Tag Archives: research

Blogging…on a landline phone?

I’m excited that the last part of my dissertation was recently published (and is now free to view online) at CSCW 2018! My paper, ‘xPress: Rethinking Design for Aging and Accessibility through an IVR Blogging System’ talks about how landline phones can still be useful technology for people who face barriers to using a computer or smartphone. This work is with people over the age of 65 with low vision or who are blind and describes how I built a system called xPress that lets them blog on Tumblr…but on a phone. (link @ bottom)

Major findings:

  • connecting: People said using xPress made it easier to connect to other older people with vision challenges. They also thought it could provide a way to have more meaningful conversations with sighted people without the stigma associated with their vision loss.
  • unique community: xPress was a unique space where participants reflected on the challenges of having a vision impairment and interestingly didn’t want sighted people to contribute posts! After all, blind people hear the opinions of sighted people ALL the time. Instead, they thought this could be a community where sighted people can learn about life with a vision impairment.
  • voice for all: Designing a voice-based system was initially intended for people who aren’t comfortable using screen readers on computers. Not only did these participants find value in using xPress, but people who were active computer users also liked the emotion that could be derived from listening to a blog post as an audio recording rather than a computerized voice from a screen reader.

What this means for other researchers:

  • intersectionality: The participants were not solely older adults OR people with vision impairments. These were older adults WITH vision impairments. Think about how intersectional identities may affect how systems are designed and how people use them.
  • importance of voice: I’m not saying everyone will continue to use landline phones in the future (sorry?), but consider how voice-based systems can be built to leverage the emotion of human voice. Specifically for blind people, they use voice as an identifier. Think about the consequences of removing human voice in place of more efficient/scalable computerized voices.

What this means for people not in research:

  • bloggers: How you can engage people who are different from yourself? People with vision impairments and others may value spoken blog posts!
  • citizens: Many participants described how society sees older adults, people with vision impairments, and older adults with vision impairments as people who need help. Next time you see someone in either of these categories, have a more meaningful conversation with them beyond ‘Can I help you?’

link to paper: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3139354

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Home Automation 3.0

Home automation is nothing new. Hobbyists have been connecting gadgets into their appliances and fixtures for decades. But now, home automation is becoming more accessible to the amateur and a lot more aesthetically-pleasing, in terms of design. Google’s Nest allows people to control their thermostat using their cell phone. Its simple circular design most likely appealed to Google since not all of their designs are as clean.

Belkin’s WeMo allows users to control their lighting and view the cost for using each appliance with a simple phone app. Clearly the concept of ‘quantified self’ (viewing data about yourself to inform future behaviors) is extending to ‘quantified space’.


Years ago researchers at Georgia Tech began the Aware Home initiative began to think abut smarter spaces, specifically for older adults, mainly using sensors. How can we push the boundary beyond simple sensors to track presence or appliance usage, and towards innovative solutions that are easy for people of all ages to use. The added challenge is that older adults may have a higher chance of disability, and no two disabilities are alike. Universal usability, in general, may be as difficult as an NP complete problem. But, universal usability for quantified living spaces sounds feasible.

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ponder this..

The most recent OpenIdeo challenge is asking people to think about how we should maintain a state of wellbeing and thrive as we age. Sponsored by the Mayo Clinic, a non-profit medical research group, I think think poses an excellent question. With more people preferring virtual exercise, the rise of computer desk-jobs, and fewer people buying fresh (as opposed to canned and frozen) foods, how can we promote healthier lives as we age?

Thumbnail : teaching

A paper by Dr. Becca Levy shows not only did younger people have negative ideas about aging, but older adults often negatively self-stereotype themselves. And, these negative thoughts begin to form long before becoming an older adult. My solution to this problem? Older adults need to play an active role in new age culture. With my research, I plan to engage this demographic in today’s digital culture but also to link the virtual world with the real world, encouraging intergenerational collaboration both online and offline. While that may be a lofty and seemingly impossible goal, I don’t think we’re too far off. HCI researchers are developing tools to promote integenerational communication for family members. Collaboration is the next step, and we need to look beyond the family. Such a narrow point of view!

What to IDEO-ers think?

See for yourself.


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Post: Follow-up

Thank you to a reader of OnlineEducation.net who created this awesome infographic in response to a previous post. It points to an increase in moms using Facebook. In shock and horror, I was amazed that most surveyed joined the social networking site to keep tabs on their kids. As much as I suspected this may be true, I didn’t want to believe it! But do dads join for the same reasons? Everyone knows more females use SNS than males. Does this same increase exist for males? I suspect not, but I’ll wait for the next infographic!

