New Technologies for Families


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Project description

This project has two main contributions:

1)    We developed a new methodology for designing technologies for and with families called technology probes. Technology probes are simple, flexible, adaptable technologies introduced into families' homes with three interdisciplinary goals: the social science goal of collecting data about the use of the technology in a real-world setting, the engineering goal of field-testing the technology, and the design goal of inspiring users and designers to think about new technologies.

2)    We developed and evaluated a system facilitating the sharing of calendar information between remotely located family members. Depending on their preference, some users enter information into computerized calendars, while others handwrite on digital paper calendars. All of the information is automatically viewable by everyone in the family.

Background – The interLiving project

From 2000 to 2003 we participated in the Interliving project, a European Union sponsored project that brought together families and researchers in computer science, sociology and education with the goal of developing technologies that will encourage communication, collaboration and creativity. Researchers from the University of Maryland, the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, the Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique de l'Universite de Paris Sud and the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique in France joined together to create new technologies that support co-located and distance communication and coordination.

We recruited 3 extended families in Sweden , 3 in France and one in the United States ; There were workshops with colleagues and with families, numerous home visits and interviews. Based on the needs of the families each project team developed prototypes A strong focus of our work is to develop new participatory design techniques for working with families. One of those techniques is to use Technology Probes as a way to learn more about communication patterns in families and to serve as a catalyst to the design of new technologies.

post-it note family message board
One of the technology probes in use in families was the interactive Family Message Board.

UMd Participants:

Catherine Plaisant, Associate Research Scientist, HCIL
Ben Bederson, Assistant Professor, Computer Science
Aaron Clamage, Faculty Research Assistant

Allison Druin, Assistant Professor, College of Education
Hilary Hutchinson, PhD Graduate Student, Computer Science
The 7 families who worked with us.

And our Interliving project partners in France and Sweden .

Publications and reports:

Catherine Plaisant, Ben Bederson, Aaron Clamage, Hilary Hutchinson, Allison Druin (October 2003)
Shared Family Calendars: Promoting Symmetry and Accessibility
(see also a long version prepared as an internal interLiving report)

Hutchinson, H., Bederson, B.B., Druin, A., Plaisant, C., Mackay, W., Evans, H., Hansen, H., Conversy, S., Beaudouin-Lafon, M., Roussel, N., Lacomme, L., Eiderback, B., Lindquist, S., Sundblad, Y., and Westerlund, B. (September 2002)
Technology Probes: Inspiring Design for and with Families

Hutchinson , H., Bederson, B.B., Plaisant, C., and Druin, A. (October 2002)
Family Calendar Survey

Browne, H., Bederson, B., Plaisant, C., Druin, A. (September 2001)
Designing an Interactive Message Board as a Technology Probe for Family Communication

Related Events:

Our first Technology for Families Workshop took place during the 2001 HCIL Symposium and Open House
The Second New Technology for Families Workshop is part of the CHI 2002 conference in April 2002

Sponsors and Partners:

This project is supported in part by:

- Microsoft Research, and

- the European Union (for more details see the Interliving project main website)

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