Thursday, July 10, 2008

Airport Technology for the Usability Hall of Fame, if only it worked!

Albrecht Schmidt is the director of the Pervasive Computing and User Interface Engineering Group at the Universitat Duisburg Essen. When he was traveling in Seoul, he took some pictures of embedded information, which he uploaded to his blog post, Embedded Information: Airport Seoul.

I was excited to see the pictures that Dr. Schmidt posted of an active computer display with a list of names of people who should contact an information desk, right in the middle of the baggage on the luggage belt.

This ALMOST made it to my Usability Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the display was broken!

High-tech example

Low-tech example

I will give this an "A" for the concept, "E" for usefulness, since it the display wasn't working at the time it the picture was taken.

I think that Dr. Schmidt's key criteria for embedded information are important components to consider for information systems encountered in public spaces:
  • Embedding information where and when it is useful
  • Embedding information in a most unobtrusive way
  • Providing information in a way that there is no interaction required*
*I feel that users should have the opportunity to opt-out of information, when possible, and when appropriate. I also think that some information displays must be interactive, depending on the needs of the user and the context of the setting.

[1] Albrecht Schmidt, Matthias Kranz, Paul Holleis. Embedded Information. UbiComp 2004, Workshop 'Ubiquitous Display Environments', September 2004

I especially like the following quote from the Ubicomp 2004 article:

"We investigate how information can be provided to users – exactly when it is needed. Our approach is based on a variety of information displays unobtrusively embedded into the user’s environment. We place the information displays in context."

Pictures and a discussion of airport technology I've recommended for the Usability Hall of Shame can be found on my previous post:

Off-the-desktop musings about future interactions: User experience, user-driven design, Universal Usability, Airports, and the "Internet of Things"

(I came across Albrecht Schmidt's blog, "User Interface Engineering: A blog on novel user interfaces, mobile applications, pervasive and ubiquitous computing- I use the blog as a note-pad" . It is interesting to note that I blog about similar topics, and use my blog as an on-line filing cabinet.)

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