Table of Contents

VOLUME XII.2 March + April 2005

  • In this issue
    • In this issue

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      We hope you enjoy this issue’s special theme of robots. We extend our heartiest of thanks to Jean Scholtz, our guest editor for this issue, for pulling together an extraordinary special section that we hope you will enjoy. See Jean’s intro for a summary of what’s happening in the field.…

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  • Fresh: editors' rant
    • Usability as science

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      Usability as craft, art, intuition, inspiration, yes; but science? Well, no. And why would you want to lead folks down that path anyway? Let’s debunk this notion of science in the name of a) practicality and b) preserving our right to change our (subjective) minds. Presenting usability testing as science…

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  • Fresh: ok/cancel
    • Infinite loop

      Tom Chi, Kevin Cheng

      Usability as craft, art, intuition, inspiration, yes; but science? Well, no. And why would you want to lead folks down that path anyway? Let’s debunk this notion of science in the name of a) practicality and b) preserving our right to change our (subjective) minds. Presenting usability testing as science…

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  • Fresh: pushing the envelope
    • Why do I want ambient intelligence?

      Fred Sampson

      I usually think of ambience in terms of the delightful surroundings at my favorite restaurant: It’s one of the reasons I feel comfortable there. But restaurant ambience and ambient intelligence are two very different things (aren’t they?). I may choose to dine at a favorite restaurant because of its fine…

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  • Fresh: ask Dr. Usability
    • Greeking and internationalization

      Dr. Usability

      Dear Dr. Usability, I am trying to expand my practice but there is only so much software development done here in Precotia, Idaho. I decided to branch out internationally by posting my services on the Internet and I was contacted by a promising client in Athens, Greece. This is potentially…

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  • Fresh: mailbag
    • Letters to the editor

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      Pemberton’s Legacy Just read the "Goodbye!" editorial (November-December 2004) and wanted to take the opportunity to thank Steven for his leadership as editor of <interactions>. It has consistently been one of the very best professional journals for my needs as a developer of business applications. I am an ACM member…

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  • Robots!
    • Have robots, need interaction with humans!

      Jean Scholtz

      In this special edition of <interactions> we try to give readers an overview of the exciting world of human-robot interaction. While robots have been used in manufacturing assembly lines for some time, we are now seeing many other uses for them. We have included articles about robots being used for…

    • CosmoBot levels the playing field for disabled children

      Corinna Lathan, Amy Brisben, Charlotte Safos

      Most children with disabilities are engaged in some form of therapeutic rehabilitation and receive special education services. Therapists and educators spend much of their time trying to motivate children to perform therapy or participate in educational activities. Technology, specifically robotics, can level the playing field for therapists, educators, and children…

    • Robotic products to assist the aging population

      Jodi Forlizzi

      When Mr. and Mrs. G moved to a new one-bedroom apartment in an elder high rise, they were dismayed to that the previous tenant had installed grab bars in the bathroom. "We didn’t think we needed them. After all, we were a young couple in our 70s. It wasn’t long…

    • Socially intelligent robots

      Cynthia Breazeal

      What is a socially intelligent robot? It is a difficult concept to define, but science fiction offers many examples. There are the mechanical droids R2-D2 and C-3PO from Star Wars. There are many wonderful examples in the short stories of Isaac Asimov, such as Robbie. And more recently, there is…

    • Towards collaboration with robots in shared space

      Alan Schultz, J. Trafton

      Imagine mobile robots of the future, working side by side with humans, collaborating in a shared workspace. For this to become a reality, robots must be able to do something that humans do constantly: understand how others perceive space and the relative positions of objects around them—they need the ability…

    • Robots as laboratory hosts

      Candace Sidner, Christopher Lee

      At Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories, we are investigating the role of hosting activities with humanoid robots. Hosting activities are activities where an agent in an environment provides services, particularly information and entertainment services. They include tasks such as being a docent in a museum or host in a laboratory, and…

    • Qualitative spatial referencing for natural human-robot interfaces

      Marjorie Skubic

      When people communicate with each other about spatially oriented tasks, they more often use qualitative spatial references rather than precise quantitative terms. For example, verbal instructions may include phrases such as "hand me the wrench in the top drawer of the toolbox," or "go through the double doors and turn…

