Designing for Awareness: An Experience-focused HCI Perspective

Dhaval Vyas

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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    Within Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) research, the notion of technologically-mediated awareness is often used for allowing relevant people to maintain a mental model of activities, behaviors and status information about each other so that they can organize and coordinate work or other joint activities. The initial conceptions of awareness focused largely on improving productivity and efficiency within work environments. With new social, cultural and commercial needs and the emergence of novel computing technologies, the focus of technologically-mediated awareness has extended from work environments to people’s everyday interactions. Hence, the scope of awareness has extended from conveying work related activities to people’s emotions, love, social status and other broad range of aspects. This trend of conceptualizing HCI design is termed as experience-focused HCI. In my PhD dissertation, designing for awareness, I have reported on how we, as HCI researchers, can design awareness systems from experience-focused HCI perspective that follow the trend of conveying awareness beyond the task-based, instrumental and productive needs. Within the overall aim to design for awareness, my research advocates ethnomethodologically-informed approaches for conceptualizing and designing for awareness. In this sense, awareness is not a predefined phenomenon but something that is situated and particular to a given environment. I have used this approach in two design cases of developing interactive systems that support awareness beyond task-based aspects in work environments. In both the cases, I have followed a complete design cycle: collecting an in-situ understanding of an environment, developing implications for a new technology, implementing a prototype technology to studying the use of the technology in its natural settings. The first design case focused on mediating awareness in a work environment with a purpose of supporting social and informal interactions and community building. Using ethnomethodologically-informed ethnography, I studied an academic department over the period of six months and developed a prototype of an awareness system called Panorama that playfully mediated social awareness in a medium-sized work organization. Panorama is a large-screen display that supports mixed-initiative interaction. It allows co-workers to send their personalized objects such as holiday pictures, postcards and textual messages to be shown on the large screen in a dynamic way. At the same time, the system fetches abstract cues from the environment and represents these on the large screen. The purpose here is not to improve the work efficiencies but to create an environment that makes the co-workers socially aware of each other’s activities in a playful manner. I deployed the Panorama prototype in a staffroom of an academic department for two weeks and studied how it affected co-worker’s interactions and awareness about each other. The second design case was a part of a larger EU project called AMIDA (Augmented Multiparty Interaction with Distance Access). My goal was to design an interactive system to mediate awareness within a creative design studio environment. Using ethnomethodologically-informed ethnography, I studied 2 academic and a few professional design studios over eight months and developed a mobile phone bases prototype system called CAM (Cooperative Artefact Memory). CAM allows designers to collaboratively store relevant information onto their physical design artefacts, such as sketches, collages, story-boards, and physical mock-ups in the form of messages, annotations and external web links. After the implementation, I studied the use of CAM in a product design studio over three weeks to understand how CAM supported awareness during creative design sessions. Overall, my PhD dissertation shows how ethnographically informed understanding of a work environment can help in designing systems. My ethnomethodologically-informed approach helps in both conceptualizing and designing for awareness in interactive systems. The work done in the two design cases provides important insights into designing awareness systems using experience-focused HCI perspective.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • Nijholt, Anton, Supervisor
    • van der Veer, Gerrit Cornelis, Supervisor
    • Heylen, Dirk K.J., Advisor
    Thesis sponsors
    Award date18 Feb 2011
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-90-365-3135-1
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2011


    • EWI-19569
    • EC Grant Agreement nr.: FP6/506811
    • METIS-277527
    • IR-76051
    • HMI-HF: Human Factors
    • EC Grant Agreement nr.: FP6/033812


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