Prototyping Tangible Grips of Web Contents - Field Study Challenges in Domestic Context

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Date
2013
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Degree Programme in Industrial and Strategic Design
Teollisen muotoilun koulutusohjelma
Language
en
Pages
148
Series
Abstract
The technological world is constantly developing towards new ways of interaction, exploring future scenarios which might require new methods of design. As technological prototypes are studied in the domestic context there can be certain characteristic challenges to overcome. Prototyping in the wild involves taking rather unfinished prototypes with simple features and scope to a real-life environment with the intention to explore and study new possibilities with an open-ended approach. This approach differs significantly from the traditional way of prototyping, which utilizes nearly finished products with pre-determined tasks, where the underlying interests are very distinct. In prototyping in the wild the actual prototype design and the ways of conducting the study are notably different and the domestic context also has its characteristic features compared to laboratory conditions. In my thesis I am introducing Tokens of Search, a prototype that was studied as a part of the Domesticating Search project by Microsoft Research Cambridge and Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Tokens of Search is a system that enables family members to create physical, tangible grips of web contents to be shared within the family. The system revolves around these small objects called tokens and the system supporting their use, consisting of RFID readers and an application on the families’ computers along with a tablet computer and a wooden tray for storing the tokens. The prototype was deployed in four families in Finland, UK and Korea for a period of four weeks each, during which the researchers visited weekly for discussion and interviews about the participants’ experiences with Tokens. The underlying research questions were how such a system fits in the aesthetic of the home and how families perceive it, what value the tangibility might bring to the interaction and what actual uses the families create with Tokens. As it turned out we faced numerous challenges in the study, subsequently the results did not answer our research questions in the way that we hoped. The families kept comparing Tokens to existing technologies and evaluating it by its efficiency and technical aspects, often ignoring the expressive nature of the study on very little emphasis. In my thesis I’m analyzing the study results, looking for evidence and reasons behind these challenges and suggesting ways of conducting a similar field study in the future while avoiding the biggest challenges that may arise.
Description
Supervisor
Nikkanen, Raimo
Thesis advisor
Lee, Jung-Joo
Keywords
prototyping in the wild, prototypes in domestic context, field study challenges, tangible web contents
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