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Getting a Grip on Ubiquitous Computing through Prototyping

Scott R. Klemmer
Computer Science, Stanford University


Newell-Simon Hall 1305 (Michael Mauldin Auditorium)


Prototypes are the pivotal medium that structures innovation, collaboration, and creativity in design. In this talk, I’ll suggest a culture of prototyping and iterative design as a path to achieving Weiser’s goal of calm, ubiquitous computing. The challenge is that prototyping a ubicomp system is much harder than prototyping in traditional product design—where foam core and duct tape go a long way, or GUI design—where a small library of widgets expresses most applications. Thus, an important challenge for computer science researchers is to build tools that better support a culture of prototyping.

In particular, I’ll suggest that our physical bodies play a central role in shaping human experience in the world, understanding of the world, and interactions in the world. Contemporary design studios, offices, and labs are filled with both physical and electronic artifacts, but the two exist separately, and the infrastructure for moving between media representations—scanning and printing—is heavyweight and cumbersome, at odds with the freewheeling, organic nature of creative work.

For the past six years, my colleagues and I have conducted research into interfaces that couple physical and electronic representations of artifacts for integrated interaction. Manipulation in one medium effects a corresponding change in the artifact’s dual medium. Based on fieldwork with designers, office workers, field scientists, and engineers, we’ve created and evaluated integrated prototyping tools and interfaces ranging from whiteboards to transcripts to idea logs field notebooks. These systems demonstrate that the benefits of the physical world (flexible and ready-to hand interaction, “infinite” battery life, “high” resolution) can be effectively married with those of the electronic world (interactivity search, storage, replication) to produce compelling interfaces that are felicitous with current practice.

Speaker's Bio

Scott Klemmer is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, where he co-directs the Human-Computer Interaction Group and is a member of the new Stanford Institute of Design. He received a dual BA in Art-Semiotics and Computer Science from Brown University in 1999, and an MS and PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 2001 and 2004 respectively. For the past six years Klemmer and his colleagues have conducted research into user interfaces that bind physical and electronic representations of artifacts for integrated interaction; manipulation in one medium effects a corresponding change in the artifact’s dual medium. Several of his (along with many colleagues) research systems have had commercial impact: his speech design tool has been used and extended by dozens of companies; a system for vision-based capture of walls inspired current commercial product features; and the handheld augmentation of books fueled advanced development in industry.

Speaker's Website

Jennifer Mankoff