Evaluating the Effects of Displaying Uncertainty in Context-Aware Applications

Posted: August 11th, 2005 | No Comments »

In Evaluating the Effects of Displaying Uncertainty in Context-Aware Applications the authors claim that perfect and reliable context information is hard if not impossible to obtain in context aware systems. They propose and evaluate a feedback mechanism for context aware systems. The idea is to explicitly display the uncertainty inherent in the context information and to leverage from the human ability to deal well with uncertain information. By changing the quality, respectively the uncertainty of context recognition, the experiments show that human performance in a memory task is increased by explicitly displaying uncertainty information. A few quotes

” it is important to take into account that context information might be faulty and uncertain because of missing information, unpredictable behavior, ambiguous situations, and differing interpretations”

“Obviously, systems exist which explicitly model and use uncertainty during inference and decision making. Maybe the most advanced systems like the Lumiere [8] project, the Lookout project [9] or the Activity Compass [10] are based on techniques such as Bayesian modelling and inference, utility, and decision theory. In the context of ubiquitous computing it has been suggested, however, that modelling uncertainties and advanced inference mechanisms might not be enough”

“Chalmers [11] even argues for “seamful rather than seamless designâ€? to reveal the physical nature of the Ubicomp systems in, for example, the uncertainty in sensing and ambiguity in representations.”

“What is common to all of them is to propose the use of different feedback mechanisms and to involve the user in various degrees and forms.”

“The proposal is based on the fact that users are actually used to and highly successful in dealing with uncertain information throughout their daily lives.”

” we propose to display this uncertainty explicitly and leverage from the user’s ability to choose the appropriate action. ”

“Experiment 1 clearly showed that displaying the degree of uncertainty affected performance. Showing uncertainty information had a clear effect on hit rates. They increased substantially when uncertainty information was displayed, especially when tips of high quality were shown and when the task was difficult.”

“Experiment 2 provides converging evidence for the view that displaying uncertainty information increases performance in terms of hit rates, whereas falsealarm rates are much less – if at all – affected”

“One issue to be considered in future work is the tradeoff between the cognitive load, which displaying uncertainty information causes, and the added value that it provides.”