Team Ether

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Team Ether

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Thesis Statement


Consumer products that embrace the principles of ubiquitous computing are more appealing to users.

Revised Thesis

Users are forcing a paradigm shift that demands consumer products to embrace the principles of ubiquitous computing.


  • Human-Computer Interacton (HCI)
  • Human-Centred Computing
  • Pervasive Computing
  • Ambient Intelligence
  • Physical Computing
  • Internet of Things
  • Haptic Computing
  • Things that Think
  • Context-Awareness
  • Task Based Design
  • Activity Based Design
  • Background Computing
  • Technology Integration
  • Object Hyperlinking


Research Notes

Potential Topics

Ubiquitous computing

  • Computers are getting faster, smaller, more effecient, and cheaper which will result in computers in everything (ubiquitous). This is already happening, and as it grows computers will become invisible, embedded in everything, and connected together. They will also become intellegent to changes in their surroundings (ambient intellegence).
  • The key to the success in ubiquitous computing will be the human factors. The will not be invisble unless human-computer interactions become more natural so that people are not aware that they are using a computer at all.
  • Example: Amongst mobile phones, digital music players, and many other computers that we don't think of as computers, tablets have become popular. Tablets have been around a long time, the idea has been around for decades, and there have been many effective tablets in this decade. However it didn't gain popularity until people started looking at them in a new way (a new class of device) different from newbooks or laptops. That is what the iPad and the Apple iOS accomplished. It was a shift in perception accomplished through a new user interface that was much more natural to users that had previously existed.
  • Some Computer Science Issues In Ubiquitous Computing
  • Ubiquitous Computing: Are We There Yet?
  • Connecting the Physical World with Pervasive Networks
  • The Human Experience
    • "Machines that fit the human environment instead of forcing humans to enter theirs will make using a computer as refreshing as a walk in the woods.”
    • "Invisibility of computing, from the human perspective, can start when we can determine an individual’s identity, location, effect, or activity through his or her mere presence and natural interactions in an environment."
    • "It is not the value of any single service that will make computing a disappearing technology. Rather, it is the combination of a large range of services, all of which are available when and as needed, and all of which work as desired without extraordinary human intervention. A major challenge for applications research is discovering an evolutionary path toward this idyllic interactive experience."
    • "The brief history of ubicomp demonstrates three emergent features that appear across many applications. First, we must be able to use implicitly sensed context from the physical and electronic environment to determine a given service’s correct behavior. Context-aware computing demonstrates promise for making our interactions with services more seamless and less distracting from our everyday activities. Applications can work well when properly informed about the context of their use. Second, we must provision automated services to easily capture and store memories of live experiences and serve them up for later use. Finally, we need continuously available services. As we move toward the infusion of ubicomp into our everyday lives, the services provided will need to become constantly available partners with the human users, always interrupted and easily resumed."
    • "The focus on activities as opposed to tasks is a crucial departure from traditional HCI design."
      • "They rarely have a clear beginning or end, so the design cannot assume a common starting point or closure and thus requires greater flexibility and simplicity."
      • "Interruption is expected as users switch attention between competing concerns."
      • "Multiple activities operate concurrently and might need to be loosely coordinated."
      • "Time is an important discriminator in characterizing the ongoing relationship between people and computers."
      • "Associative models of information are needed, because information is reused from multiple perspectives."

Thesis (roughly):

  • Ubiquitous computing is changing the way human-computer interfaces are designed. In order to be invisible to users, computers must interact with users naturally.


  • Intro - What is ubiquitous computing, and thesis.
  • Background - Why is it important, where did it come from, where is it going.
  • Body - Key aspect of ubiquitous computing interaction/interface design. traditional design principles vs ubicomp design principles
  • Examples - tablets, smartphones, boards - success stories of computer interacting with user naturally,and blending into the background.
  • Conclusion


  • Paradigm Shift - see course notes, and watch a video

Banner blindness is a phenomenon in web usability where visitors to a website consciously or subconsciously ignore banner-like information, which can also be called ad blindness.

  • An eye-tracking study conducted by the Nielsen/Norman Group finds Internet users avoid viewing banner ads. Text advertising is read more often than display ads, according to the research.
  • There's still hope for online ads. Pernice Coyne said graphical ads with text and contrasting colors, like white text on red, is less likely to be disregarded. "They're looking at them if they're text," she said. "I hate to sound boring, but [it is best] if you can make sure your ad is something simple, text or a recognized logo, and it needs to be relevant to the page."
  • The researchers also found that people read Web pages in an F-pattern, narrowing their focus as they scroll down a page of content. Pernice Coyne said readers fixate or focus on the content at the top of a page, read a little bit further down, then give up and go back to the beginning of the same or subsequent page.
  • Images that appear in the middle of the page, a spot for advertisements, are considered "obstacles" and annoying.


