Living with Smart Things: Designing for the Social Experience of Physical Computing
Abstract: When your computer isn’t just a box with a screen, but a treasure, your companion, or a part of your body, how does this impact your interaction with it? My research builds a design approach for embedded computation (i.e. tangible computing, IoT, or cyber-physical systems) based on an understanding of how people interact these systems in social settings. In this talk, I will outline this approach in my research across three different settings, highlighting how social conflicts (big and small) can affect technology use and how these potential conflicts can be taken into account through design. First, to investigate how different members of a family interact with a device embedded into their home, I deployed a toy-like audiorecording device to help parent’s capture childhood memories of their kids without “ruining the moment.” Second, to help families preserve and pass down their memories across generations, I designed a tangible storytelling platform to give a physical form to a family's digital oral history archives. Third, to understand how the use of assistive technologies impact social status, I investigated how people with disabilities in West Africa used information technologies to challenge and overcome social and technical barriers to their participation in society. Throughout each of these projects, I will discuss how I incorporate attention to human values, in addition to individual human-centered design measures, in the study and design of these systems.