I aim to shape products, interfaces and services that mediate meaningful dialogues between people, systems and their environments within everyday life.

Posts tagged ‘HCI’


The Finish Line

After some intense weeks of late nights and hard work, the Stanford Human-Computer interaction course I took through Coursera has come to an end. This was a great way to motivate myself to work on my own personal project and after 5 weeks of immersing myself in the whole end-to-end design process, from user research and observations all the way to learning jQuery Mobile for my design implementation and conducting user evaluations. I came out developing a prototype for a mobile biking app designed to encourage and guide urban exploration. It’s still in a very rough stage at the moment and I’ve gleaned some valuable feedback from user evaluations that will require some big design changes. This has become a pet project that I intend to carry on after the course.

This course offering was an experimental launch for such a design course in an online format so there were some hiccups and a few things that could be improved on, but overall it was quite successful. I especially enjoyed the peer assessments for each assignment as it allowed you to see what ideas other students were working on and to receive constructive criticism and feedback for your own project. Professor Scott Klemmer was a great instructor and he plans to offer it again later on with improvements based on feedback and what they had learned from this first round. So, if you’re interested in HCI or UI design or even if you’re familiar with the concepts already, it’s worthwhile to try this course out.


CASCON 2009: Day 1

Today was my first day at IBM’s CASCON conference featuring talks and workshops from industry leaders and academic researchers.

Computing for a Smarter Planet


conference was kick-started with a keynote session by Martin Wildberger from IBM Canada speaking about Computing for a Smarter Planet. As the world becomes smaller, flatter and globally integrated, companies are adjusting their business processes to fit into this transforming ecosystem. As a result, technological solutions are providing businesses innovative and strategic ways for social change.

Wildberger describes our world as becoming instrumented through RFID and ubiquitous technologies, interconnected by networks, process chains and horizontal integration, and intelligent as we collect more data and information. The more data available can provide new insights and thus new intelligence to spur a process of innovation for smarter work, smarter food, or smarter telecom to name a few.

An interesting example discussed was the idea of smarter cities, in which we can incorporate sensor technologies through the infrastructure to make cities cleaner, safer and more efficient. The use of ubiquitous technology can effectively change social behaviours: traffic congestion and pollution in Stockholm was greatly reduced by automatic charges based on flow and time of day, acoustic sensors and recorders in Chicago allow police to triangulate the source of a gunshot, and drivers looking for parking in New York City can be immediately notified of the location of a free parking spot.

Notification Design in Collaborative and Social Networking Environments

This workshop looked at technology as interruption in our daily lives. Joanna McGrenere from UBC presented her research on notification design in the Jazz collaborative development environment before we broke into small groups to examine and discuss instances of notifications in technology, systems and devices. Phone rings, emails, and calendar reminders are obvious examples of notifications as are less noticeable forms such as seat belt signs, PA systems, traffic lights, microwave beeps and elevator floor signs to annoying examples like fire alarms and alarm clocks.

So when does notification become interruption and when are interruptions considered disruptive? We determined that notifications interrupt when they make us stop one activity to attend to the notification. Phone calls and alarm clocks are interrupters while seat belt signs and traffic lights are not.

In terms of the level of disruption that these interruptions cause, it depends on the context of the situation in which we find ourselves, the content of the interruption and how valuable it is to us, how much control we have over the situation, and the frequency and duration of the signal. A false fire alarm is then considered a huge disruptor as it has no value to us, forces us to evacuate a building, and continually signals off loudly for an extended period of time. Another big disruptor occurs when software/OS updates take full control of our system and we are left twiddling our thumbs in front of the screen until it has completed.

The subject of the new Google Wave came up in regards to its playback concept, in which the non-linear collaborative discussion can be played back see how the conversation unfolded in context.This could be an interesting platform in which notifications can be eliminated; rather than receive notifications every time an update has been made and by whom, users can now simply access the conversation whenever they want and still remain in the know.