Awareness on the move:
Desktop and mobile awareness prototypes for coordinating contact

John C. Tang and James "Bo" Begole

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University April 27, 2001

Our Network Communities research group has explored the use of awareness cues to facilitate communication among distributed work groups by developing a series of prototypes. The ConNexus prototype integrates awareness information, instant messaging, and other communication resources in a desktop computer interface. The Awarenex prototype extends that functionality to wireless handheld devices, such as a Palm, and integrates telephony into the system.

A speech interface also enables callers to make use of the awareness information over the telephone. While the prototypes offer similar functionality, the interfaces reflect the different design affordances and use contexts of each platform. We discuss the design implications of providing awareness information on devices with varying interface and network characteristics. We will also comment on the challenges of transferring the experience gained in the research commmunity on awareness to the fast-moving market of instant messaging products.

John Tang works in the Network Communities group in Sun Labs. He is a Senior Interface Design Engineer that studies how people use technology to guide the design and development of new technology. He is currently applying this approach to design new technologies that use awareness information to support the communication and coordination of distributed work groups. Previous work at Sun has focused on developing multimedia systems to support distributed collaboration. Prior to joining Sun in 1990, John worked at Xerox PARC developing and studying several shared drawing prototype tools. His doctoral research at Stanford University studied the use of shared workspaces in group design activity.

James "Bo" Begole joined Sun Labs' Network Communities group in 1999 as the group's lead software engineer with research interests in collaborative computing, computer-mediated communication, distributed-system architectures and mobile computing. Bo received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Virginia Tech in 1998 where he researched techniques to provide flexible support for collaboration in application-sharing systems. Prior to his studies, Bo served in the US Army from 1981-89 as an Arabic language interpreter stationed in the US, Egypt and Greece.

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