Diffusion of radio frequency identification (RFID) promises to boost the added value of assistive technologies for mobile users. Visually impaired people may benefit from RFID-based applications that support users in maintaining “spatial orientation” (Mann, 2004) through provision of information on where they are, and a description of what lies in their surroundings. To investigate this issue, we have integrated our development tool for mobile device, (namely: MADE, Bellotti, Berta, De Gloria, & Margarone, 2003), with a complete support for RFID tag detection, and implemented an RFID-enabled location-aware tour-guide. We have evaluated the guide in an ecological context (fully operational application, real users, real context of use (Abowd & Mynatt, 2000)) during the EuroFlora 2006 international exhibition (EuroFlora). In this chapter, we describe the MADE enhancement to support RFID-based applications, present the main concepts of the interaction modalities we have designed in order to support visually impaired users, and discuss results from our field experience.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Ecological Context: The ecological context is a set of conditions for a user test experiment that gives it a degree of validity. An experiment with real users to possess ecological validity must use methods, materials, and settings that approximate the real-life situation that is under study.
Mobile Tourist Guide: A mobile tourist guide is a software application with an intuitive interface, that provides users with multimedia information when and where needed during their visit to museums, city centres, parks, and so forth. Such an application runs on PDA-type terminals or on cellular phones, and could be augmented with GPRS (general packet radio service), GPS (global positioning system), and Bluetooth wireless technology. The guide allows tourists to plan routes according to preferences and ambient conditions (weather, timetables, sites of special interest, etc).
Chi-Square Test: The Chi-square is a test of statistical significance for bivariate tabular analysis (crossbreaks). This test provides the degree of confidence we can have in accepting or rejecting a hypothesis.
Human-Computer Interaction: Human–computer interaction (HCI), also called man-machine interaction (MMI) or computer–human interaction (CHI), is the research field that is focused on the interaction modalities between users and computers (interface). It is a multidisciplinary subject, relating to computer science and psychology.
Radio Frequency Identification: Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an automatic identification method based on storing and remotely retrieving data using small and cheap devices called RFID tags or transponders. An RFID tag is an object that can be attached to objects, products, or persons to identification using radio waves. Passive tags (with a few centimeter range of sensitivity) require no internal power source, whereas active tags (with more long range of sensitivity, 100 meters) require a power source.
Location-Aware Computing: Location-aware computing is a technology that uses the location of people and objects to derive contextual information with which to enhance the application behaviour. There are two ways to acquire information about user context: requiring the user to specify it or by monitoring users and computer activity. Sensor technology, such as RFID, could enable mobile devices to extract information from user position automatically.
User-Centric Design: User-centric design is a design process that aims at realizing products that meet users’ expectations. The key idea of this design methodology is to start the design strategy taking into account the user’s perspective.