 45 minute metro ride + shuttle bus to campus. Finally there is Dulles airport but it is much further away from the campus.
Food and fun: We will have coffee and juice in the morning (but
expect that you had breakfast before). During lunch you will be able
to chat with attendees of all the workshops and tutorials. Vegeterian
dishes will be available. The reception will take place from 4:30
to 6pm, at the Rossborough Inn on campus, a 5 minute walk from our building.
The ACM Special Interest Group on Computers and Society will present the
2001 SIGCAS Making A Difference Award to Ben Shneiderman.
And of course we hope that you will join us for the rest of the symposium on Friday!
To find the hotel: note that there are 2 Mariott in Greenbelt. The courtyard is the small one, just south of the Kenilworth Av. exit of the beltway (#23 I beleive) , then 3 immediate left turns, i.e. left on Greenbelt road (193) and left again on Walker drive and left on Golden Triangle. You can see a map from mapquest.
Since you might be able to share rides... Here is the shortest
route from that hotel to our building, via a back entrance