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Interaction across Objects, Time and Space

Posted on by Gerd Kortuem

Ubiquitous computing and the Internet of Things represent a radical departure for the design of interactive systems. We are moving away from the 1:1 interaction model where one user interacts with one device at a time, to a n:m model where one or more users are in constant and seamless contact with many devices. The 1:1 model is exemplified by devices like a PC and a mobile phone. The new n:m model is exemplified by interactive public displays, smart furniture and future smart physical objects.

Two question now arise:

  • How do we design user interfaces that support interactions that cross objects, time and space? 
  • How do we design interactive systems that support interactions that cross objects, time and space?  

In a recent paper entitled Supporting Interaction with the Internet of Things across Objects, Time and Space and presented at the Internet of Things 2010 conference at Tokyo, my colleague Fahim Kawsar and I tackled the second question. In the paper we describe a software architecture for flow-based interactive systems. A flow, or more precisely a situated flow, is a high-level activity model that is linked to physical entities and digital devices.

Situated Flow

At runtime the model maintains the state of the interaction between one user and one or more devices, making it possible to carry interaction state from device to device. A corresponding software framework provides the foundation for flow-based interaction and device co-ordination. 

The work was done in a hospital context, so our application examples relate the use of smart medical devices in a future care scenario. Details can be found in the paper: 

Fahim Kawsar, Gerd Kortuem and Bashar Altakrouri. Supporting Interaction with the Internet of Things across Objects, Time and Space. Internet of Things 2010 Conference (IoT-2010), Nov 29 - Dec 1, Tokyo, Japan. 

The corresponding presentation slides can be found on slideshare.