Location Granularity of Images in Flickr

Posted: November 30th, 2006 | No Comments »

I am using Flickr to investigate the granularity of the position the users attach to their images in relation to where they have been taken. Here an example based on 5543 retrieved images with the tag “barcelona” and granularity 16 (i.e. street level. World level is 1, country is ~3, region ~6, city ~11, and street ~16).

Flickr Barcelona Accuracy16 2 Flickr Barcelona Accuracy16 4

Related to Granularities of User Experience in Ubicomp.

Relation to my thesis: Pet project in the 1-2am shift. Actually, exploring the different levels of location granularity used in the Flickr community could become an example that show where location accuracy is used in a urban space. Next steps, using the descriptions/tags of the images and exploiting GeoIQ.

CHI 2007 Workshop on "Mobile Spatial Interaction"

Posted: November 29th, 2006 | No Comments »

The Call for Participation for the CHI 2007 Workshop on “Mobile Spatial Interaction” is out.

The idea of Mobile spatial interaction (MSI) is becoming increasingly relevant, feasible and desired. Location and orientation sensing hardware is being integrated into a growing number of handsets and can be expected to be even more widespread in the near future. At the same time, geographic information systems and 3D models are becoming more sophisticated.

The workshop Mobile Spatial Interaction will aim to help researchers realize the vision of seamless and intuitive Mobile Spatial Interaction. The goal is to reach beyond the conventional model of location by creating a sense of space and orientation.

Original research results and concepts on the following topics are encouraged:
- Methods and ideas for the identification of application scenarios
- Modelling concepts for geo-spatial (end-user) content creation
- Conceptual designs and scenarios of spatially-aware interaction techniques
- Outdoor testing methods for spatially aware applications
- Augmented/parallel reality concepts in gaming, arts, tourism, etc
- Location/orientation sensing technologies and migration paths from legacy to state-of-the-art technology
- Mobile social applications and services involving the interaction with information created by other users
- Indoor navigation and spatial awareness
- Practicality and feasibility issues regarding technologies, application design and data modeling.
- Combination of spatial interaction with gesture-based interaction
- Dealing with sensor uncertainty e.g. what happens when GPS shadows occur or there is less accurate wireless transmitter triangulation?
- Multimodal integration, e.g. by adding spatial audio, touch, or scent

Relation to my thesis: A must submit workshop!

Bricks for a Urban Location Aware System

Posted: November 29th, 2006 | No Comments »

I am using different positioning techniques (GPS, WiFi and GSM) to investigating the fluctuating location quality and timeliness experienced in a large-scale coverage such as the Barcelona urban area.
Bcn Metro Gsm Fingerprints Bcn Wifi Map Yuji Ecologia Crossing Gracia2
(from left to right) Using a homemade S60 Application to collect GSM fingerprints in specific POI such as metro stations, WiFi map (courtesy of Yuji Yoshimura, Agencia d`Ecologia Urbana de Barcelona), GPS drifts in of of the many compact low-rise buildings area of Barcelona.

Relation with my thesis: toying around to come up with design ideas and contexts for their implementations.

Mobile LBS Market

Posted: November 27th, 2006 | 7 Comments »

Presented at the LIAISON-ISHTAR Workshop in September of this year, Mobile LBS Market by C. Desiniotis, J. G. Markoulidakis from Vodafone, and J-Fr Gaillet from NAVTEQ presents the reasons for the low adoption of LBS during the past years as well as the drivers that are expected to push the still emerging LBS market in the near future.

The authros first define the different aspects of positioning techniques such as access technology, measurement, terminal vs. network based, indoor vs. outdoor, and software/hardware implications. Positioning techniques performance can be evaluated using criteria such as accuracy, latency, availability, reliability and applicability. In fact, the achieved positioning accuracy is closely related to the implementation costs.

Positioning Accuracy Cost

More interesting, they provide a classification of 18 mass-market LBS applications with their different needs in terms of required quality of service (accuracy, integrity, indoor coverage, etc.) and the different groups of users they address

Lbs Applications Grouping

The reasons why LBS is not yet the “killer application” in wireless communications are a combination of reduced take-up of mobile data services as a whole, and low take-up specifically of mobile LBS. Some of the most important reasons responsible for this turn are summarized as follows:

  • Poor tracking performance
  • Inherent customer perception issues
  • Low throughput mobile networks
  • Significant investment required
  • User adoption requires time
  • Not well defined business models
  • Unfriendly User Interfaces

They conclude that:

Technology hype and low adoption of the existing model of LBS (first wave of services) lead the market to rationalise and refocus. It is evident that users lacked of interest in the existing offer during the past years. The expectations for the second wave of LBS should thus be more conservative in terms of the market growth.

