Digital Home Seminar Series

Digital Home Seminar Series, Spring 2005

Presented by Intel Research Berkeley and the University of California, Berkeley

Organized by Allison Woodruff

"Smart Homes: Smart Cities"

Ben Hooker, Royal College of Art

January 18, 2005

Abstract: Whereas most research on domestic technologies focuses on information interior to the home (e.g. 'smart home' systems), or from global sources (e.g. the Internet), I am interested in considering the home as embedded in the surrounding electronic geography of the city. Rather than assuming the home's traditional boundaries, with electronic products providing limited access to selected information, I am interested in exploring how emerging electronic technologies can be shaped for the home, and equally, how the home may be shaped by emerging technologies to address, for instance: aesthetic possibilities of the city's ambient information; shared information between individual homes; building links within local communities; visualising and controlling accessibility and participation. In my talk I will show a series of projects around this theme, ranging from built-and-tested public installations to conceptual architectural proposals.

Bio: Ben Hooker is a multi-media designer who divides his time between commercial consultancy, academic research and teaching. His projects typically involve collaborations with scientists, architects and industrial designers and explore the consequences of intangible computer-generated 'data landscapes' merging with real spaces. He is especially interested in finding ways to articulate the overlaps between the phenomenal and ephemeral worlds of materiality and data. Ben has a part-time post as Research Fellow in the Interaction Design Research Studio at the Royal College of Art (RCA) and also tutors final-year students on the Graphic Design course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (University of the Arts, London).

"The Ubiquitous Camera: An In-depth Study of Camera Phone Use"

Mirjana Spasojevic, HP Labs

January 25, 2005

Abstract: This talk presents an in-depth study into how people use their camera phones. The total of 34 participants were recruited in the US and UK, with approximately a third being teenagers. Using a combined method of interviews and grounded discussions around a sample of actual photos, the study examined people's intentions at the time of capture, subsequent patterns of use, and desires for future technology.

The result is a 6-part taxonomy describing the way images are captured both for sharing and personal use, and for affective and functional use. While the majority of images are captured with both sharing and affective intentions, a substantial percentage of images support exclusive individual or functional purposes. For the images that are shared, this happens in a variety of ways, from showing images on the phone during face-to-face encounters to other means of sending or posting. The implications of these findings for future products and services are discussed.

This is a joint work with Tim Kindberg, HP Labs Bristol, and Abigail Sellen and Rowanne Fleck, Microsoft Research.

Bio: Mirjana Spasojevic is a senior research scientist in the Mobile and Media Systems Lab at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, CA. Her interests include design and deployment of mobile and ubiquitous computing systems, systems performance and user studies. She has led a pilot deployment of the Cooltown technologies at the Exploratorium Science Museum in San Francisco.

"Lessons From an Adaptive House"

Michael C. Mozer, University of Colorado, Boulder

February 01, 2005

Michael C. Mozer's Homepage

The Adaptive House

Abstract: The promise of automated "smart homes" has been much touted in the press for the past quarter-century. However, few automation innovations have been adopted because home inhabitants seldom view the benefits as outweighing the costs. One significant cost of an automated home is that it has to be programmed to behave appropriately. We describe an alternative approach in which the goal is for the home essentially to _program itself_ by observing the lifestyle and desires of inhabitants and then learning to anticipate their needs. This _adaptive home_ operates almost transparently to the inhabitants, in contrast to the cumbersome user interfaces common in traditional automated homes. I'll describe my experiences over the past decade with a system in my own home that controls ambient temperature and lighting so as to simultaneously maintain a comfortable environment and conserve energy, and I'll reflect on the successes and limitations of the work.

Bio: Michael Mozer is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he joined the faculty in 1988. Dr. Mozer received his Ph.D. in psychology and cognitive science at the University of California at San Diego and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto. His primary research focus is on computational models in cognitive neuroscience, particularly phenomena of visual attention and its pathologies, perceptual learning, and awareness. His interests include application of machine learning techniques to problems in engineering and artificial intelligence. Dr. Mozer has served on technical advisory boards of multiple start-up companies involved in data mining (including Athene, Umbria Communications, and AnswerOn Technologies), and is a co-founder and research scientist at Sensory Inc. which focuses on embedded speech technologies for consumer electronics.

