Wednesday, November 19, 2008

AMI-Blocks Workshop @ AMI-08

What a great coincidence: after years of travelling to odd and interesting conference venues in different places all around, finally there is a event close to my home town: AMI-08

Today, I was glad to be able to present my view-point on about "Empowering users to shape the Internet of Things" as a position paper at the workshop AmI-Blocks 08 [1] organized by Fernando Lyardet (SAP Research), Erwin Aitenbichler (TU-Darmstadt), Felix Flentge (TU-Darmstadt), Wolfgang Maass (Hochschule Furtwangen) and Max Mühlhäuser (TU-Darmstadt).

My talk was well perceived and we had some really lively discussion about direct interaction with (augmented) real-world items vs. universal device as intermediaries. Whereas certain appliances, such as fridges, toasters, whatever could be powerful enough to embed computing, others are not - mobile phone could provide remote UI as a workaround. Another difference identified was that users might rather trust information from devices they own than strangers they meet.

Obviously, some participants of the workshop closely followed Marc Weiser's vision of the disappearing computer [2] and rather wanted to embed computing everywhere, such they saw mobile phones contradicting with that vision. On the opposite mobile phones are becoming the most social, most personal devices, 'married devices', being carried around everywhere, knowing a lot about users: music, calender, routines....and even Marc Weiser already talked about 'pads' and 'tabs'. It probably will be a mixture of both.

Another discussion focussed on the power of automation: whereas an enhanced coffee machine took longer for the coffee procedure than the original one, users apparently still enjoyed because of the 'experience' (this reminded me about the Roomba paper [3] mentioned a few days ago).

Thirdly, we discussed standards and had a consesus that research should avoid to get too close to standardization but we should rather think about various levels of technology augmentation at which we want to achieve applications/scenarios/inspiring visions.

[1] Fernando Lyardet, Erwin Aitenbichler, Felix Flentge, Wolfgang Maass, Max Mühlhäuser, AMI-Blocks, Workshop Proceedings

[2] Mark Weiser, "The Computer for the Twenty-First Century," Scientific American, pp. 94-10, September 1991

[3] Forlizzi, J. and DiSalvo, C. 2006. Service robots in the domestic environment: a study of the roomba vacuum in the home. In Proceedings of the 1st ACM SIGCHI/SIGART Conference on Human-Robot interaction (Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, March 02 - 03, 2006). HRI '06. ACM, New York, NY, 258-265.

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