Ambient Communication Experience (ACE), Information Interaction in Design Space

Ambient Communication Experience (ACE), Information Interaction in Design Space

Rosaleen Hegarty (University of Ulster, Northern Ireland), Tom Lunney (University of Ulster, Northern Ireland), Kevin Curran (University of Ulster, Northern Ireland) and Maurice Mulvenna (University of Ulster, Northern Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-549-0.ch014
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A changing computing landscape is expected to sense the physical world yet remain concealed within its very infrastructure to provide virtual services which are discreetly networked, omnipresent yet non-intrusive. Ambient Information Systems (AIS), permit a mode of expression that can easily exist at the level of subconscious realisation. This research focuses on the development of an Ambient Communication Experience (ACE) system. ACE is a synchronisation framework to provide co-ordinated connectivity across various environmentally distributed devices via sensor data discovery. The intention is to facilitate location-independent and application-responsive screening for the user, leading to the concept of technologically integrated spaces. The aim is to deliver contextual information without the need for direct user manipulation, and engagement at the level of peripheral perception.
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Mankoff and Anind (2003) define the development of ubiquity as relying on the concept of user periphery; as any individual’s full attention can only be factored to a few applications at any given time. Ambient Information Systems (AIS) enable a classification of communication that can easily exist at a level of subliminal perception. Principles of cognition are usually aggregated under the main auditory, visual and often innovative tactile sensory impetus. AIS are designed principally for the aesthetic transmission of non-critical information. Several definitions for ambient information systems have been suggested in the relevant literature and they embody concepts such as glanceable displays, slow technology, calm technology through to ambient and peripheral displays and informative art systems (IAS) (Hazelwood, Coyle, Pousman & Lim, 2008). These descriptive terms have as a common theme ‘information,’ information that is delivered and displayed effortlessly, without distracting the user from a primary task (Streitz, Rocker, Prante, Alphen, Stenzel & Magerkurth, 2005). Issues that have arisen in this area of AIS research concerning the user’s psychological attitudes towards displays and their opinions towards technologically rich spaces include the observer’s primary concern over the perception of the information, or the perception of the complexity of the information. There exists a fear of information processing overload and a concern over sensitivity of information especially in public space. In addition to the aforementioned there is a regard for ones capability to maintain awareness of dynamic changes, in facilitating human computer interactions that are socially acceptable (Ferscha, 2007). Ishii affirms that the information that is provided to these displays is relevant only at arbitrary points in time originating from disparate geographically distributed locations (Ishii & Ullmer, 1997).

Principles of interpretive cognition and the success of ambient displays, or ambient information systems are characterised as having the capacity to modify the awareness of the user. In turn these systems have the potential to adapt the behaviour of individuals based on the embodied information of the display. Often ambient information bears relevance to only a few individuals, at any given time; therefore the consideration of aesthetics is elementary to such designs, especially when incorporated in work spaces. Ferscha, Emsenhuber, Schmitzberger and Thon (2006) place critical importance on the values of ‘purpose’, ‘contextual relevance’ and ‘perceivable cohesion’ in the conceptual structuring of awareness information. Ambient systems should remain secondary to the primary work assignment, yet still be easily comprehendible. Within the context of moving information from the periphery to the centre, another important factor is that of user cognitive state (Mankoff & Anind, 2003). Cognitive state is reflective of the users’ in situ and the systems ability to augment their consciousness through sensory perception and cognitive behavioural interactions. System activity is operating on users’ multimodal senses below the threshold of consciousness, requiring only subconscious recognition (Baars & Mc Govern, 1996). Screen based media and associated physical architectural space provide the medium for investigative studies in this area. The behavioural characteristics (as defined by Pousman & Stasko, 2006) of ambient information systems rely on the presentation of non-critical information and the successful transmission of its intended message, though subtle. The flow of information and the concentration of the user must be fluid in that what was once peripheral can become central and can glide on this property within the AIS schema as the content is reflected implicitly at the periphery of human focus. Real objects and tangible architectural space provide the medium for this message of ambient information. AIS should provide non-distracting subtle changes reflecting information updates. In essence AIS systems should be aesthetically pleasing and environmentally suitable (Pousman & Stasko, 2006).

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