Designing Interactive Behaviours for Smart Objects

Ledo, David (2020)
Designing Interactive Behaviours for Smart Objects. PhD thesis, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, September. Co-supervisors: Lora Oehlberg and Saul Greenberg.

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In this thesis, I propose methods for repurposing existing hardware and software to enable designers to create live interactive prototypes for smart interactive objects without the need to write code or create custom circuitry. The advent of ubiquitous computing brought the promise of interactive artifacts that in-tegrate into our everyday lives. While this has led to a myriad of “smart objects”, the problem is that it is difficult for interaction designers to devise interactive behaviours for such objects. For exam-ple, how might an interaction designer prototype behaviours for a smart speaker? How can they go beyond voice responses and, for instance, animate lights to show that the speaker is listening, or searching for an answer on the web? Designers today face three challenges: (1) needing multiple expertise of designing behaviour, form, circuitry, and programming the functionality; (2) lacking software tools to author fine-tuned dynamic behaviours; and (3) needing closer-to-product repre-sentations to physically manipulate the prototype. I overcome this gap through a method and two interactive systems. I propose a design metaphor: Soul–Body Prototyping, which suggests leveraging off-the-shelf mobile phones and watches to create smart object prototypes. By enclosing the mobile device (“soul”) into a physical enclosure (“body”), the designer can exploit the mobile device’s rich sensing, outputs, and internet connec-tivity. I then operationalize Soul–Body Prototyping through two proof-of-concept prototyping tools. Pineal features trigger-action behaviours which automatically generate 3D models for physical forms. These forms fit a mobile device and expose the necessary inputs and outputs. Astral is a tool where designers can mirror a portion of the desktop’s screen onto a mobile device, and create map-pings that convert live mobile sensor data into mouse or keyboard events. Thus, the mobile device remote controls (and repurposes) familiar desktop applications for dynamic behaviour prototyping. Overall, my work contributes an alternative way to prototype smart interactive objects, which in-forms the design of future prototyping tools. Moreover, I investigate fundamental questions such as the meaning of interactive behaviour, as well as evaluation methods for prototyping tools and toolkits in HCI research.

Bibtex entry

@PHDTHESIS { 2020-09-Thesis.LedoMairaDavid,
AUTHOR = { Ledo, David },
TITLE = { Designing Interactive Behaviours for Smart Objects },
SCHOOL = { Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary },
ADDRESS = { Calgary, Alberta, Canada },
YEAR = { 2020 },
MONTH = { September },
NOTE = { Co-supervisors: Lora Oehlberg and Saul Greenberg },