3rd International UBI Summer School 2012: Workshops

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A: Information Visualisation for UbiComp Data

Instructor: Professor Aaron Quigley, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

There are many facets of Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp) systems from low-level sensor technologies in the environment, through the collection, management, and processing of context data through to the middleware required to enable the dynamic composition of devices and services envisaged. These hardware, software, systems, and services act as the computational edifice around which we need to build our UbiComp systems and interfaces. However, the rate at which we can collect and store UbiComp data is rapidly outstripping the provision of tools for the effective analysis and exploration of such data. This workshop introduces Information Visualisation for UbiComp data as a means to display, explore, query, process, understand, represent and even repurpose the voluminous amount of raw sensor, richer context and user data needed to realise UbiComp systems.

For our purposes, UbiComp is a model of computing in which computation is everywhere and computer functions are integrated into everything. It is being built into the basic objects, environments, and the activities of our everyday lives in such a way that no one will notice its presence [Weiser, 1999]. Such a model of computation is “weaving itself into the fabric of our lives, until it is indistinguishable from it” [Weiser, 1999]. Everyday objects will be places for sensing, input, processing along with user output [Greenfield, 2006]. Ubiquitous Oulu is pushing forward on the vision of a UbiComp experience at a city level so that people there won't notice its presence. Data which is available and is currently used in Ubiquitous Oulu will form the basis for our investigation and development in this workshop.

This is a hands on workshop which will survey the breadth of Information Visualisation methods and techniques available for the study of raw sensor and context data from a Ubiquitous Computing system, through to the visual analytic methods, techniques and tools required to connect user data, actions, intentions with the lower level data sets.

UbiComp data is often abstract data without a clear physical form. Information visualization is concerned with the presentation of abstract data, in an intelligible visual form. The essential idea in information visualization is that the user’s perceptual abilities are employed to understand and explore such information. An important question is who the visualisation is for? The sensor network architect, the context modeller, the UbiComp system engineer, the UbiComp application developer, the UbiComp User Experience expert or the end user of the UbiComp experience? Information Visualisation can be useful for each but the tasks, expectations and backgrounds for each type of user will vary considerably.

Key to this workshop is the premise that collected, processed or stored UbiComp data is of little value unless useful information and hence knowledge can be derived from it. Starting with a rapid theoretical overview we will move onto practical projects with the literal "sea of data" Ubiquitous Oulu has available.


B: Supporting Community Through Interactive Public Displays

Instructor: Dr. Keith Cheverst, Lancaster University, UK

The workshop will commence with a review of background reading material and seminar based presentation of Case Studies relating to research on Situated Displays. Through discussion of these case studies we will reveal the key challenges relating to the design, deployment and evaluation of situated display based systems in general and, in particular, those designed to support community/awareness/coordination for members of a given group or community. For example, within ‘design’ we will consider approaches such as User Centered Design and Participatory design and the challenges of engaging with a given community in order to produce a design that fits in with the needs and values of the community. Following this exploration of the key issues and theory, you will be given the opportunity to utilse your knowledge (and creativity!) in order to tackle the main workshop challenge.

This challenge will be to design a situated display based system to support sense of community within the city of Oulu. But this challenge needs unpacking - cities typically comprise different geographic areas (as discussed by Lynch, 1960) with each area having its own community. How might one support these separate communities while at the same time supporting the overall Oulu community - is there a tension? How might one go about engaging with and learning about the different communities? How might one design a solution that is sustainable and one in which the community is likely to take ownership? You will work as part of a design team and while creativity is important so will be the justification of your design choices - many possibilities exist
and as a designer you need to choose between alternatives and explain/justify your choices. In your teams, you will also be asked to plan a project based around the challenge. For example, you will need to consider the planning of initial design workshops and how you might evaluate the success of your project - would you plan to use Sense of Community Index measures for example?

The workshop will have access to the UBI-hotspots, the interactive public displays deployed around downtown Oulu, and MultiTaction Cell units (http://www.multitaction.com/). So, you will be given the exciting opportunity to develop a prototype based on your design ideas. The fidelity of what you build will depend on your team’s programming experience but we intend to have teams with a range of skill backgrounds, so a team may comprise a skilled programmer, graphic designer, sociologist/ethnographer, etc.


D: Urban Sensoria: Human-Centered Computing in Practice

Instructor: Dr. Alejandro (Alex) Jaimes, Yahoo! Research

This interdisciplinary workshop (participation is open to artists and researchers) will explore a mixed scenario consisting of an exploratory-creative component to allow workshop participants to use novel ubiquitous computing technologies to explore Oulu, collect information, and work on a creative project. The workshop will thus aim to allow participants to have a hands-on experience to explore the use of various technologies in a creative process. We will specifically target the senses (sight, sound, smell, etc.), within a contextual framework that considers the city a collection of sensory inputs that may be captured and transmitted via ubiquitous technologies. The goal of this workshop is twofold: (1) to explore the use of ubiquitous computing for personal urban sensing. In particular, we would like to provide the space for the presentation of tools, techniques, and methods that focus on experiencing urban environments through the senses. Specifically, this includes techniques and devices to deal with elements perceived through the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance, direction, etc.). (2) to explore the use of such tools, techniques, and various processes for the creation of content, preservation, and sharing of experiences.

Ubiquitous technologies and devices for personal capture, recording, and interaction in urban environments have reached a new stage largely triggered by the advent of social media. The sensing of urban spaces, in the widest sense, is largely intertwined with creative processes and rapid spread of various kinds of information in social media—people often capture their experiences in order to share them. Two important aspects of this evolve around the possibilities in the creation of user-generated content using various sensors, and the cultural value that such information may contain when it is shared and interacted with in social media platforms. One of the most interesting shifts in the use of ubiquitous and digital technologies for capturing experiences is the increase in the number of possible ways in which experiences can be captured and shared. On one hand, the use of a variety of sensors (e.g., from basic cameras, to motion, temperature, and other sensors) enriches the possibilities in the creation of content. On the other hand, the “mix” of information that can be captured can also lead to greater in-sitiu observation and creation possibilities. In this sense, we can regard ubiquitous sensors as observational tools. In the context of the city, such sensors can serve several purposes. As we interact with the city’s urban environment, the sensors can help us highlight certain experiences. In addition they can help us document, share, and ultimately preserve: the media collected by individuals can be of significant value to cultural institutions in documenting many aspects of specific urban spaces. Driven by these observations, our motivation for the workshop is to provide a forum that will foster the exchange of ideas and experiences in relation to the practice of urban sensing and to the technologies that support it.

The creative Urban Sensoria workshop has been previously held in Medellin (Colombia), Manizales (Colombia), Singapore, Barcelona (Spain), and Tokyo (Japan), and Beijing, in conjunction with major art festivals such as ISEA, the Barcelona International Contemporary Art Festival, and the Festival de la Imagen.