"The PlaceLab and Other Tools for Studying and Developing Context-Aware Systems for the Home"

Stephen S. Intille, MIT House_n

February 08, 2005

Abstract: I will describe some of the work the House_n group at MIT is doing to create tools for studying and developing ubiquitous computing systems for natural settings such as the home. We have designed environmental and mobile sensor technologies that can be easily brought into existing homes and used to collect (or infer) information about activities of daily living in non-intrusive, non-stigmatizing ways. I will describe two of the tools, context-aware experience sampling software and a tape-on ubiquitous motion sensing system, and I will illustrate how we are using them. I will then present an overview of the PlaceLab, an observational laboratory under construction in a residential neighborhood of Cambridge that we are using to study ubiquitous computing technologies, particularly "just-in-time" proactive health care. The PlaceLab is intended to be a shared academic resource available to researchers throughout the academic community.

Bio: Stephen Intille, Ph.D., is Technology Director of the House_n Consortium in the MIT Department of Architecture. His research is focused on the development of context-recognition algorithms and interface design strategies for ubiquitous computing environments and devices. In current work he is developing systems for preventive health care that support healthy aging and well-being in the home by motivating longitudinal behavior change. He received his Ph.D. from MIT in 1999 working on computational vision at the MIT Media Laboratory, an S.M. from MIT in 1994, and a B.S.E. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. He has published research on computational stereo depth recovery, real-time and multi-agent tracking, activity recognition, perceptually-based interactive environments, and technology for preventive healthcare. Dr. Intille has been principal investigator on two NSF ITR grants focused on automatic activity recognition from sensor data in the home, as well as the MIT principal investigator on sensor-enabled health technology grants from Intel, the National Institutes of Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He received an IBM Faculty award in 2003.

"The Production, Consumption and Management of Virtual Spaces in the Home"

Alladi Venkatesh, University of California, Irvine

February 15, 2005

Abstract: As new Information/Communication/Entertainment (ICE) technologies begin to enter the home front, there is much industry buzz about the transformation of the home and the domestic environment in radical ways. Terms such as the networked home, smart home, digital home, home of the future, home automation, and smart appliances are now part of the common vocabulary. In this context, the Internet is certainly viewed as indispensable to family life. Indeed, not since the days of home electrification and the introduction of home appliances (e.g. refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, etc.) has there been such an excitement. In my talk, I analyze these possibilities from the users' point of view. That is, how are families coping with existing technologies and how prepared are they in the adoption of new technologies? What lessons can we draw from their recent experiences and what possible scenarios lie ahead?

My analysis will incorporate some theoretical ideas and empirical results. The theoretical framework will include three essential components. First, I begin with the broad notion of home as living space and the virtual space as an evolving or emerging element of it. I use a structural model of the household to describe and illustrate the social/spatial/temporal configuration of the household. Second, as technologies enter the living space, the processes by which they are integrated into the home involve domestication, customization, genderization (or feminization) and generationalization (adult/child nexus). Third, these processes will interact with the potential functional roles of technology – the role of technology as enabling, as mediating and as transforming. The empirical question I pose in my presentation is, how are the new technologies creating such possibilities? What implications exist for the producers of new technologies? What are the sociological implications inherent in such changes?

Bio: Dr. Alladi Venkatesh is Professor of Management and Computer Science, and Associate Director, CRITO (Center for Research on Information Technology) at the University of California, Irvine. Professor Venkatesh's research focuses on the networked home and how consumers and households are adapting to new technologies of information and communication. In the 1980s he completed a major study (Project NOAH I) for the National Science Foundation (NSF) looking at how American families have adapted to the presence of computers at home. In a follow up NSF study (Project NOAH II) (1997-2000) he extended this line of research and is currently investigating the use of multi-media technologies by families. He recently started a project on Youth and Technologies (Y-Tech). He has developed theoretical models of household/technology interaction based on his prior empirical work and existing research streams in new home informatics and diffusion theory. His work has implications for the design of virtual environments for consumers and households and also for new product development in the hi-tech industry. He is also studying issues of technology diffusion and adoption in cross-cultural settings - in Scandinavia and India. He is currently an investigator on a multi-year project (Project POINT) funded by the NSF which examines IT impact on the individual in various settings, home, work-place, community and schools. He has given presentations to industry audiences, Microsoft, Intel, Nokia, Ericsson, Electrolux (Sweden), Philips (Netherlands), and Samsung (Korea).

