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InterLiving - Designing Interactive, Intergenerational Interfaces for Living Together

Objective

The InterLiving project studies and develops, together with families, technologies that facilitate generations for living together. A Swedish-French interdisciplinary consortium of scientists, from computing, social sciences and design, studies the communication needs within inter-generational relationships in families, and develops innovative artefacts that support such needs while blending these artefacts into family environments. The impact that these technologies can have on today's families is studied based on ethnography of in-home communication, using "shared surfaces" (e.g. bulletin boards, post-it-notes) as a general metaphor to facilitate everyday communications. For and in these studies methods are used and developed, where experience from family members' use of cultural and technology probes is documented and built-on. We design, co-operatively with family members, augmented, comfortable 'shared surfaces' that integrate into the families' homes. The expected results are working prototypes designed with the users, studied and evaluated in actual use. The InterLiving project studies and develops, together with families, technologies that facilitate generations for living together. A Swedish-French interdisciplinary consortium of scientists, from computing, social sciences and design, studies the communication needs within inter-generational relationships in families, and develops innovative artefacts that support such needs while blending these artefacts into family environments. The impact that these technologies can have on today's families is studied based on ethnography of in-home communication, using "shared surfaces" (e.g. bulletin boards, post-it-notes) as a general metaphor to facilitate everyday communications. For and in these studies methods are used and developed, where experience from family members' use of cultural and technology probes is documented and built-on. We design, co-operatively with family members, augmented, comfortable 'shared surfaces' that integrate into the families' homes. The expected results are working prototypes designed with the users, studied and evaluated in actual use.

OBJECTIVES
1. To understand the needs of diverse families. Three families, each with 2-3 households, in each of two EU countries are partners. The chosen families include geographically distributed members as well as co-located members from different generations. Various forms of data are collected, to inform the technological development;
2. To develop innovative artefacts that support the needs of co-located and distributed families. By taking advantage of new advances in small-scale devices, embedded computing and mobile communications, new technological artefacts are developed that are a part of the very 'fabric' of everyday family life;
3. To understand the impact such technologies can have on families. The impact of these new technologies on communication, co-ordination, and collaboration activities within families, is investigated, using a combination of ethnographic and exploratory data analysis techniques.
Innovations:
The interLiving project offers three kinds of innovations: context, process and technology. Context involves the use setting and values of the project. Process involves both the co-design methods and the study of co-adaptation of the artefacts by users. Technology involves the creation and/or novel integration of a variety of technological artefacts.

DESCRIPTION OF WORK
The project is organised in two parallel research work packages (WP): Co-operative design (WP1) and Technology development (WP2). WP1 and WP2 run in parallel over the three years, continuously informing each other. The other work packages, also running over the three years, are WP3 (Project management) and WP4 (Dissemination).
The design process is based on active participation of the families as designers based on their needs and desires. Brainstorming techniques, scenario building, paper- and video-prototyping, and design walkthroughs are conducted with the families to design novel artefacts for use within the family. Several joint workshops with all families have been conducted but more emphasis is now put on work together with family members at their homes.
As a basis for understanding the communication needs of the families, probe techniques have been developed and used. In year 1 cultural probes such as diaries and disposable cameras were used giving feedback on current communication practises and needs. For use in year 2 a novel method with technology probes was developed.
A technology probe is similar to a cultural probe in that it is an artefact introduced into the family life with the purpose of collecting information about the family that we could not collect otherwise, and it also helps the family reflect about some aspects of their life. The probes are deployed in the families' homes as a mechanism to learn more about how families communicate, and what their needs are. Unlike a cultural probe, a technology probe is targeted at the interaction between the users (here the families) and technology.
Two technology probes have been developed and installed and their use studied in the families' homes:
- messageProbe, embedded digital writing surfaces and displays, connected over the net between households. Family members can write or draw notes to each other, much like paper sticky notes;
- videoProbe, a screen and web cam at each connected site . When the image captured by the web cam changes significantly and then stays reasonably still for a few seconds, an image is grabbed and sent to the other sites.
In the final, third year of interLiving, prototypes are developed and studied for long-term use. The prototypes are specifically derived from our experiences with the families, in workshops and with the technology probes. We have identified both practical and more whimsical applications. They are all, in some sense, a shared surface.
The Door prototype is a shared surface designed to be placed on the back of an entry door. It meets a similar need in a different way, allowing family members to exchange diverse types of messages through sharing information of scheduled activities, in a more individual way.
The MirrorSpace prototype is an answer to a common request for individual family members to have innovative ways of staying aware of and communicating with other specific individuals in other households.
The Inkpad, which is a distributed-shared surface that you draw on, is meant for playing, informal chatting and background awareness - and important messages.
Together, these prototypes provide a glimpse of how distributed families of the future might be able to effectively communicate with each other. If we are successful, families will have a simple and effective way of establishing a network of family members and close friends, and of mixing and matching different communication appliances that meet their changing communication needs and desires.
The development of the prototypes will continue to involve the families.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

KUNGLIGA TEKNISKA HOEGSKOLAN
Address
Valhallavaegen 79
100 44 Stockholm
Sweden

Participants (2)

INSTITUT NATIONAL DE RECHERCHE EN INFORMATIQUE ET EN AUTOMATIQUE
France
Address
Domaine De Voluceau
78153 Le Chesnay
UNIVERSITE DE PARIS XI PARIS-SUD
France
Address
15, Rue Georges Clemenceau
91405 Orsay Cedex