Monday, December 6, 2010

'Ethics, logs & videotape'. Large-scale ethics workshop at CHI2011

App stores have made distribution of research apps to thousands of users incredibly easy. There is more user-generated content around than we can manage to analyze; Millions of tweets, public status updates and shared locations are waiting for us. These are huge opportunities, but researchers now also run into some interesting ethical questions.

Procedures, regulations and ethics - especially in an international and intercultural setting - are unclear and the notion of informed consent is changing. Can we just use all data that is out there? Is someone's tweet intended to be quoted in a research paper? How do we deal with permissions if we use data from users of freely available applications? Do we need to tell people about all our research plans? Is anyone downloading our app a participant?

Asking a million users for a signed consent form is not a feasible option. Notices and messages in apps telling people about our research plans will probably be skipped. If they are read, there is no guarantee they are actually understood. Sometimes researchers cannot even know who the people providing content for their studies are.

Not studies would be missing a huge opportunity, but a discussion is in order. Do we have added responsibilities if we log people’s actions? Can we always be sure there will be no adverse effects for our unwitting ‘participants’?

Join us for a discussion at the CHI2011 workshop we're co-organizing in Vancouver, Saturday May 7th: ETHICS, LOGS, and VIDEOTAPE: Ethics in Large Scale User Trials and User Generated Content.

Position papers due January 14, 2011.
Co-organised by Donald McMillan, Alistair Morrison, Matthew Chalmers (Univ. Glasgow), Henriette Cramer, Mattias Rost (Mobile Life), Wendy Mackay (Univ. Paris Sud) and Adam Greenfield.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Meet us at NordiCHI'10!

Alex Taylor (Microsoft Research), Mattias Jacobsson, Ylva Fernaeus and Sara Ljungblad are organizing the:
2nd International DESIGNING ROBOTIC ARTEFACTS WITH USER- AND EXPERIENCE-CENTRED PERSPECTIVES We look forward to have lively discussions about existing myths in robotic designs, and what we as researchers and designers consider to be down-to earth research in the field! The Workshop is held on Oct 16, Sunday, at Reykjavik University.

SHORT PAPER presented on Tuesday Oct 19 at 15:00 in room H:
Blue-Sky and Down-to-Earth: How Analogous Practices can Support the User-centred Design Process, (Sara Ljungblad and Clint Heyer, ABB)
See you at NordiCHI'10!

Robots as our future companions?

32 robot researchers met up at Mobile Life Centre and SICS to discuss their current research on how people can live with robots and interactive agents in the future. The meeting is held within the EU project LIREC (Living with Robots and Interactive Companions), a collaboration between six universities, two research institutes and two companies spread across 7 European countries. The project also includes experts in etology, studying peoples relations to dogs and how this knowledge can be transferred into robot design.

Mattias Jacobsson, Ylva Fernaeus, Henriette Cramer, Lars Erik Holmquist and Sara Ljungblad (WP10 leader) from Mobile Life are contributing to the project. We are conducting studies of robots in naturalistic environments, collaborating with swedish startup robot companies, and are exploring user-centred robotic design. Read more about  LIREC activites at SICS.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

UbiComp 2010

The whole Future Applications Lab will attend UbiComp 2010 in Copenhagen, Denmark on September 26-29! We will present two posters, GeoLocation in the Mobile Web Browser and φ²: Exploring physical Check-Ins for Location-Based Services and organize the workshop Research in the large. We hope to see you there!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mobile Mash-ups and a tribute to Marc Weiser at APPNATION

APPNATION is a new conference and exposition focusing on the burgeoning consumer applications economy. It will focus on social and mobile apps across all devices and platforms and the editorial focus will be on the business conversation including monetization, new media business models, advertising and marketing best practices, and consumer insights and analytics. APPNATION will take place September 13-14 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.

Of particular interest is the closing keynote event:

A Tribute to Mark Weiser, the Father of Ubiquitous Computing, and the Rise of the Mobile Mash-Up

  • Lars Erik Holmquist, Mobile Life Centre, Swedish Institute of Computer Science
  • Mike Kuniavsky, Orange Cone, author of Smart Things: Ubiquitous Computing User Experience Design
  • Bo Begole, Principal Scientist and Manager of the Ubiquitous Computing Area, Palo Alto Research Center
  • Mattias Rost, Mobile Life Centre, Swedish Institute of Computer Science

The panel will look back at the dawn of ubiquitous computing at PARC, and ahead with the rise of mobile apps and beyond.

The conference can offer a discounted academic rate with 50% off the regular fee for full conference passes ($397 net cost). Simply go to online registration at and use the code: DIFC50

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Most Wanted at Ung08

We have finished study of Portrait Catalog under the disguise as Most Wanted during the Ung08 youth festival! The festival lasted four 5 days during which a countless number of teenagers visited the tent, more than 400 had their picture taken and around 300 installed the app!
We are now analysing the data from the study.

Monday, August 30, 2010

DIS 2010 Conference

Mattias Jacobsson, Ylva Fernaeus and Rob Tieben made a rendezvous in Aarhus, Denmark where they presented the paper entitled "The Look, the Feel and the Action: Making Sets of ActDresses for Robotic Movement" at the Designing Interactive Systems conference. Plenty of amazing research were presented together with live demonstrations of art and technology pieces e.g. lumiBots. The contrasting artistic music like the improvisational jazz and the ambient live band during the wonderful -probably the best in the world- conference dinner are things that attendees will remember for quite some time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Be the Most Wanted at Ung 08!

FAL and Kulturskolan are running a mobile mugshot competition for youths 13-19 years at the Ung 08 festival! You can get your photo taken and share it using our mobile app, the Portrait Catalog. The best networker (who shares the most pictures) will win a phone from our partner Sony Ericsson. The event runs until Saturday, July 14. Here are some pictures from the Most Wanted tent in Kungsträdgården, Stockholm...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Portrait Catalog at Ung 08

The Portrait Catalog is a mobile phone app that lets you share a picture of yourself with your friends. The twist is that you can only get a picture directly from another person via Bluetooth, so to collect pictures you have to meet people in real life! We will be giving away the Portrait Catalog at the Ung 08 festival, a 5-day event for youths between 13 and 19 organized by the City of Stockholm. Users will also have a chance to get their personal photo taken, and share this through Facebook and become the festival's Most Wanted. To encourage the use of the app we are giving away Sony Ericsson Xperia phones as the prize for the coolest photo and for the best networker - the person who has shared the most photos during the festival! You can find us at Kungsträdgården in Stockholm during August 8 to 14.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lecture on Designing Digital Artifacts

Lars Erik Holmquist recently held a remote lecture on Designing Digital Artifacts, as part of the course Advanced Contextual Design at Keio University. The lecture was recorded (as PowerPoint slideshow with voiceover) and is now available for viewing in two 30-minute segments. You can view the lectures by clicking on the links below, or download the files to view later.

The first part of the lecture introduces the concept of digital artifacts and puts in in the context of the development of interactive and embedded computing systems.

The second part gives a number of examples of digital artifacts designed by the author and collaborators, drawn from over ten years of research.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stockholm LOVE Digital Flowerwall

Between 6th and 19th of June we will present the Digital Flowerwall at the Stockholm LOVE festival together with KTH. Please come and visit us at the ICT pavilion set up at "Skeppsbron" and try it out! Kudos to GoldWare for providing additional hardware.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Age of the Mobile Mash-Up

Lars Erik Holmquist has a guest post at CrunchGear (also featured on TechCrunch) about the past, present and future of mobile and ubiquitous computing. It relates ubicomp research - including many FAL projects - to the possibilities that have opened up with new infrastructures, and argues that the rate of innovation in mobile services is about to take a quantum leap. Follow the link to read the whole article:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Foursquare + Spotify = Spotisquare!

Mobile 2.0 just released Spotisquare - a mobile web app that connects music to places!

Some places just remind us of a specific song, sometimes we feel places could use a little music. The idea is to have people share what music fits a place and the people that go there. Beats to navigate the city centre, some nice ambient to go with that scenic view? Or maybe you want to share that awesome band you saw at that one club? Life needs a beat. By making collaborative playlists anyone can express their experience of a place using music.

Spotisquare connects Foursquare venues with Spotify playlists. It is a mobile web app that adds music to places. Point your mobile browser to You can just use Spotisquare to check-in on Foursquare, but it also connects Foursquare venues with Spotify playlists. When you find a venue that has a Spotify playlist, you can listen to it in Spotify, and also add your own songs to it. You can add a playlist to a venue with our connector.

Monday, May 24, 2010

φ² scanner for foursquare released!

Mobile 2.0's excellent intern Sebastian Büttner just released φ² Scanner, an Android app to check-in using barcode stickers to foursquare.

Mobile 2.0's φ² project explores different ways of physical check-ins for location-based services and the connection between ‘the visible and virtual’. This is all part of Mobile 2.0's bigger location-based services project, which involves both user studies on people's usage of existing services (Foursquare, Gowalla, Latitude, Brightkite, etc), and development of new concepts for location-based services (such as making hidden services visible at physical locations).