Professor Venkatesh is also interested in cross-cultural research. As a Senior Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) he has conducted field work in India studying consumption patterns among Indian households. He is known for his work on Ethnoconsumerism. Recently, in April 2003, he hosted a major international conference on Home Informatics (HOIT 2003) at the University of California, Irvine. Professor Venkatesh's scholarly publications have appeared in Communications of the ACM, Telecommunications Policy, Journal of Consumer Research, Management Science, Journal of Marketing, and the International Journal of Marketing.

"The EQUATOR IRC Domestic Experience"

Andy Crabtree, University of Nottingham

February 22, 2005

Abstract: The seminar will present an overview of the EQUATOR IRC, an interdisciplinary research collaboration concerned to develop systems integrating the physical and digital (including networked components embedded in the physical environment, information appliances, and wearable devices) through a number of "experience" projects. We will focus on the "domestic experience" in EQUATOR and review the main two strands of work undertaken - cultural probes and social science research - paying particular attention to the findings of ethnographic studies. Findings explicate and show the social organization of technology use in the home, particularly the organization of technology in the management of incoming and outgoing communications, and highlight the need to support the assembly of ubiquitous components by inhabitants of the home. These findings have informed the development of a component model and 'jigsaw' editor that enables inhabitants to configure and reconfigure a growing range of devices and services to meet their local needs and manage complexity in the home.

Bio: Dr. Andy Crabtree is a sociologist, with a particular interest in ethnomethodology. He has conducted a wide range of ethnographic studies of social interaction in the workplace, libraries, tourist offices, virtual environments, the home, and mixed reality settings as part of interdisciplinary research into the collaborative character of computing. Current research is funded by the EPSRC Equator Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration and focuses on understanding the collaborative character of technology use in the home and the collaborative nature of mixed reality gaming. Previous research includes the EU Disappearing Computer Initiative ACCORD project, which focused on the development of new and emerging technologies for the domestic environment; the Esprit Long-Term Research Project eSCAPE, which focused on the development of new forms of virtual environment; and the Dragon Project, an industry-academia partnership which focused on the development of a global customer service system to support the business of container shipping. Andy Crabtree is the author of Designing Collaborative Systems: A Practical Guide to Ethnography, published by Springer-Verlag.

"Having Much To Do: The Anthropology of Busyness"

Chuck Darrah, San Jose State University

March 01, 2005

Silicon Valley Cultures

Abstract: The sense that life is speeding up has become so ubiquitous that it scarcely deserves comment. Busyness is seemingly accepted as a curse of late modernity — and often as evidence of self-importance. Paradoxically, busyness cannot be understood apart from time and yet it cannot be reduced to it. Indeed, the main consequence of busyness, at least in the U.S., is the creation of practices for managing — not just living — everyday life. These practices bind together things, people and ideas, and they blur familiar spheres of life, such as family and work. They also have implications for the future of families and for the narratives by which we create the good life for ourselves.

The presentation is based on a two-year ethnographic study of dual career working families in Silicon Valley and was conducted by three anthropologists at San Jose State University.

Bio: Dr. Chuck Darrah is co-founder of the Silicon Valley Cultures Project at San Jose State University. He is a cultural anthropologist interested in work and workplaces, high-tech regions, ethnography and design, and the use of information technologies. He has conducted fieldwork among dual career families in Silicon Valley and, with J. A. English-Lueck and J. M. Freeman, is completing Busy Bodies: Busyness and the American Dream.

