SeeShell is my new project, an augmented Oyster Card (the RFID-enabled Underground ticket) holder which displays, over time, the journeys a rider has taken. When a user passes their Oyster card (which is inside the SeeShell) over the touch-in point at the gate to the station while they are entering or exiting, the SeeShell, using RFID, senses which station the user just passed through and over time a map of the stations they have visited begins to emerge on their Oyster Card holder. When you purchase an Oyster card it is not necessary that you give up your identity, but you must register the card if you want to purchase a monthly or yearly pass. Registration allows you to recover a lost or stolen card, but obviously comes with the trade-off of having all of your journeys (which are traceable) linked to your name. The Oyster system already tracks users' journeys but there is no convenient way for the users to access or make use of that data. By building SeeShell on top of an already existing system, I hope to show how lived patterns of mobility might be leveraged in new ways and placed back into the hands of their creators. Look for more information here soon!
undersound is a collaborative design project between myself, Arianna Bassoli, and Karen Martin. Currently in the implementation phase, undersound is a new type of experience, an interface that is on your mobile phone and in the Underground stations you pass through every day. It is part personal, part public and all about the Tube. undersound is a way of listening to, distributing and affecting the flow of music in the Underground that goes beyond just the music itself. It allows you to see your journeys, the people around you, and the tube itself in a new light. Of course it isn't yet up and running in the Tube, but we are getting the demo ready in hopes that Transport for London will be interested.
nimio is a tangible interface / ambient display which I designed along with Amanda Williams. It is a system comprised of a series of physical objects designed as individual playthings, but wirelessly networked via RF to act as both input and output devices for a collective visualization of distributed activity. These hand-held, translucent silicone toys have embedded sensors (for input) and 3 colors of LEDs (for output) which allow them to be reactive to both sound and touch. Action around one of the nimios will cause the others to glow in different patterns and colors. The interaction design is deliberately open-ended, in order to allow the emergence of distinctive patterns of collaborative engagement in real groups. It was up and running for 6 months in the offices of the administrative group of a technology institute and is currently undergoing some updates so it can be redeployed with another group.
Aesthetic Journeys is an ethnographic study of the London Underground that I undertook while on a summer internship with the People and Practices Research group at Intel. During the course of this project we began to see the importance of the aesthetic, rather than the purely functional, aspects of riding the tube. A paper is forthcoming and a complete website is on it's way.
Recently I have helped to run a series of workshops on the theme of In-Between-Ness with Arianna Bassoli and Karen Martin. These interactive workshops are targetted to designers, computer and social scientists alike. Through collaborative fieldwork, design and discussion we attempt to deepen our understandings of conepts such as public waiting [see: Why Wait?], transitional spaces [see: Betwixt], and, yes, public toilets [see: A Public (in)Convenience].
Alternative Mobilities [Who Rides the Bus and Why Do We Care?] is an ethnographic study of the Orange County public transportation system which I undertook with my colleague David Nguyen. In our study we were struck by the overwhelming diversity of the ways in which people ride the bus - and this in turn leads to a re-thinking of what "design for mobility" might be. We are working on a long paper about the study but you can get more information by reading this position paper.
Additionally I have recently written a paper about cultural logics, space, information and all sorts of fun stuff. A compliment to that is in the works but yet to be completed. And finally, I was one of the organizers for a workshop at CHI 2006 about sexuality and HCI, . We are hoping to go further with that project by editing a special issue on that topic. If you are interested, let me know.
To view a selection of works from my professional design portfolio please click here.
For lack of a better description I have decided to go with "interaction desginer" for the purposes of describing what I do. Any title highlights some aspects of what one does while obscuring others, so for the longer version of my research interests you will have to read on.
I received a B.A. in both Computer Science and Philosophy, from Boston University in 2002. After that I went on to join the Computer Science Ph.D. program at BU. While I was there I was a member of 3 groups: one for a ubiquitous computing environment, one for computer vision, and one for supercomputing. Despite all the excitement and variety I ended up taking my Master's and leaving after 2 years in the middle of 2004. Around then I went to work for a little while with a particle physics group which was a satellite of ETH Zürich located at the Università della Svizzera Italiana on a project called CP2K. There I did some very code-heavy design for a text-based interface, but mostly I learned about physics, biology and modelling and enjoyed life in Lugano.
Then in January of 2005 I joined the Informatics department of the University of California, Irvine as a staff researcher and in the summer enrolled as a Ph.D. student. My background and interests which seem disconnected [at best] to many people were happily embraced by my advisor Paul Dourish. What I am working on now goes by many names: ubiquitous computing, human-computer interaction, etc. My interests can be said to fall in two distinct, but deeply related, categories. First, I am interested in the design of new technologies, especially ones which foster, explore and augment social connectivity. I might even argue that any well designed technology has one [more often all] of these properties, but you will have to catch me in person for that. Specficially I do work in the design of what are termed "tangible interfaces" and "ambient displays" these two taken together often fall under the category of "augmented environments," but no matter how it is labelled I am basically interested in designing real things that real people can interact with and through. Secondly, I am interested in way in which technology functions in society. Broadly, this means I like to study people and how they use things. More precisely, both of my these categories support each other. It is through the study of people in the world that my designs arise, and these designs should [in theory] affect the way in which technology figures into society. Why interaction designer? Because I fancy myself as someone who makes things that shape interactions.