Parents Facebooking Infographic

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Do Males Exist?

So I know males exist, but I’m specifically referring to males that use technology who live in independent living facilities (very specific? I know). So far, I’ve only recruited 1 for my research study which seems to make people believe that I only focused on recruited women. This is not the case, it just seems as though women are more interested in participating in research studies than men. Also, when I went to visit this community, asking around the common areas for people who used technology, none of the men seemed to do so. I hope they exist. For now, I will just get away with (truthfully) saying that my sample is representative of the gender distribution in independent living communities.

Any tips on how to recruit men?

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Participants Scheduled!

Great news. I’ve scheduled 5 participants in the last week. 5 in one day will be a busy schedule, but at least it will give me results to create my CAPWIC poster.

This week I’m in Pittsburgh for the National Society of Black Engineers National Convention. Check out my presentation on my website, as well as more links to crowdsourcing resources.

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IRB Approved!

Finally the IRB for my independent study research project was approved! This semester I am working to design a new technology to help older adults in online communication and collaboration.

In the past week I was able to

  • collect a LOT of papers previously published on this topic (and save them to Mendeley, the best reference manager tool on the market!)
  • contact the coordinator of the Facebook Over 40 small group at my church to interview her in the near future
  • get approved for a poster presentation at CAPWIC
  • met with Dr. Elizabeth Mynatt from Georgia Tech’s Institute for People and Technology (iPaT) and discussed my current research endeavors

In addition, I’ve had a recent interest in crowdsourcing. At the NSBE National Convention, I will be giving a tech talk for the Graduate Student mini-Conference on crowdsourcing and DIY technologies. Therefore I’ve been collecting articles on different uses of crowdsourcing.

In the upcoming week I hope to be able to

  • schedule a few interviews with residents of different independent living homes in the Baltimore area
  • coordinate with an undergraduate collaborator on possible designs for a website
  • finalize my interview questions
  • and blog more!
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Searching 4 Fun

The 34th annual ECIR (European Conference on Information Retrieval) is coming up in April 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. This year a very cool workshop will take place on Searching 4 Fun. While most research tends to focus on task-driven searches, there seems to be little efforts in the area of leisurely search. 

For me, at least, I’ve noticed that I tend to search for fun on my phone and Nook, and perform more task-driven queries on my laptops/desktop. And since more and more people are buying smart phones and other mobile devices, I think this would be a great area to explore. 

I think the most interesting topics for this workshop will be :

  • Use of Recommender Systems for Entertaining Content (books, movies, videos, music, websites).
  • Modelling of users interests and generation of accurate and appropriate user profiles.
  • Interfaces for exploratory search for casual-leisure situations.
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CPOTW #1: Bonfire

This begins the first series of Cool Project of the Week – Bonfire.

One of the professors in my department, Dr. Shaun Kane, worked on this project in graduate school and at  Intel Labs. Basically, Bonfire allows laptops to project onto flat surfaces, allowing gestures to be recognized.

Imagine origami – the complex and sometimes impossible task of folding sheets of paper into abstract shapes. Most times people are looking at instructions in a book or online, and folding accordingly. But instead imagine projectors showing you exactly where to crease on the paper you are folding.

Bonfire was tested by asking participants to complete such tasks using on-screen vs. micro-projection instructions, showing that performance improved using the micro-projection instructions.

Where could this go in the future? I predict remote family interactionAnyone remember Friday game nights? (I know it feels like so long ago.) Now when kids are in college, they can play games with their parents at home and grandparents far, far away.

What do you think the future with Bonfire would be like?

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A Blog A Day Keeps Dementia Away

System.out.println(“Hello World!”)

I wonder how many blogs in the world have started with that same first line. Probably millions since it’s oh-so-cliche. So I am probably the last computer science major to have a blog but I don’t mind. Hopefully putting my thoughts on paper (monitor) I will be able to express myself more clearly. This blog will serve as a means for me to:

  • discuss emerging technologies
  • ponder new ideas and concepts
  • get advice with my professional career

The plan is to do one blog a day for 365 days and to alternate between the 3 things mentioned above each day…minus today of course… because today I have more important things to accomplish (no offense readers).

Today I must catch up on some research. You see, I do research at the human-computer interaction lab at school. The current project that my research team is working on is to help Google improve their search engine for kids. Therefore I must analyze videos of children (ages 7,9,11) searching for information online categorizing the children into one of six search roles. I have 3 videos to complete. Thus, farewell all! Until tomorrow!

– a busy are.in.bee

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