Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Summer school in St Andrews, Teaching Context-Awareness

I had the privilege to teach a course on context-awareness [1] as part of the SICSA Summer School on Multimodal Systems for Digital Tourism. The summer school was directed by Aaron Quigley (University of St Andrews), Eva Hornecker (University of Strathclyde), Jon Oberlander (University of Edinburgh) and Stephen Brewster (University of Glasgow).


It was very exciting to discuss with the students ideas for novel digital devices to support tourists and come up with new concepts in this domain. Ideas ranged from interactive umbrellas (taking the concept described in [2] further) to digital souvenirs that ensure a lasting memory.

On Monday night Chris Speed gave an inspiring talk on ghosts, memories, and things reflecting on history, the Internet of things and how we perceive the world around us in a very though provoking way. Hi inspired us to think about the stories and memories that surround us and that are inherently linked to all things humans us. … it was in a long time a story about ghosts that made a lot of sense :-)
When going back we saw a great example of a security system that is based on physical constraints... you can open it from the inside but not from the outside:


Aaron asked me to talk on context-awareness. I did the talk along the lines of a soon to appear chapter on www.interaction-design.org. To me one of the – still remaining – fundamental challenges in HCI with context-aware systems is that the system as well as the human is adaptive. And as people learn often incredibly fast the adaptation may be contra-productive, hence it is essential to take this into account. Have a look at my slides if you like to learn more about context-awareness and HCI.


When we were there, we learned that St. Andrews is the place to play golf – the old course is where you need to go. Looking more closely it became clear that this is for others ;-) but there is a option for the rest of us. It is called the The Ladies putting Club St.Andrews “Himalayas” – just walk in and play (2 pound per person, and no need to book a year ahead). And if your friends don’t play golf you get away with the photos you take there as it is only 5 meters from the old course.

[1] http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5633502/talk/context-aware-systems-004-print-small.pdf
[2] Sho Hashimoto, Takashi Matsumoto. The Internet Umbrella.  http://www.pileus.net/

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