"Next Generation Architecture: Folds, Blobs, and Boxes"

Joseph Rosa, SFMOMA

March 8, 2005

Joseph Rosa's Book "Next Generation Architecture: Folds, Blobs, and Boxes"

Abstract: A new generation of architects is pushing digital technology to its limits and continues a tradition of "organic" architecture, often labeled "blob-itecture." Following a trajectory traced from the 17th-century Baroque, Joseph Rosa presents new designers who have expanded the non-Cartesian aesthetics of smooth, supple and morphed forms by 20th-century innovators, and propel it forward into the digital age. In the process, these designers and architects broke the orthodox box of Modern architecture, and often through the use of cutting-edge computer modeling software, pushed the boundaries of what shapes could be built. In this talk, Rosa proposes methodologies and trend-setting forms for the 21st century.

Bio: Joseph Rosa is the Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). He is the author of numerous publications, including Glamour: Fashion, Industrial Design, Architecture (2004), Yves Béhar fuseproject/ design series 2 (2004), Next Generation Architecture: Folds, Blobs, and Boxes (2003), ROY/ design series 1 (2003), Albert Frey, Architect (1990/1999), A Constructed View: The Architectural Photography of Julius Shulman (1994), and Adolf Loos: Architecture 1903 – 1932 (1996). He is also an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts and a lecturer in the College of Environmental Design at University of California, Berkeley.

"Architecture as Interface"

Jeffrey Huang, Harvard University

March 15, 2005

Abstract: What happens when communication media instead of physical walls begin to define the spaces our bodies inhabit? As networking infrastructures become increasingly part of our built environments, physical and virtual elements merge in many ways, leading to new kinds of spaces with components of both the physical and the virtual realm. This talk explores these questions at the center of the nexus where physical and digital media meet, by discussing a built, inhabitable interface that operates in everyday life: the Swisshouse. The Swisshouse is a large “architecture as interface” prototype, conceived and built to connect the geographically scattered community of Swiss scientists, and reverse brain drain. Concrete examples of both hardware and software technologies that served as building blocks for the Swisshouse, such as digital walls and interactive wallpapers, are discussed to provide evidence of the increasing spatialization of digital media, and reflect upon the related design issues, challenges, dangers and opportunities.

Bio: Jeffrey Huang is Associate Professor of Architecture, Digital Media and Information Technology at Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), and since 2003, also at Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), where he is in charge of creating a new undergraduate program in Interactive Media. Jeffrey’s teaching focuses on the intersection of digital media and architecture, and his research investigates the possibility of combining physical architecture and information structures to support integrated offline and online processes for business and everyday social activities. Recent projects include: the Swisshouse, Eventspace, Digital Agora (currently under construction), and Smart Store. A native from Rome, Italy, and Swiss citizen, Jeffrey received his diploma in architecture (DiplArch) from the ETH Zurich and his master's (MDesS) and doctoral (DDes) degrees in inter-organizational information systems from Harvard University, where he was awarded the Gerald McCue Medal.

"Switching On to Switch Off: Explorations in Idleness in Home Life and Its Implications for Broadcast and Messaging Systems"

Richard Harper, Microsoft Research Cambridge

March 29, 2005

Richard Harper's Book "Inside the Smart Home"

Abstract: Prior talks in this seminar series have emphasised the busyness and complexity of home life. In this seminar I want to take a different approach that emphasises how technology is sometimes used to let people switch themselves off. I will explore how this is done by considering some of the temporal and physical patterns of home life. I will suggest that analysis of these patterns can be used to leverage insights into new communications and broadcast applications that will create opportunities for greater idleness, for 'leaning back', if you will, rather than for 'leaning forward'. Yet, I will also argue that reference to these patterns indicates that there are opportunities for the design and 'integration' of other technologies and applications that will produce what might seem, at first glance, greater complexities and burdens for the home user, but which in practice will facilitate the more effective provision of communication within and to the home.

Bio: Richard Harper is a Senior Researcher in Microsoft's Interactive Systems Group, in Cambridge, England. He has spent twenty years developing sociological tools and techniques for understanding user behaviour that lead to the design of more innovative computer technologies. Before coming to MSR Cambridge, he ran his own digital technology companies, prior to which he led an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Surrey, where he was also appointed the UK's first Professor of Socio-Digital Systems. He commenced his research at Xerox EuroPARC, after completing his PhD at Manchester. He has published over 130 articles and eight books, and has three patents. His books include "The Myth of the Paperless Office" (MIT, 2002), "The Wireless World" (Springer, 2001), "Inside Text: social and design perspectives on SMS" (Kluwer, forthcoming), and "Inside the Smart Home" (Springer, 2002). Richard has three children and lives in Cambridge.

"Automation Intelligence for a Smart Environment"

Sajal Das, University of Texas at Arlington

April 05, 2005

Sajal Das' Homepage

Diane Cook and Sajal Das's Book "Smart Environments : Technology, Protocols and Applications"

Abstract: The MavHome project at the University of Texas at Arlington represents a smart environment as an intelligent agent, which perceives the state of the environment using sensors and acts upon the environment using device controllers. MavHome automatically learns a model of inhabitant behaviors and uses this information to learn a strategy for automating the environment in a way that is customized to the inhabitant. These technologies can improve quality of life in diverse settings including homes, offices, hospitals, and communities. The automated environment reduces manual interaction with the environment, minimizes resource consumption, and provides valuable security and health monitoring. The project is currently being tested in a home environment (the MavPad apartment) and an office environment (the MavLab).

Bio: Dr. Sajal K. Das is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and also the Founding Director of the Center for Research in Wireless Mobility and Networking (CReWMaN) at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). His current research interests include resource and mobility management in wireless and sensor networks, mobile and pervasive computing, wireless multimedia and QoS provisioning, mobile Internet protocols, distributed processing and grid computing. He received a B.Tech. degree in 1983 from Calcutta University, an M.S. degree in 1984 from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and a Ph.D. degree in 1988 from the University of Central Florida, Orlando, all in Computer Science. He is the coauthor of the book "Smart Environments: Technology, Protocols and Applications," published in 2005 by John Wiley.

"Home Lives and Home Technologies: An Ethnographic Perspective"

Scott Mainwaring, Intel Research

April 12, 2005

Abstract: Homes have always been technological places, but in recent times the relationship between the technological realm and the domestic realm is often more of a tense stand-off rather than a seamless embrace (like, for that matter, many types of relationships within real world households!). Conflict was understandable as workplace technologies like PCs were brought into American homes, but even the quintessential home technology -- television -- generates conflicting emotions and questions of appropriateness and place. Drawing upon a number of in-home ethnographic studies conducted over the last 10 years, this talk will explore some of these underlying tensions, the practical solutions to them that different households have arrived at, and their implications for future "digital home" opportunities and challenges.

Bio: Scott Mainwaring is a senior researcher in the People and Practices Research Lab at Intel Research in Hillsboro, Oregon. His research interests include privacy and trust issues in ubiquitous computing, personal and social meanings of technology and their effects on adoption, and cross-cultural issues. He has conducted research on topics such as home networking, personal video recorders, broadband adoption in Korea, urban mobility, and technology "discontents". Prior to joining Intel in 2000, he was a researcher at Interval Research Corp. in Palo Alto, CA for six years, conducting research on lightweight media spaces, tangible user interfaces, online communities, and technology adoptions by cohorts such as aging baby boomers. Scott holds an A.B. in computer science from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Stanford University.

"A Good Place"

Sally Augustin, PlaceCoach, Inc.

April 19, 2005

PlaceCoach, Inc.

Abstract: What makes a place a good place? Environmental psychologists have been working to answer this question. What psychologists have learned has repercussions for the design of homes, workplaces, retail spaces, schools, and other human-made spots as well as the technologies used in these places. A good space not only provides the physical features necessary for a desired activity, but the relevant psychological support as well.

Good places do a variety of good things for people. Good places allow individuals to socialize with others as desired, and provide an opportunity for self-expression, for example. They also give the people in them a sense of control, an ability to recharge, and a chance to reap other psychological benefits.

The space needs of every individual are unique and vary through time, but environmental psychologists have learned enough about effective places to make some generalizations about places that enhance human experience. Join Dr. Sally Augustin, an applied environmental psychologist, for a discussion of the principles underlying the physical forms of good places and the design of technologies for these spaces.

