Making Sense of Sensing Systems

Five Questions for Designers and Researchers

Victoria Bellotti, Maribeth Back, W. Keith Edwards, Rebecca E. Grinter, Austin Henderson, and Cristina Lopes

This paper borrows ideas from social science to inform the design of novel “sensing” user-interfaces for computing technology. Specifically, we present five design challenges inspired by analysis of human-human communication that are mundanely addressed by traditional graphical user interface designs (GUIs). Although classic GUI conventions allow us to finesse these questions, recent research into innovative interaction techniques such as ‘Ubiquitous Computing’ and ‘Tangible Interfaces’ has begun to expose the interaction challenges and problems they pose. By making them explicit we open a discourse on how an approach similar to that used by social scientists in studying human-human interaction might inform the design of novel interaction mechanisms that can be used to handle human-computer communication accomplishments.

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