The universal controller

This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating.

Much research in ubiquitous computing focuses on the idea of a universal controller; a device that can adapt from making phonecalls to controlling the air conditioning. The mobile phone is seen as a good platform for controlling interactions in a range of other devices. It offers an adaptable interface with more diversity than most commonplace consumer appliances: a screen, sound, haptic feedback, internet/data access and the ability to process information. NFC technology offers a cheap technical platform to base these concepts on, and a set of touch-based interaction methods to start building complete interaction process around.

But if mobile phones start to do a lot more than voice calling and text messaging, how should the mobile interface change? What does a universal controller look like, and how does it function? Should the form factor change along with the function?

What changes may happen to the physical devices themselves? Should phones still look like phones? Should they look like wallets or keys? In the way that mobile cameras and music players have their own, dedicated buttons, do we need to consider extra physical affordances that specifically control these new functions? Should they offer robust surfaces to ease the effect of being constantly placed against readers? Where should active surfaces be placed, and how will this affect the overall usability?

This project should consider the design of many devices for different purposes, should physically prototype many of the devices and test them out in everyday situations.

References

Christof, R. 2006. The Mobile Phone as a Universal Interaction Device – Are There Limits? Proceedings of the Workshop Mobile Interaction with the Real World, 8th International Conference on Human Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (Espoo, Finland, September 2006) Link

Koskela, T. and Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila, K. 2004. Evolution towards smart home environments: empirical evaluation of three user interfaces. Personal Ubiquitous Computing. 8, 3-4 (Jul. 2004), 234-240. Link

Hodes, T. D. and Katz, R. H. 1999. Composable ad hoc location-based services for heterogeneous mobile clients. Wirel. Netw. 5, 5 (Oct. 1999), 411-427. Link

Myers, B.A., Nichols, J., Wobbrock, J.O., Miller, R.C. Taking Handheld Devices to the Next Level. Computer, Volume 37, Issue 12, Dec. 2004 Page(s): 36 - 43 2004. Link

Nichols, J., Chau, D. H., and Myers, B. A. 2007. Demonstrating the viability of automatically generated user interfaces. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (San Jose, California, USA, April 28 - May 03, 2007). CHI ‘07. ACM Press, New York, NY, 1283-1292. Link

Nichols, J., Myers, B. A., Higgins, M., Hughes, J., Harris, T. K., Rosenfeld, R., and Pignol, M. 2002. Generating remote control interfaces for complex appliances. In Proceedings of the 15th Annual ACM Symposium on User interface Software and Technology (Paris, France, October 27 - 30, 2002). UIST ‘02. ACM Press, New York, NY, 161-170. Link

Nichols, J., Myers, B. A., Higgins, M., Hughes, J., Harris, T. K., Rosenfeld, R., and Litwack, K. 2003. Personal universal controllers: controlling complex appliances with GUIs and speech. In CHI ‘03 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA, April 05 - 10, 2003). CHI ‘03. ACM Press, New York, NY, 624-625. Link

Nichols, J. W. 2001. Using handhelds as controls for everyday appliances: a paper prototype study. In CHI ‘01 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Seattle, Washington, March 31 - April 05, 2001). CHI ‘01. ACM Press, New York, NY, 443-444. Link

Omojokun, O., Pierce, S., Isbell, L., and Dewan, P. 2006. Comparing end-user and intelligent remote control interface generation. Personal Ubiquitous Comput. 10, 2 (Jan. 2006), 136-143. Link

Zimmermann, G., Vanderheiden, G., and Gilman, A. 2002. Prototype implementations for a universal remote console specification. In CHI ‘02 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, April 20 - 25, 2002). CHI ‘02. ACM Press, New York, NY, 510-511. Link

Read more about these design briefs.

Related things:

  1. Touch as interaction medium This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating. In London, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong and elsewhere the ‘swipe’ or ‘tap’ is already a common interaction for paying......
  2. Universal design with NFC This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating. NFC has been suggested as an enabling platform for universal design or design for all. Universal design can be......
  3. RFID and the everyday This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating. Many of us have experienced RFID as a way of paying for tickets on public transport or gaining access......
  4. Interfacing the ‘internet of things’ This is a design brief, one of many themes that the Touch project is investigating. The ‘internet of things’ is a vision of a world full of interconnected things that participate in a wider......
  5. Three papers on mobile payments The weblog ‘Putting people first’ links to three interesting papers from CHI 2008 on mobile payments. From meiwaku to tokushita! Lessons for digital money design from Japan. Mainwaring, S., March, W., and Maurer, B.......

This entry was posted in Design briefs, Interaction design, Mobile, Research. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Touch design briefs · Touch on 3 July 2007 at 11:29

    [...] The universal controller [...]

  2. [...] have the physical form or price range to justify one. For more on this see our thoughts on the universal controller and this research paper by Christof [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: