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CN19: Inspiring Mobile Interaction Design

Quick Facts

Time: Wednesday, 14 April 2010, 14:30 to 18:00
Units: 2
Organizers: Matt Jones, Gary Mardsen


This course comprehensively covers important mobile interaction opportunities and challenges, key design approaches, and provides specific guidance for emerging application areas. The course is an ideal forum for attendees to gain insight into state-of-art technologies and design practices; going way-beyond ‘usability’ issues, it surveys and assesses the efforts of the mobile HCI community over the last ten years.


This course will appeal to a broad audience. Some will be novices to the field of mobile interactive service and device design; others will be developers and researchers with experience in producing innovative work themselves. The material will also be accessible to those involved in non-technical roles such as mobile analysts and strategists.


This course has been evolving over the past 6 years. A version of it was first presented at MediaLab South Pacific (New Zealand) in 2003. There were around 30 attendees from industrial organsiations (Lucent, Vodafone, Kodak, Telstra Clear etc). Material was also used during the “Mobile Usability” course at Mobile Commerce World 2003 (Melbourne, Australia) when Matt Jones presented with Scott Jenson (now of Google Mobile). There were 25 attendees mostly from commercial research and development divisions. In 2004, we ran a whole day version of the course at the University of South Africa attended by approximately 20 reseachers. The course was presented at Mobile HCI in 2005 in Saltzburg: it attracted the largest number of attendees in the course programme (20) and was highly rated in a post-workshop evaluation carried out by the conference organisers. In 2007 it was presented at CHI 2007 with approximately 100 participants; at CHI 2008 over 150 people registered for the course; at CHI 2009, the course was one of most popular. For 2010, the course has been updated with new examples and specific consideration of : emerging interaction paradigms (such as surface-less mobile computing); platforms (such as Android) for prototyping; and, challenging user contexts (the presenters are running an invited workshop at ACM Ubicomp in Sept 2009 on marginalised and emerging world users and will report on this state-of-art research into the course)


  • Introduction to course.
  • Mobile possibilities. Here, we consider what mobiles are, could and should be. Using case examples we explore the following topics:
    - Information vs. communication
    - Appliances vs. Swiss-Army Knives
    - Disposable vs. Cherished Devices
    - Impoverished interfaces vs. impoverishing design
    This session will also consider a range of interaction technologies including innovations in auditory and haptic devices.
  • Use, usabiity and user experience. Here we explore the characteristics of successful products: from utility to user experience; function to fun. We will provide examples and design exercises to illustrate the issues.
  • Impacting the community; Impacting the world. We end the course by broadening the participants’ perspectives. Using our, and other researchers experience of the developing world, we look at the challenges of designing for a range of cultures and contexts. There is much buzz about “mobile communities”; our aim is to consider some meaningful examples and approaches to developing them.


  • Matt Jones is a Professor in Computer Science at the Future Interaction Technology Lab, Swansea. He has also recently been Nokia Visiting Fellow (based in Finland) working on helping to define the mobile future. He has worked on mobile interaction issues for the past twelve years and has published a large number of articles in this area. He has had many collaborations and interactions with major handset and service developers including Orange, Reuters, BT Cellnet, Nokia and Adaptive Info. He is an editor of the International Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing and on the steering committee for the Mobile HCI conference series. He is the co-author (with Gary) of Mobile Interaction Design (John Wiley & Sons, 2006). Matt has given a large number of talks to researchers, practitioners and the general public: for example, he is gave a keynote address at the Mobile HCI Conference in Finland (Sept 06) and delivered a Royal Institution talk in July 06 to a general audience. More information at: www.undofuture.com
  • Gary is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. In 2007 he was awarded the ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award. Besides his academic interests in designing interaction for mobile computers, a large part of his time is spent in examining how mobile computers can be used for upliftment in the developing world. He has given numerous public talks on mobile technology, and written many articles for academic and popular publications. He has also run tutorials and consulted widely on mobile technology issues for a number of companies.