MIRW 2006

Participants of MIRW 2006

The workshop Mobile Interaction with the Real World (MIRW 2006) at Mobile HCI in Espoo was a timely gathering of practitioners concerned with similar issues: connecting the mobile phone to places and things.

The proceedings [pdf] are now online, and well worth looking at.

Some interesting excerpts from the papers:

Telling a Story on a Tag: The Importance of Markers’ Visual Design for Real World Applications

This project designed, implemented and tested a kind of visual tag that can be designed to look like ordinary text or pictograms, but contains a unique code in its topology.

“When designing the physical tag for the Electronic Lens project, the aim was to tell a story by transforming the markers into sets of icons. Supplemental text, illustration and logotypes that had no technical functionality were also used to complete the design from an informational and aesthetic point of view. The design includes icons for expressing one’s opinion, for leaving one’s view of things through pictures, for a networked city with information accessible through mobile devices, and for the pleasure that comes up with exploring what potentially lies quiet behind this physical marker.”

A marker “hidden” in type, and the corresponding region adjacency tree.

User Perceptions on Mobile Interaction with Visual and RFID Tags

This project explored user-reactions to two different kinds of physical world interactions: barcodes and RFIDs. It tested what they thought of each technology, and how they might interact with them.

“The study results reveal that there are potential usability risks with the mobile interaction with RFID and visual tags. Currently, the mental model that people have on the technologies is still very vague, and although different concepts of using tags for mobile interaction have been considered in research communities for years and are currently gaining popularity in an enterprise context, the idea has not yet been adopted by large audiences because of the lack of existing commercial consumer applications. The study showed that there are no existing practices and mental models for the usage of visual and non-visual tags in the studied domain.”

A study participants reading RFID tag with a phone.

Hovering: Visualising RFID Hyperlinks in a Mobile Phone

This project developed an application called Hovering that let users visualise the tags that are present in local objects or the environment before activating them.

“As links in desktop web, the physical hyperlinks should be visualised to let the user know that 1) there is a link, 2) where it is located, 3) how it can be selected and 4) what will happen after the link is selected. The visualisation can happen in many levels: in the physical object itself the tag may have some icons representing its action and selection method, or the link can be visualised in various ways in the graphical user interface of the mobile terminal.”

On the left is shown the single link display mode. Only one link is displayed but with more information than in the list mode on the right.

The Mobile Phone as a Universal Interaction Device – Are There Limits?

This project prototyped two interactions with consumer products where the mobile phone replaced some of the physical interfaces that otherwise would have been part of the product themselves. They tested out the suitability of the mobile phone for these kinds of interactions.

“We believe that this hybrid approach of a traditional, haptic user interface, combined with an extended user interface on a mobile device, offers many benefits. Users can continue to directly interact with appliances, which is desirable in most everyday situations. However, in special situations where users would have to remember complex and clumsy sequences of pushing buttons or manipulating the appliance, it is much more intuitive to use a mobile device with its powerful and versatile user interface for interaction. For user interface designers, this is an interesting approach, as it allows them to make use of the full range of possibilities offered by modern GUI toolkits, without the physical and monetary constraints of adding such complex functions as a separate physical control.”

Change of water filter prototype.

Thanks to the organisers Enrico Rukzio, Massimo Paolucci, Tim Finin, Paul Wisner and Terry Payne for organising this focused and timely workshop.

[tags] Mobile HCI, MIRW 2006, NFC, RFID, barcodes, mobile, mobile technology, ubicomp [/tags]

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