Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tiramisu: a socio-technical sensing system

Title: Tiramisu: a socio-technical sensing system (watch the video here)
Speaker: John Zimmerman (HCII, CMU)
Date: Wednesday, November 7th
Time: 12-1pm
Room: GHC 6501

Twenty years ago ubiquitous computing promised a bright future full of intelligent environments. Transit AVL systems, which detect the location of vehicles and provide real-time arrival information, are one example where this vision has come true. These systems improve transit by reducing uncertainty. However, their deployment is not ubiquitous because of high costs.

The recent rise of mobile and social computing offers a new approach to building large-scale sensing systems, on that combines people and their mobile phones as sensors. These socio-technical systems have the human ability to interpret unfolding situations. However, they suffer from the problems of sparseness, due to the fact that people are not always present in the places where sensing is needed, and because people can introduce errors into the system.

To better understand when to how to design socio-technical systems, we built Tiramisu, a mobile app that crowd sources a real-time arrival information system by getting transit riders to share location traces when commuting. We deployed this system for 10 months and collected data on its use. We had more than 10,000 different users who had almost 300,000 sessions with our app and shared nearly 30,000 location traces. In this talk, I provide an overview of the Tiramisu design, share findings from our deployment, and reflect on what we have learned.

John Zimmerman is an interaction designer and researcher with a joint appointment as an Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon’s HCI Institute and School of Design. His research has four main themes: (i) the application of possession attachment theory in the design of interactive products and services; (ii) the design of mixed initiative systems that put the power of machine learning into the hands of end-users; (iii) research through design as a research approach in HCI; and (iv) the use of social computing and service design to transform public services. John teaches classes on HCI methods, interaction design, design theory, and service design for mobile services. Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon, he worked at Philips Research, investigating future interactive TV products and services.

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