    • Case study

      Emily Hamner, Mark Lotter, Illah Nourbakhsh, Skip Shelly

      Introducing a Mission to Mars In 2003 Carnegie Mellon University research team members designed, prototyped, and installed the Personal Exploration Rover (PER) exhibit as part of a vision to: help the general public understand how NASA mission scientists use robots as space exploration tools increase the general public’s understanding of…

    • Humans, robots, rubble, and research

      Robin Murphy

      Rescue robotics has been declared an exemplar domain for human-robot interaction by the DARPA/NSF study and a computer science grand challenge by the Computing Research Association. This is not surprising given the extreme challenges of the urban search and rescue domain (US&R), where small robots are used to explore highly…

    • Using competitions to study human-robot interaction in urban search and rescue

      Jill Drury, Holly Yanco, Jean Scholtz

      The Competition Environment The National Institute of Standards and Technology has developed a reference test arena for robots in USAR, urban search and rescue [1, 2]. Currently, there are three different arenas that differ by difficulty. We term them as the yellow, orange, and red arenas. Figure 1 shows an…

    • Interaction challenges in human-robot space exploration

      Terrence Fong, Illah Nourbakhsh

      In January 2004, NASA established a new, long-term exploration program to support the President’s "Vision for U.S. Space Exploration." The primary goal of this program is to establish a sustained human presence in space, beginning with robotic missions to the moon in 2008, followed by extended human expeditions to the…

    • An interview with Dr. Corinna Lathan of AnthroTronix

      Jean Scholtz, Corinna Lathan

      Dr. Corinna Lathan is the president and CEO of AnthroTronix, a human factors engineering firm located in Silver Spring, Maryland. Before founding AnthroTronix, Dr. Lathan was an associate professor of Biomedical Engineering at The Catholic University of America (CUA). She holds advanced degrees in Neuroscience and Aeronautics and Astronautics from…

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  • Practice: connections
    • What else?

      Manfred Tscheligi

      Several weeks ago, I had a discussion with the former head of the local branch of a famous international company (everyone knows this company). Upon discussing the acceptance of usability during his time of influence, the man mentioned: "Industries like us know about the importance of user-centeredness, but as long…

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  • Practice: design
    • Prototyping

      Lars Holmquist

      In interaction design, it is common to use mock-ups, prototypes and other representations to explore an interactive system before it is actually built. This can range from simple cardboard cutouts to elaborate graphical simulations (see Sidebar 1). This approach has been particularly fruitful in participatory design, where users are brought…

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  • Practice: whiteboard
    • Designing theatre, designing user experience

      Whitney Quesenbery

      User experience design can take lessons from theatre-lighting design. You may wonder what connects these fields. Both shape how someone reacts to an event, and both must create virtual realities for their audience. But I think it all boils down to this: An interactive product, like a play, comes alive…

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  • Practice: business
    • Avoiding the next schism

      David Siegel, Susan Dray

      As our profession (or any other for that matter) evolves and people enter it from related but different disciplines, it naturally differentiates into subspecialties. Simultaneously, roles in organizations evolve and differentiate. This tends to produce increased richness and complexity, but can also lead to unfortunate barriers that fragment knowledge. Sometimes…

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  • People: the way I see it
    • Robots in the home

      Donald Norman

      Robots are coming, but what does this mean for ordinary folks? First of all, don’t believe all the hype. Lots of hobbyists and small ventures would have you believe that robots are already here, capable of a wide variety of interactions, including healthcare and monitoring medication compliance, security monitoring, education,…

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  • People: fast forward
    • Dreaming of robots

      Aaron Marcus

      In past times, not only today, human beings have dreamed of "human-machine" hybrids, which, or who, could help, hurt, collaborate with, and/or challenge us. Robot Dreams: Past Tense Aaron Marcus: Looking back through history, how did people define "robots?" Bruce Sterling: The term comes from theater. It was invented by…

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  • People: on the enterprise
    • Too many cooks

