E-Graffiti: evaluating real-word use of a context-aware system

J. Burrell and G. K. Gay. E-graffiti: evaluating real-word use of a context-aware system. Interacting with Computers, (14):301–312, 2002. [url]


Much of the previous research in context-aware computing has sought to find a

workable definition of context and to develop systems that could detect and interpret

contextual characteristics of a user’s environment.  However, less time has been spent

studying the usability of these types of systems.  This was the goal of our project.  E-

graffiti is a context-aware application that detects the user’s location on a college campus and display’s text notes to the user based on their location.  Additionally, it allows them to create notes that they can associate with a specific location.  We released E-graffiti to 57 students who were using laptops that could access the campus wireless network.  Their use of E-graffiti was logged in a remote database and they were also required to fill out a questionnaire towards the end of the semester. The lessons learned from the evaluation of E-graffiti point to themes other designers of ubiquitous and context-aware applications may need to address in designing their own systems.  Some of the issues that emerged in the evaluation stage included difficulties with a misleading conceptual model, lack of use due to the reliance on explicit user input, the need for a highly relevant contextual focus, and the potential benefits of rapid, ongoing prototype development in tandem with user evaluation.

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