Monday, March 07, 2005

Machines of loving grace: User experience for ubiquitous-computing environments (Mike Kuniavsky)

Session description

Mike Kuniavsky (
Raw notes to be polished:

- understanding larger social, cultural, technological context is more important than tactical usability
*- a cellphone is not the handset, it's the person, it's how she uses it, the system, the other people who use it, the services
- systems thinking!
- cellphone is tip of iceberg for understanding small specialized devices that help people in some way

ubicomp, coined by Mark Weiser (RIP)

Key Concepts
- embedded in physical design of product, key part, not attachment
- specialized: focused on task, augmented by computing
- personalized: binds data and device to an individual

- opposite of virtual reality (Weiser): augmented reality, hyperreality
*- eventual disappearance of "the computer" (Norman)

Electrification metaphor
- Motor -> attach motor to enhance sewing machine -> today, motor inside tools, ubiquitous

Ubicomp examples
- Robosapien toy robot, Prius, Adidas1 shoes, iPod shuffle
- they have computers and they have to communicate w/ people

Names: intimate computing, pervasive computing, animated intelligence

Speeding up
- miniaturization
- wireless stds: Metcalfe's Law, network effect
- low-power, fast CPUs
- better batteries
- IPv6: lot more address space, allow things to be individually addressed (ct:RFID!)

- no screen, no keyboard

*- iPod + iTunes, the device (iPod) is the tip of the system (iTunes) iceberg
- Acura handsfree phone: car becomes the phone - the experience of the network, not the device

- smaller, specialized, leads to intimate devices in peoples lives: iPod, cellphone, WiFi detector ring
- different sizes: bluetooth headset, Health Monitor, Prada delayed image mirror (so you can see how you look from the back)
- collect intimate data: MS Lifebits

- ambient orb: display info you don't need immediately, displays brightness and color
*- showing info in way that doesn't demand your attention
- Ron Arad "ticker" crystal chandelier for Swarovsky


Changes in expectations
- embedded computing hides all the workings of the device
- hides good and bad
- tendency for device to take animist qualities: people start projecting psychology on device to understand how it works

Threatened civil liberties
- subtle, difficult to predict
- surveillance
- easier to install, difficult to manage and understand limitations

ETHICAL GUIDELINES - Adam Greenfield, see B&A article, Nov2004
0. First, do no harm

1. Default to harmless

2. Be self-disclosing
- be clear about what you're doing, how user can affect it

3. Be conservative of face
- don't shame users

4. Be conservative of time

5. Be deniable
- plausible deniability

ct: maps to BJ Fogg persuasion design ethics

*- ubicomp creating very narrow slits of UI for very large info structures
- how do we manage the info flood they are creating themselves?
- prioritizing info

ct: ubicomp + inherent metadata + folksonomies for organizing info?

Also made me think of two perfect examples of good and bad side of ubicomp that I encountered just this week:
  1. Bad, stupid, silly, scary: Paris Hilton's Sidekick hacked. Intimate info. Wide-ranging public revelations.
  2. Good yet scary: Friend left cellphone on plane. Went to web account. Found pictures some college kid had taken on her phone. Found phone numbers that she had not dialled. Called those numbers. Contacted college kid. He said he would send it back.
It's getting easier and easier to do really stupid things on a global scale without even realizing it.