Download the first φ² app & generate your own barcodes at

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Digital Flowerwall in the spotlight

Since early May Autonomous Wallpaper, or the “Digital Flowerwall” as we would like to refer to it nowdays, is being exhibited here in Kista at the newly inaugurated Digital Arts Centre (DAC). This project has been a bit cold for a while, but has recently attracted renewed attention and will be demonstrated during the Stockholm LOVE festival! In a nutshell people can send digital pictures from their mobile devices to the wall (via Bluetooth or mail), and then plant a seed on the screen (using a pen) that will grow into a beautiful flower that is based on the sent picture.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Research in the large!

We’re organising a workshop on Research in the Large: using app stores, markets and other wide distribution channels in research at UbiComp2010, Sept 26th in Copenhagen, (with an associated special issue for IJMHCI).

Distribution of mobile applications has been greatly simplified by mobile app stores and markets. Both lone developers and large research and development teams can now relatively easily reach wide audiences. This provides a huge opportunity for both iterative development and gathering research data. However, an overview of successful strategies and ways to overcome the challenges inherent to wide deployment in a research context is not yet available. How do we need to adapt evaluation and research methods? How do we address validity & ethical concerns when doing research on such a large scale? As researchers from both industry and academia we need to share our experiences so we can make the most of this opportunity.

Henriette Cramer, Mattias Rost and Nicolas Belloni (FAL/Mobile 2.0), together with Frank Bentley (Motorola) and Didier Chincholle (Ericsson) are organising a workshop at UbiComp2010 to do exactly that. Go check out the workshop call, send us your position paper and/or contribute to the associated special issue of the International Journal of Mobile HCI. More info at

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Business Models in the Mobile Ecosystem

On June 13th, Xia Rue Xue will present the paper titled "Business Models in the Mobile Ecosystem" at the Global Mobility Roundtable conference in Athens, Greece. The paper is the result of Xia's Master thesis, and is an analysis of current business models in the mobile ecosystem. It uses case studies from a set of Scandinavian companies with different roles; a device manufacturer, a network operator, and a set of small startups focusing on the mobile market. The companies' business models are described and the relationships with other stakeholders in the mobile ecosystem.
Come to the conference and discuss the paper, and other interesting topics in Athens. The conference is from 13th-15th of June.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Intern: Sebastian Büttner

Since two weeks Sebastian Büttner is working with us in the Mobile 2.0 group. Sebastian is a student of the German Darmstadt University of Technology. He will work on his 'diploma thesis' at FAL & Mobile Life Centre until the end of September. He will be focusing on new concepts for location-based services, in particular by integrating objects, tagged with barcodes or RFIDs into location based services to improve those and make them easier to use.
We're all quite excited to see what he'll come up with - physical check-ins, revolutionary integration of the 'real and virtual'? We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Talking about games technology!

Two of us involved in the Wii Science project will be presenting our findings and concerns (so far) in the project at the workshop "Video Games as Research Instruments", to be held at CHI2010 in Atlanta, GA (USA). The Wii Science project is a collaboration with Stanford University together with two primary schools, one in Stockholm, Sweden and one in Palo Alto, USA. In the project, we're looking into how we can use the technology in the Wii Remote to create tools for children to use when they familiarize themselves with the practice of scientific experimentation when i.e. learning about force, energy, kinetic, momentum etc. With the Wii Remote, we not only have the opportunity to use existing solutions that we can modify and write software for, but also design for physical exploration in interesting ways!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

GeoChat on Ericsson Labs

GeoChat for Android just made its appearance on Ericsson Labs website. Ericsson Research who run Ericsson Labs have rebuilt our Java ME version of GeoChat for Android to utilise their enabler APIs. Their version is now instead using Mobile Java Communication Framework, and their own Maps API.

GeoChat is a map based chat application that let you create chat rooms over geographical regions on a map. In order to talk to people also interested in a particular location can join in and chat with a chat room put at this location. By placing the chat rooms at different zoom levels the chat rooms can have different size, where a chat room on street level can symbolize a particular café, and a room on country level can symbolize a whole country.

A video of GeoChat can be found here, and the Android version can be found on Ericsson Labs website.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Announcing two doctoral student positions in Media Technology at Södertörn University

Here is a chance to work at Södertörn University in close collaboration with FAL and the Mobile Life Centre! Lars Erik Holmquist is also a professor in Media Technology and will hire a Ph.D. student to work on Mobile Media - follow this link to read the full announcement. The relevant position to apply for is Position 2 in the announcement!

Note: The last day for application has been extended to April 30!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Human-Robot Interaction in Osaka, Japan

This week several FAL members are attending Human-Robot Interaction 2010 in Osaka. Henriette was co-organizer of the HRI Pioneers Workshop for new researchers in the field, and also presented a poster on attitudes towards robots. Ylva presented a paper in the Collaborations with the Arts Workshop, together with artist Ulla West. Also at this workshop, Lars Erik organized a brainstorm session. Finally, Rob Tieben's video on ActDresses was featured in the video program.