Bio: Sally Augustin is an applied environmental and human factors psychologist. Her consulting practice focuses on ways that products and places can be designed to enhance human experience. Currently, she is the president of PlaceCoach, Inc. and a senior research associate working on product development projects at Design Sciences, Inc. Sally is the senior editor of Research Design Connections, a quarterly publication that translates relevant scientific research findings from "science-ease" into a format immediately useful for architects, interior designers, landscape architects, industrial designers, and facility managers. She is also Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Environmental Design Research Association. She received her PhD in psychology from Claremont Graduate University and her MBA from Northwestern University. She can be reached at

"Cracking Human Activity Recognition at 10 Chips/Square Meter"

Matthai Philipose, Intel Research

April 26, 2005

Abstract: A system that reasons about what day-to-day activity a person is performing has been a long-standing but elusive goal of automated perception. Given the large variety of daily activities and the environments in which they are performed, it is unclear what features to sense, how to sense them, how to relate these features in a model, how to obtain the models for each activity and how to reason appropriately using these models. Pending solutions to these issues, state of the art systems have been restricted to recognizing small numbers of activities performed in relatively constrained ways. In this talk, I will present the System for Human Activity Recognition and Prediction (SHARP) developed at Intel Research Seattle. SHARP promises to be able to recognize large numbers (likely thousands) of activities in practice. I will focus on four key technologies that distinguish SHARP. First, I will show how a novel class of sensors we have developed (based on Radio Frequency Identification) can be deployed at very high density and used to provide extremely detailed information on what objects are in use at any given time. Second, I will show that given these features, many activities can be described effectively using particularly simple probabilistic models. Third, I will show how the simplicity of these models, together with the genericity of daily activities, allows the models to be mined from online common sense sources such as the web with absolutely no human supervision per activity; the generic models can then be customized to each person using simple machine learning techniques. Fourth, I will show how to use such models to rate how well activities are performed, and to provide suggestions on how to improve the performance when appropriate. I will analyze the effectiveness of these techniques using a variety of metrics. As an overall measure, in an experiment with 14 subjects performing roughly 50 activities ranging from brushing teeth to making a sandwich in a real home, SHARP was able to detect activities that occurred 73% of the time, with few false positives. This is joint work with Tanzeem Choudhury, Sunny Consolvo, Ken Fishkin, Dirk Haehnel and Josh Smith of Intel Research Seattle, and collaborators from the University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University and

Bio: Matthai Philipose is a researcher at Intel Research Seattle, where he leads the SHARP (System for Human Activity Recognition and Prediction) project. His primary areas of interest are statistical reasoning and programming languages. He currently works on developing sensors, data models and statistical reasoning techniques for recognizing human activities. He is particularly interested in applying these technologies to the problem of eldercare.

"Mobile Phones, Japanese Youth, and the Re-Placement of Social Contact"

Mizuko Ito, University of Southern California

May 03, 2005

Mizuko Ito's Homepage

Abstract: Personal and portable technologies such as the mobile phone participate in the redefinition of social relations and their connection to place. This has been particularly true with young people who often lack control over their own spaces, having to carve out spheres of ownership within the parental home and the teacher-dominated space of the school. This talk will report on ethnographic fieldwork in Tokyo which documents how Japanese youth are using mobile phones in order to push back at the power geometries of the home and school, and to construct their own peer-based places through mobile communications. I will also relate these youth practices to broader trends in the spread of portable media technologies in Japan, and some shifts towards more person rather than institution-centered models of sociability.

Bio: Mizuko Ito is a cultural anthropologist of technology use, focusing on children and youth’s changing relationships to media and communications. She is one of the PIs on a new research project supported by the MacArthur Foundation, “Kids’ Informal Learning with Digital Media,” a three year ethnographic study of kid-initiated and peer-based forms of engagement with new media. She is also conducting ongoing research on Japanese technoculture, looking at how children in Japan and the US engage with post-Pokemon media mixes. Her research on mobile phone use will be published this year in a book she has co-edited, “Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life.” She is a Research Scientist at the Annenberg Center for Communication, a Teaching Fellow at the Anthropology Department at the University of Southern California, and a Visiting Associate Professor at Keio University in Japan.