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Activity-Based Prototyping of Ubicomp Applications for Long-Lived, Everyday Human Activities
Yang Li1 & James A. Landay1, 2 1 2 Computer Science and Engineering Intel Research Seattle DUB Group, University of Washington 1100 NE 45th Street, Suite 600 Seattle, WA 98195-2350 Seattle, WA 98105 {yangli, landay}

We designed an activity-basedprototyping process realized in the ActivityDesigner system that combines the theoretical framework of Activity-Centered Design with traditional iterative design. This process allows designers to leverage human activities as first class objects for design and is supported in ActivityDesigner by three novel features. First, this tool allows designers to model activities based on concrete scenarioscollected from everyday lives. The models form a context for design and computational constructs for creating functional prototypes. Second, it allows designers to prototype interaction behaviors based on activity streams spanning time. Third, it allows designers to easily test these prototypes with real users continuously, in situ. We have garnered positive feedback from a series of laboratory userstudies and several case studies in which ActivityDesigner was used in realistic design situations. ActivityDesigner was able to effectively streamline a ubicomp design process, and it allowed creating realistic ubicomp application prototypes at a low cost and testing them in everyday lives over an extended period.
ACM Classification Keywords

contexts of everyday life [3, 4, 15, 18, 30]. Inparticular, Activity-Centered Design (ACD) has shown promise by encouraging designers to focus on evolving high-level human activities and by offering an activity-centric view of human-computer interaction [4, 15, 18]. ACD uses a larger unit (long-term, high-level activities such as staying fit) for analysis and design than simple tasks (such as using a treadmill), which have been the focus oftraditional approaches. This allows rich everyday context to be systematically incorporated into designs and promises better results by orienting designs towards human needs. ACD, however, is largely a set of perspectives and concepts. It is still an art to apply it in practice. In addition, there has been little work in developing this conceptual approach into a tangible ubicomp design process andproviding computational tools to support it. This seriously hinders the application of a valuable methodology that has the potential to make a significant impact on ubicomp. Our goal is to support activity-centered ubicomp design by creating and experimenting with an activity-based ubicomp prototyping process (see Figure 1) and providing the appropriate tool support for that process. Activity-basedprototyping combines the theoretical framework of ACD with traditional iterative design.
Research Challenges

H.5.2 [User Interfaces]: Prototyping; D.2.2 [Design Tools and Techniques]: User interfaces.
Author Keywords

Ubiquitous computing, activity-centered design, rapid prototyping, in situ testing, context-aware.

The shift of focus from tasks to activities raises three newresearch challenges for activity-based ubicomp prototyping.

Ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) promises to support our everyday activities by weaving computing power into the fabric of everyday life [32]. However, designing for the complex, dynamic real world poses challenges that the well-understood, desktop environment does not [25]. There has been increasing interest in new design methodologiesfor ubicomp applications that involve rich, ever-changing
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