One highlight was the presentations by Japanese companies on the latest robot technology, including Sanrio subsidiary Kokoro, which manufactures many well-known robots, including the Geminoid (together with Osaka University and ATR) and HRP-4c (together with AIST). Can the lifelike Hello Kitty robot be far off? Another highlight was the keynote speech by Kazuhiro Kosuge on the Dance Partner Robot, in which he compared human-robot interaction to a dance with a robot follower reading the human lead. Also, the panel on Social Responsibility in Human-Robot Interaction with Hiroshi Ishiguro, Illah Nourbakhsh, Peter Kahn and Vanessa Evers raised a lot of interesting questions on how robots are presented to the general public and the future we claim to be building as robot researchers.

Below are some pictures of the robots present at the conference reception. The picture above shows the human-robot play we got to see in a traditional Japanese theatre.

Portrait Catalog on Video

In the following video Mattias Rost is presenting and demoing a mobile application called Portrait Catalog. Portrait Catalog is an application for sharing and collecting portrait photos of friends. The portraits are sent over Bluetooth from one person to the other, but portraits cannot be forwarded once received. The application is inspired by the act of sharing portrait photos in elementary school, where youngsters eagerly exchange their portrait picture with their friends when the photos arrive. The application was developed during an internship at Sony Ericsson in the early summer of 2008.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Columbus on Video!

This week we post a video on a mobile application for exploring the world through geo tagged photos. By having to physically move around the physical surroundings to unlock photos geotagged at locations visited, the aim is to bring back a sense of exploring when browsing through geotagged photos.

The application is here presented by Mattias Rost.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Meeting with Bestic

Today we had the pleasure of meeting with Ann-Louise Norén from the company Bestic. The company is in the process of introducing their product - a robotic arm assistance tool for eating, to the market. Our initial discussions focused on how we could study the end user perspectives on such technology and in particular look at longer terms of interaction and social aspects. We are very much looking forward to dig deeper into actual practice and use of robotic materials!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Video of the week: Context Photography

This week we post a video of an old project called Context Photography, here presented by Maria Håkansson.

Here's a description of the concept. Watch the video for a demo of the mobile application!

When taking a picture, would it be possible and interesting to capture something in addition to the visuals of the scenery? We explore if e.g. sound, temperature and pollution could be used as parameters in a digital camera and how these phenomena could be "visualised" or "represented" in a picture. The fundamental idea is to go beyond the traditional parameters (light, speed and focus) used in both analogue and digital cameras, and widen the concept of what a camera can capture. Digital technology opens up for new dimensions that can affect photography! This means that digital cameras no longer have to resemble their analogue counterparts. Unlike the editing of a picture in e.g. Photoshop, we want the (new) parameters to affect the image in real-time.

We have collaborated with a focus group of open-minded and explorative Lomographers, as well as with other dedicated amateur photographers. They were not primarily our end user group, but a source of inspiration (and also participants in design sessions) when designing the camera prototype.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kick-Off workshop of the Playful Experiences project

Playful Experiences is a new project in the Mobile Life Centre. The main purpose of the project is to understand what constitutes enjoyment of using a product; what kinds of experiences the product can elicit, and how to design something that evokes certain kind of experience. The kick-off workshop of the project took place in a beautiful cosy house in Bergianska trädgården, Naturens Hus. Together with 3 researchers from Nokia Research Center in Tampere and a group from the Mobile Life Centre (Ylva, Henriette and Nicolas) discussed and decided what we want to achieve in this project. From the playful experience of flirting to language differences around the word "playfulness", the discussions were intense and promising for the next steps of the projects. You can read more on the project on the Mobile Life website.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Video of GlowBots

Here's a video of GlowBots!

GlowBots are small round robots that displays visually appealing shapes on a color-intense hypnotizing display. Interacting with the robot encourages it to seek out and communicate its shape to other robots. Through their rich interaction a flora of shapes emerges that entices interest and engagement in an open ended fashion for joy and entertainment.

GlowBots are here presented by Mattias Jacobsson.

Friday, February 5, 2010

LIREC meeting in London

Ylva and Sara are going to London 8-10 of February to attend a LIREC meeting. Their ambition with the meeting is to discuss how to work with scenarios as a design-tool in robot research, and to go from this towards design requirements.

I'm back!

After being on parental leave during 2009, I'm now looking forward to face new interesting research challenges! I'm very happy to soon start developing forecasts about future scenarios of technology use, in a collaboration project between Wireless@KTH, Mobile Life and several industry partners. I'll also continue my work in the LIREC project about everyday robotics and ethics. Furthermore, I'm hoping to soon contribute with new funding and interesting projects at the Mobile Life Centre!


Sara Ljungblad