  • The industry is taking different approaches to the problem. Many are starting to have Rich Internet Application advertisements (RIA) – with ads that sometimes takeover the entire screen without the users consent – classic interruption marketing. I haven’t really looked at the stats as to the efficacy of these campaigns but it’s a clear response to banner blindness.



  • placed it right at the beginning of a bulleted list, a natural breaking point.
  • put the banner ad by natural exit points – the end, after the first paragraph, at the beginning of a break in format, or by the most boring parts of the article.
  • Size color shape all play a part in people noticing your ads

webpage marketing strategy

Research Essay Outline

Thesis: Webpages and web ads suffer from a phenomenon known as banner blindness


  • Intro - on the thesis, and on what blinder blindness is
  • Background info - how humans read web pages, the studies that are done on users reading webpages
  • Banner Blindness Problem Identified - tests and studies that have been done, and how this issue was discovered
  • Solutions - the solutions for web ads, and possible ad placement to over come this problem
  • Conclusion


Banner Blindness research with some tests

Thesis Presentation Slide Layout

Slide 1: Intro - Team members, and team name.

Slide 2: Banner Blindness

  • what it is
  • F shape reading habits of users

Slide 3: ubicomp 1

  • Moore's Law
  • Computers are everywhere
  • Ubiquitous computing is a human-computer interaction model
  • "Invisibility of computing, from the human perspective"

Slide 4: ubicomp 2

  • Embeded
  • Context aware
  • Personalized
  • Adaptive
  • Anticipatory

Slide 5: Thesis

  • Ubiquitous computing is changing the way human-computer interfaces are designed. In order to be invisible to users, computers must interact with users naturally.
  • "Machines that fit the human environment instead of forcing humans to enter theirs"

Slide 6: Example

  • iPad
    • "Interface considered a milestone in the history of computers that defined the tablet as a new class of device"
  • Smart Refrigerator

Essay Outline

BTH – Ubiquitous Computing


  • Double space
  • 2 Spaces after period



  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Keywords


  • Context
    • What is ubicomp
    • embedded
  • Purpose
    • Why is it important to designers
  • Interpretations of the idea of ubiquitous computing
    • ubicomp, ambient intelligence, pervasive computing
  • thesis
    • Users are forcing a paradigm shift that demands consumer products to embrace the principles of ubiquitous computing.


  • One paragraph per point, 6 points, ~250 words per paragraph
    • People prefer computers that conform to then rather that conforming to computers (natural interacting) [Sharon]
    • People like computers that are implicitly context aware (identity, location, activity, etc…), adaptive, and predictive (example setting phone to French explicitly vs. speaking in French and automatically switching to French (text and all)) [Kyle]
    • Users want services to be personalized ( this is automatically done, doesn’t need to be manually set) [Ken]
    • People was products that do many things with little input from them (using the information from the other services; services interact; data shared) Multiple activities concurrently and coordinated. [Kyle]
    • Users want constantly available services that can be easily interrupted and resumed in any location. [Ken]
    • Tablets and ipad example (stress natural interaction of screen is what made it successful) [Sharon]


  • Thesis (reword)
    • Users are forcing a paradigm shift that demands consumer products to embrace the principles of ubiquitous computing.
  • summary of points
  • recommendations, ideas
  • general

Essay Draft


Ubiquitous computing is a post desktop model of human computer interaction in which the information processing is part of people’s day-to-day activities and operation. Computers are getting faster, smaller, more efficient, and cheaper which is resulting with computers in everything. This is already happening, and as it grows computers will become invisible, embedded in everything, and connected together. As this develops, computers will have to become more intelligent and aware of their surroundings. One of the main key points of ubiquitous computing is to make the machine adjust to the human world; to make machines a part of daily life without people noticing it. Some of the devices that we use with the ubiquitous computing model are cell phones, music players, GPS’s, and interactive whiteboards. These are great examples that demonstrate the ubiquitous computing model. People use all of these devices daily. However, they don’t think about the fact that those are actually computers. They have been integrated in our lives.

