My research is positioned within the design and use of context-aware applications. These applications can be characterized as adapting their behavior to relevant changes in the environment they are in, and the human agents that are using them. This makes my research largely focused on actual use patterns in real life situations, i.e. to ensure that someone's life is enriched in a deeply meaningful way by the technology that is developed. I am in particular interested in understanding this so called mediating role that context-aware applications may have for our lives - professionally, as well as in private. How is our perception of - and experiences in - the world affected by the introduction of context-aware technology?
I conduct this research using exploratory action research, i.e. a research method that I developed in my PhD work that is rooted in explorative design and iterative development. Innovative technology may therefore be developed and assessed in close collaboration with industry and end users in a way that is informed by the latest ways of working within agile methods, such as Lean software development and Scrum.
For consumers today, two strong examples where mediating (and context-aware) technology play a central role are the automotive industry and game industry. A modern car is largely defined by the network of sensors, electronics, and digital systems that today actively helps while driving (supplying increased safety as well as convenience), at the same time as the car provides drivers and passengers with contextually relevant information and entertainment services. The game industry have the last few years gone from a focus on stationary single-player games to increasingly social games, where physical interaction with the games as well as other players through sensor-based controllers are at the center of innovation, such as special dance floors, guitars, and drums (e.g. Dance Dance Revolution, and Rock Band) as well as cameras and sensors that monitor physical movements of the body (e.g. Microsoft Kinect, and Oculus Rift).
We can also see a strong trend of growing technology support for improving the efficiency while training (e.g. apps like RunKeeper, Strava, and wearable devices like smart watches and bracelets). We furthermore see similar development for general well-being through social services such as Foursquare, Foodspotting, and Untappd, where focus lies on sharing geographically relevant information to others, as well as services for personal stress management, sleep tracking and chronic health conditions. Finally, the long heralded technology for smart houses is today - thanks to reduced prices and improved performance of sensors and networks - in a position to become more widely diffused. This may lead to new services for convenience as well as for a more energy and environmentally conscious lifestyle.