Ambient Displays in Academic Settings: Avoiding their Underutilization

Ambient Displays in Academic Settings: Avoiding their Underutilization

Umar Rashid (University College Dublin, Ireland) and Aaron Quigley (University College Dublin, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-549-0.ch011
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This work reports on the findings of a case study examining the use of ambient information displays in an indoor academic setting. Using a questionnaire-based survey, we collect experiences and expectations of the viewers who are based on different floors of the same building. Based on the survey feedback, we offer some design principles to avoid the underutilization of peripheral displays and make the most of their potential in indoor environments.
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Survey Methodology

The Complex and Adaptive Systems Laboratory (CASL) is a collaborative research laboratory at University College Dublin, Ireland. It is situated in a five-story building and hosts members from various disciplines. These include academic staff, post-doctoral researchers, postgraduate students as well as human resource staff. In addition, there are also undergraduate students based here for 3-months long internship during the summer. At present, there are five large displays installed in the CASL, one on each floor of the building. Each display is of size 32” and shows, among other information, the profiles of staff members (i.e. their university web pages), research images, and a news feed, as shown in Figure 1(a), in a repeated loop of 10-seconds duration.

Figure 1.

(a) Ambient display in CASL (b) design and layout of the display


We conducted a questionnaire-based survey to explore the ways in which CASL members are currently using the displays in the building. The survey involved 59 participants in the age group of 17-50 who were based on different floors of the building. Among the participants, 28 were postgraduate students, 3 academics, 11 post-doctoral fellows, 8 undergraduate students and 9 administration staff. Before completing the questionnaire, each participant was given an overview on the purpose of survey. The participants were first asked to draw the design and layout of the display from memory without looking at it akin to the diagram show in Figure 1(b). The next section of questionnaire was aimed at collecting their current experiences with the displays followed by their expectations and suggestions for improving these experiences. After completing the questionnaire, the first author held a 5-10 minutes long discussion with each participant to get a better understanding of their views. On average, each participant spent 20-25 minutes with the questionnaire and post-questionnaire discussion. The survey lasted for seven days and all participants were given a candy as a gratuity.

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