There is a shift in the sense that technology is being integrated into our daily lives in a manner that encourages human/machine interaction. A lot of the technology that people take for granted is seldom even considered as something separate but rather as an extension of ourselves. Also people place a great level of trust in technology; often without thinking they are doing so. Whether it is a GPS directional system, a self-parking car, an iPad with important information on it, ubiquitous computing is becoming a key factor in our society. The average person does not really consider the computing power of the technology that they incorporate into their daily lives. Rather they seem to simply integrate the technology into their lifestyles. This is a natural human reaction to advances in technology once they become used by everybody and accepted in our environment.

Like in the early 20th century the car was first used and understood by very few people. Now we drive our cars or take the bus without giving it a second thought and usually with very little thought as to how the car operates, aside from the need to put gas into it. The same is happening with tablets, phones, and many other devices. We simply incorporate them into our daily lives and they help us with our routine and they don’t seem amazing anymore, just a natural tools for us to use. Tablets, GPS systems, controller free video games, car interfaces, voice command technology, cell phones have all helped to remove some of the artificial interfaces from traditional technology usage. When we think about it for a moment we see that this technology has become a key part of our daily lives in a way that did not exist even 20 years ago. In both our work and entertainment technology has become a standard part of our daily lives. This trend is continuing and this level of integration is becoming more and more ubiquitous. This essay will elaborate further on ubiquitous computing. Ubiquitous computing is the future of computer products. Moreover, consumers will likely to purchase something that is familiar to them and seems less like a machine. Users are forcing a paradigm shift that demands consumer products to embrace the principles of ubiquitous computing.

Natural user interface

People prefer computers that conform to them rather than conforming to computers. A natural and easy process in learning how to use a device is crucially important in a product. If the learning process is too complex or takes too much time, the users won’t want to use the product and will search for alternatives for it. User-friendliness and natural input are of key importance in this area. Rather than reading through manual, software devices are designed in such a way as to allow the user to discover the functions of the product, through minimal experimentation. In this sense the technology teaches us how to use it through interaction. Simply exploring the functions of a cellphone or an iPad may serve as an example of this, as do cars that can park themselves. For instance, the technology now exists on the market that allows a computer to park a car by sensing the surrounding area and acting accordingly. The luxury car giant Lexus currently markets such a model and this serves as an excellent example of easy natural user interface. Many north Americans can drive a car, but giving control to a computer to move the car while the person is actually in it, in other words trusting the computer to safely park the car without damage is a strong example of the level of trust that people have placed in technology and how far the paradigm shift has come. In terms of ease of use in this interface, no special training is required to make use of this feature and it is presumed that any driver will be able to make use of this feature in a comfortable way since the car is on the market. This is a good example of a natural user interface since the only skills needed are the ability to drive in the first place a have only the causal acceptance and awareness of technology usage that most people have these days.

Context Awareness

Users do not like to feed their devices and application information. Ubiquitous devices should determine as much information about the user as possible in order to adapt to and predict what a user wants. To do this requires contextual awareness. Context includes such information as the user’s identity, location, and activities. By identity we mean who the user is and what are their preferences. By location we mean where the user is in the world or in a room, where have they been. And what is around them. And by activities we mean what is the user doing and what have they done. In true ubiquitous computing, this activity awareness extends not just to what the user is doing with the device or application, but what is the user doing in the world. All this information should be determined implicitly, without direct input from the user. It is that explicit input from users that should be avoided in order to making the computer processes invisible to the user, and thereby makes the user experience feel more natural. A good example of context awareness is a device that changes the device language to French automatically when a user speaks French instead of having the user manually change the language to French. While that may take more sophisticated speech recognition systems than we have available today, the amount of contextual awareness in devices is increasing. With the addition of GPS and online access in smartphones and tablets in the last few years, services now have access to a significantly greater amount of locational context information.


All users like to feel special, and individualized. In congruence with this individuality users like to customize their computing experience. They like services that remember who they are, and their preferences. In addition to services having to remember user identities and their preferences, services also have to be adaptive. This adaptability means user preferences do not have to be set or pre-programmed by the user. Instead, the services will set the preference and personalize the user experience based upon previous user inputs and usage patterns. Example of this technology is the digital video recorder TIVo. TIVo records TV shows according to preset interests of the user, the more advanced version of TIVo records TV shows based on what the user have been watching in the past. So in essence if a user watches a lot science fiction shows, TIVo will prerecord shows of that nature without the user telling it to. And if the user preference changes, the service should be smart enough to change the settings without additional commands. This personalization and adaptation technologies are the basis of ubiquitous computing. They are also the core for realizing context awareness in pervasive service provisioning. Users want to discover the most appropriate service to support their tasks, and the most appropriate service depends on user preferences and context therefore, ubiquitous computing is pushed to provide the personalization needed for an individual user.

