23 September 2008

Task-based user experience for home networks and smart spaces

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Homebird
Nokia Research Center published a technical report, entitled “Homebird – Task-based User Experience for Home Networks and Smart Spaces”.

Contemporary wireless networks in people’s homes are already enabling consumer electronics devices to communicate with each other. Standards like Universal Plug and Play are being developed for interoperability between devices from different manufacturers. For example, a digital media player device is able to display video clips from a home PC or play music from portable devices. Development of the user experience is also needed to have devices perform tasks in concert. Homebird is a demonstration of a task- based user experience on a mobile phone. It discovers features of other devices automatically and suggests to the user that certain tasks can be performed together with those devices.

This approach cuts down the number of steps needed to perform common tasks, and also makes it easier for users to find out what can be done in a particular environment. The implementation architecture makes it easy to add new tasks, and they can also have the phone perform actions in the background without user interaction. The task-based approach was evaluated with a small user study, and participants found it easy to understand and useful, if they were offered tasks that suit their daily life.

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