Location-Dependant Information Appliances for the Home

Ethnographic studies of the home revealed the fundamental roles that physical locations and context play in how household members understand and manage conventional information. Yet we also know that digital information is becoming increasing important to households. The problem is that this digital information is almost always tied to traditional computer displays, which inhibits its incorporation into household routines. Our solution, called location-dependant information appliances, exploits both home location and context (as articulated in ethnographic studies) to enhance the role of ambient displays in the home setting; these displays provide home occupants with both background awareness of an information source and foreground methods to gain further details if desired. The novel aspect is that home occupants assign particular information to locations within a home in a way that makes sense to them. As a device is moved to a particular location, that information is automatically mapped to that device along with hints on how it should be displayed.


Download and Installation

Requirements / How it works

There are 3 main components to the system, the server (DeviceAwareSystem.exe), the client(DeviceDisplayData.exe) and the programs that provide the data to be displayed (Weatherupdater.exe, FlickrStream.exe, ToDoList.exe, ReminderInterface.exe ). The server requires a working SQL server. Setting up a sever is described here and here. As well, the system relies on phidgets, so ensure that you have installed the Shared Phidget installed. You will need to run a Shared Phidget Server and Connector locally for the system to function.

For simplicity in demoing this application, we have set all components to be run locally, on the same machine.


Unfortunately, as this was a proof-of-concept system, it is not overly user friendly. Still, here are instructions to get the system running.
First Time Program is Run:
After extracting the system, follow these steps:

  • ensure that the SQL database is running and properally configured
  • start the Shared Phidget server
  • plug an rfid reader into the machine
  • start the Device Aware Server
  • For each stream you wish to use, enter it's name into the Add Streams text box. The default streams are "weather", "todolist", "flickr", and "reminders"
  • you can now associate an rfid tag with a specific stream. Do this for each stream you wish to used
  • For each display device, attach an RFID tag to it and use the program to assign a display type to it

The server is now ready.

Every Time the System is Run:

* Start the Shared Phidget Server and Connector

  • plug in the RFID reader
  • Start the Server
  • Start the programs that feed the various streams (e.g. the to do list, the weather parser, etc)
  • Start The Client
  • Wave the tag associated with the stream you wish that location to display over the reader
  • place the device on the reader
  • if everything is properally configured, it should now display the appropriate data

The devices and display data can be changed on the fly.