      Dustin Beltram

      Nellie, an interaction designer for a typical enterprise software company, is wrapping up her involvement with the latest release of one of her company’s main products. Though she has several years of UI design experience, this is her first job at an enterprise software company. She has delivered the final…

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  • Books
    • Book review

      Karen Landis

      Interaction Design for Complex Problem Solving Barbara Mirel Morgan Kaufmann ISBN 1558608311 $44.95 Interaction Design for Complex Problem Solving is not a standard "how-to" book, nor is it an "over the weekend" or "on the plane" read. Rather, it is a thoughtful, innovative approach to interaction design and…

    • New & upcoming titles

      Gerard Torenvliet

      Human-Computer Interaction: Designing Effective Organizational Information Systems Dov Te’eni, Jane Carey, Ping Zhang John Wiley & Sons, February 2005 ISBN: 0471677655 $89.95 Human and Machine Perception: Communication, Interaction, and Integration Virginio Cantoni World Scientific Publishing Company, March 2005 ISBN: 9812384316 $85 Understanding New Media: Augmented Knowledge…

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  • Rewind
    • Beyond human-centered design?

      Nico Macdonald

      The Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2004 conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, featured a panel on the theme "Beyond Human-Centred Design?" which asked whether a diminished view of the user and corporate cowardice leave people short-changed with respect to the design of new products. Three panelists constructed the following positions after the…

    • Robot rescue camp

      Jean Scholtz

      How about a really different camp! First of all, this one was not for kids-at least not below the graduate-student level. The camp was sponsored by Istituto Superiore Antincendi, the Department of Computer and Systems Science University of Rome "La Sapienza," Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fraunhofer Institut Autonome Intelligente…

    • Robots in Italy

      Cory Kidd

      In July of 2003, the first annual robotics summer school sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and the International Foundation of Robotics Research took place in Volterra, Italy. In this small picturesque town in the Tuscan province, approximately 40 faculty, students, and researchers gathered to share their knowledge…

    • 14th IEEE International Workshop on Robot and Human Interactive Communication

      Julie Adams

      IEEE’s RO-MAN workshops address fundamental issues regarding the co-existence of humans and intelligent machines and recent technological advancements, as well as psychological research on interactive communication and collaboration. Founded in 1992 by professors Toshio Fukuda, Hisato Kobayashi, Hiroshi Harashima, and Fumio Hara, the RO-MAN international workshop usually has a small…

    • HRI 2006

      Mike Goodrich

      IEEE’s RO-MAN workshops address fundamental issues regarding the co-existence of humans and intelligent machines and recent technological advancements, as well as psychological research on interactive communication and collaboration. Founded in 1992 by professors Toshio Fukuda, Hisato Kobayashi, Hiroshi Harashima, and Fumio Hara, the RO-MAN international workshop usually has a small…

    • From fiction to science

      Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      Automata • Autonomous Robots • Human Augmentation • Mars Charlotte Jourdain of swissnex and Patrick Gyger of Maison d’ailleurs organized a four-day symposium in September and October 2004 to "connect the dots" between scientists, science-fiction authors, and artists on the topic of "From Fiction to Science." swissnex invited talks on…

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  • People: HCI & the web
    • The cost of more

      William Hudson

      There has always been a difficult balance in the amount of choice offered to consumers. Too little choice means a store may be omitting services or products important to some users (and worse still, that a competitor might include). Too much choice adds complexity with increased potential for confusing or…

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  • Event planner
    • Event planner

      interactions Staff

      April 2-7 CHI 2005 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Portland, OR, USA www.chi2005.org April 20-22 Laval Virtual 2005 7th Virtual Reality International Conference Laval, France www.laval-virtual.org May 9-11 CRV 2005 2nd Canadian Conference on Computer and Robot Vision Victoria, BC, Canada www.cipprs.org/CRV AI05 18th Canadian Conference on Artificial…

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  • Editors' rave
    • User research as kool-aid

      Jonathan Arnowitz, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

      Has your organization drunk the Kool-Aid yet? There’s no lack of references for the value of user research. It has, thankfully, become quite easy to find a qualified consultant who can convince upper management that listening to customers, and then doing something about what you hear, is good for the…

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