Data Sharing

In the ubiquitous computing model there are often many computers running many services. Users will expect that interactions with any given device will be shared with any other device. Services must be able to share information and use other services on the same device and across other devices. In addition it is likely than many services are going to be running at any given time, both on a single device and across many. These services need to be able to interact in real-time. For example, if you are watching television and a news story is mentioned, the user should be able to read it in more detail in a news service on any other device they are using. All this should happen without the user needing to search for it the news story. This sort of seamless interaction between multiple services and devices will allow users to easily and naturally carry on with whatever activity they are doing without needing to work at the device to make it do what they want it to do. This will make the computers invisible to users by making users think of the computers as an entirely different class of device. From the example the user perceives a television and perhaps a phone and not two computers with different interfaces.

Service interruption and resumption

Ubiquitous computing aims to integrate itself into everyday life, and everyday life is not a single threaded linear event. In the daily lives of an average user, there are many interruptions, stoppages, and unexpected occurrences. Users also need to take breaks during their activities, or even want to put an activity on hold. Sometimes an activity can be put on hold for long durations or permanently. Regardless of the durations or the frequency of interruptions to an activity, the ability to resume an activity after an interruption must exist. Users also expect the service to resume the activity with all previous progresses intact. What this means is that when a service pauses an activity or process it must save all progress done on the activity and any settings that might be created for the activity. When the activity resumes all the saved data must be readily available, and the activity should resume as if no interruption had occurred. Furthermore, when an activity had been paused for a long duration, the user might forget previous progress and the service should be aware of the passage of time, and reacquaint the user with the activity and its progress. In addition, users also require continuously available services, as today’s paradigm move toward the infusion of ubiquitous computing into our everyday lives, the services provided will need to become constantly available, always interrupted and easily resumed. The manner of the service resumption is also paramount in the successful integration of ubiquitous computing. The service must be able to start in one location, paused, resumed at a completely different location with a different interface and a different computer. Only when all of those capabilities are meet, then true integration into ubiquitous computing will be possible, and accepted by the users.

Tablets and iPad example

Tablets have existed before iPad came along. However, they were not successful. Microsoft came up with a line of Microsoft Tables PC but their clients were mainly business people. In 2010 Apple Inc. released the iPad with major success. The iPad is extremely popular and people find it easy to use. The key element of the iPad’s success lies with its great user interface that people find natural and comfortable to use. Natural interaction on the screen is what made it successful. They are easy to use due to the touch screen technology and iPads are very portable. In some ways they have replaced the paper notebooks that people used to carry around. Handwriting and note taking technology is also available and it’s interesting to note that this copies, in a technical way, the old styles of note taking. Comfort levels are established. The use of an iPad, for example, is learned quickly since the functions are all laid out on a touch screen. The only presumed background knowledge would by previous use of computers such as laptops, etc. which are common in today’s schools and workplaces. The user interface is natural because it removes the need to input information through the traditional keyboard in favor of directly inputting information on the screen, and the way people manipulate the screen. It was this natural interface that made people think of the iPad and of tablets as a new class of device, not merely a netbook or laptop without a keyboard.


The principles discussed in this essay are becoming more and more expected by users in the technology that they use. People demand that the devices and interfaces they use conform to the human form and ways of doing things, rather than making people conform to the demands of computers. This human centred design requires computers to become more aware of who users are, what they are doing with it, what is going on around in around it, and using these and other contextual information to adapt and to make predictions. Because everyone is different and uses computers differently, one of the ways computers need to adapt is to personalize interfaces and interactions with the computer to the user. And in real life people don’t usually do things in a linear task oriented way like traditional computer interactions. People want to be able to do many things at a time and have computers keep up with their activities and how those activates might affect each other. Furthermore, people don’t want to be limited by time and space. They want to be able to start, stop, and resume activities when and where they like. Computers will need to be able to facilitate to and adapt to how users want to use things, and not make user adapt to computers.

The iPad serves as a good example of what can be accomplished when a product is designed properly and with these principles in mind. Primarily due to the new and innovative way people are naturally able to interact with it, and do so almost immediately without training has made people think of tablets in a new way, as a new class of device. This is essentially the goal of the ubiquitous computing model, not to make people think of computers as computers, but to think of them as an entirely different type of object. Designing computers that accomplish this goal is not easy. It requires designers and developers to think carefully about how people think and behave. That means more time spent focusing of developing these aspect and more time testing with people. This is time well spent because it gives those designers and developers a competitive advantage that is slowly becoming an expectation and requirement as the ubiquitous computing model become more and more prevalent.