the cups blog


Ubiquitous Systems and the Family: Thoughts about the Networked Home

Paper presented by Linda Little.

In this research the authors tried to look at the data very broadly. Linda told us that she intends to focus heavily on the methodology which she thinks will be very helpful to this audience.

Each of us carry around many different devices in our daily lives. If someone else starts using your device do you want it to still use and make decisions using your personal settings.

An important part of the family unit is how they interact with each other. If we design and create products for families we need to understand that not all families are functional. Each family works differently and has different needs and boundaries.

If we think about the vision of the future how do we portray it? We recruited people from different backgrounds and asked them about four scenarios we had developed. We had professional actors act out the scenarios. The intention was that the people seeing the scenarios would engage in serious discuss the scenario. They were related to every day tasks including voting and shopping. We drew participants from all parts of the population. We allocated participants into groups based on technical background. So we divided groups based on technical ability and then by gender. This was done because technical males tend to dominate the discussions and we wanted to hear from everyone even the older, non-technical females. There were 325 participants 180 males.

The networked home of the future is supposed to respond to the wants and needs of the people in it. The people need to be able to set preferences. There are trust and privacy issues in the future home. We discussed these with participants.

Linda showed an example scenario video for shopping. The futuristic shopping cart helps the woman know what she has at home, wants to buy, soon-to-happen birthdays and where to find things in the store. At first the participants said “wow I want one of these!” Then after the discussion got started participants started to worry about things like complexity of the device and who would control it. The major themes were: 1) Is it usable? 2) Who controls it? 3) Who sees it? 4) Who benefits 5) Who takes responsibility?

Audience Question

  • The videos are great, can you upload them to YouTube? Yes.
  • Did participants talk about what was currently in the home? Yes. They mentioned how super markets store data now. They also mentioned that they don’t go into their sons home.
  • How did you run the focus groups, what did you use as prompting questions? We had 24 focus groups though some were not well attended. We used a very open methodology and tried not to introduce bias. We did bring back the conversation if it wandered too far.
  • Putting together this video was expensive, how much of an advantage was it? We found that videos were an easier way to elicit information. People related better than giving a written script.
  • Do you think taking a purely qualitative approach is the best one to use? We already know that users think in terms of user, data and purpose? What we did after we got data from the focus group we put it into a questionnaire.
  • Did all the focus groups get all the scenarios? Yes
  • Did you design the scenarios to cause discussion on specific question areas such as privacy or security? The scenarios were designed to encourage discussion on trust and privacy. The groups did discuss other information.