Mobile Devices for Control

Brad Myers, Carnegie Mellon University

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 22, 2002

With today's wireless technologies, such as BlueTooth and IEEE 802.11, connecting handheld computers and conventional computers together are becoming no longer an occasional event for synchronization. Instead, the devices are frequently in close, interactive communication. Many environments, such as offices, meeting rooms and classrooms, already contain computers, and the smart homes of the future will have ubiquitous embedded computation. Household and office appliances will soon have wireless communication abilities. When the user enters one of these environments carrying a handheld or wearable computer, how will that computer interact with the environment? The Pebbles project is exploring the many ways that small handheld Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) such as PalmOS devices or Pocket PC / Windows CE devices can serve as a useful adjunct to the "fixed" computers in those situations. For meetings, our applications allow the presenter to use a PDA to have better control of presentations, and allow the audience to actively participate with their own PDAs. For the office, other Pebbles applications allow the PDA to be used as an extra input and output device. For the home, we are exploring the use of the PDA as a customizable, intelligent "personal universal controller" (PUC) for appliances. For classrooms, we are investigating how the students' handhelds can enhance testing and notetaking when they are connected to the instructor's PC. For the disabled, we are investigating how PDAs can serve as assistive devices for access to computers and appliances. This talk will provide an overview of our Pebbles project, including a live demonstration of our systems (available for download from our web site) and a discussion of future plans.

For more information, see

Brad Myers is a Senior Research Scientist in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author or editor of over 230 publications, including three books, and he is on the editorial board of five journals. He has consulted for over 40 companies on user interface design and implementation. Myers received a PhD in computer science at the University of Toronto where he developed the Peridot UIMS. He received the MS and BSc degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during which time he was a research intern at Xerox PARC. From 1980 until 1983, he worked at PERQ Systems Corporation. His research interests include user interfaces, handheld computers, programming languages for kids, User Interface Development Systems, Programming by Example, Visual Programming, interaction techniques, window management, and programming environments. He belongs to SIGCHI, ACM, IEEE, IEEE Computer Society, and Computer Professonals for Social Responsibility..


View this talk on line at CS547 on Stanford OnLine

Titles and abstracts for all years are available by year and by speaker.

For more information about HCI at Stanford see

Overview Degrees Courses Research Faculty FAQ