II-EN: Device and Display Ecologies
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As new personal devices of various form factors (from smart phones to laptop computers) proliferate, we believe that their potential to support human learning, activity, and information access can be fully realized only when these devices function together with a broader technology environment and with each other. We envision the day when such technology envelops society, and in concert empower individuals to function more effectively both individually and as members of society. In essence the projected infra-structure will allow us to investigate this future.In a sense, technologically savvy users already construct ecologies for themselves in an ad hoc manner. We ensure that hand-held devices we carry will synchronize with our larger devices like laptops and desktops. We ensure data exchange among the various applications we use, and we create personal and group workflows among our computational environments. We keep appropriate adaptors so that our portable devices have access to the projection screens or group displays in our work environment. We learn the interaction that is needed on each platform to ensure cross-platform interactivity. Finally, we organize our work and life around these interoperations ? synching our iPods and iPads periodically, selecting applications on each platform to support the way we work and our lifestyle as a whole. The challenge of this proposal is to remove the ad hoc nature of the construction of such one-of-a-kind ecologies.Our proposed infrastructure comprises two related subgroups. First, we propose a Rapid Prototyping Laboratory (RPL) where faculty and students can develop new devices to populate the ecologies. The RPL will support electronic and single-board-computer designs, printed-circuit board prototyping, and 3D object construction. Second, we will construct the larger environment to be populated by these devices. This environment includes a variety of large to personal display technologies and a set of tracking technologies to enable devices to situate themselves in space.We have assembled two sets of research projects that benefit from this infrastructure. First we inves-tigate how our envisioned ecologies may be realized. We will study how this myriad of technologies may interoperate to give the user a set of consistent expectations of interaction across devices and display environments. We shall also investigate HCI methodologies for humans to function within the 3D world populated by devices and displays. Our second set of projects investigates various uses of our envi-sioned ecologies. Extending the ecology analogy, each use scenario furnishes a habitat that contextual-izes the ecologies within it. We advance a set of research areas: education and learning; universal access; insight formation; smart homes; usable security; mediated social interaction; and electronic-textiles to furnish such contexts where technology-interoperation and user-interaction may be explored.An important aspect of this project is to encourage a kind of computational thinking among our re-searchers and students that span the digital and physical environment. As such our proposed infrastruc-ture will facilitate a broad interdisciplinary research. We will be using the infrastructure in the classes we teach bringing graduate students, undergraduates, and individuals from underrepresented populations into our research programs.