Relation to my thesis: The paper concurs with the many discussions with Nicolas about the failed state of LBS and the expectations of a second wave (i.e. “how LBS failed as a technology-driven product but how it was a success in the dissemination of such applications in people’s mind”). I am not sure the “drivers” mentioned in this papers are the key for the take-off of a second wave of LBS. Indeed, users still do not seem to be in the center of preoccupation of LBS practitioners and analysts.

In my work, I acknowledge poor tracking performance and low throughput mobile networks as potential initiator of issues on the usability of a location-aware application. However, I do not consider that improvements in positioning techniques and data communication as the unique key factors for a usable application. I investigate the management and integration of the technological constraints in the design of the system.

The LIASON Project – Bringing Combined Positioning and Communications Technologies to Market

Posted: November 26th, 2006 | No Comments »

LIAISON is a 3.5 years initiative with 30 partners from 10 European countries to develop and implement a new generation of location-based services (LBS) for the professional market. The project approach, based on what is called ‘enhanced assisted GPS’, is designed to improve the speed, accuracy and reliability of existing GPS systems, allowing a whole new range of time, cost and life-saving services to be developed. The key difference between the enhanced assisted GPS being implemented by LIAISON and standard GPS is a ‘”substantial” improvement in every aspect of the location-based services, the coordinator notes. By combining GPS with an external server to refine the raw location data, LIAISON can pinpoint a person’s location to within one or two meters. Even more importantly, a user can pick up the signal and identify their location within seconds, not minutes, and the system works even in the most challenging environments, such as in urban canyons surrounded by high buildings or in dense forests.


The first tests involve deploying location-based services to aid remote workers for French broadcast service provider TDF, and also to enhance data collection for Ama, a waste management company in Rome. The second set of trials, which are scheduled to begin May 2007, entail assisting maintenance workers for Spanish electricity supplier Endesa, and operating an automated dispatch system for taxi drivers in Greece. In the third test phase, beginning January 2008, LBS will be implemented for the Sussex police force in the United Kingdom and for fire fighters in Italy.

A workshop has been held in September 2006 (proceedings).

Relation to my thesis: A big european project to improve speed, accuracy and reliability of LBS. The efforts are concentrated on professional applications rather than the public. I particularly like the Rome test on enhancing data collection of a waste management company. Even if the use of location information are different in each test, the core components of the system remain the same. It does not seem that the projects aims at covering my research question: “how certain (accurate) do positional and tracking systems have to be in order to be useful and acceptable?”.

I hope the outcome of the project will surpass the current louzy italian-based project web site.

Defining Usability, User Expericence, Utility, and Usage

Posted: November 25th, 2006 | 1 Comment »

Some of the feedback I receive on my research plan highlight my misuse of the terms usability, user experience, utility, and usage. Sara Ljunblad’s User Driven Design course provide some clarifications.

First of all HCI aims at developing or improving the safety, utility, effectiveness, efficiency, and usability of systems that include computers (Interacting with Computers, 1989, p. 3). Utility refers to the functionality of a system and usability is about making systems easy to learn and easy to employ.

Usability can be broken down into the following goals:

  • Effective to use (effectiveness)
  • Efficient to use (efficiency)
  • Safe to use (safety)
  • Have good utility (utility)
  • Easy to lean (learnability)
  • Easy to remember how to use (memorability)

Interaction design aims at creating user experiences that enhance and extend the way people work, communicate and interact. It shares the same fundamentals as HCI in terms of usability goals and design methodology, but it is also concerned about creating systems that are:

  • Satisfying
  • Enjoyable
  • Fun
  • Entertaining
  • Helpful
  • Motivating
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Supportive of creativity
  • Rewarding
  • Emotionally fulfilling

Usage is the act, manner or amount of using.

Relation to my thesis: I do not investigate in the field of user experience as its scope is very large and highly subjective therefore difficult to quantify and evaluate in a scientific way. I mention “enhance the usability of location-aware system” as a very abstract goal. This might need to be reformulated.

New Experiments with ShoutSpace

Posted: November 24th, 2006 | No Comments »

ShoutSpace is an application for collaborative annotations of a map in a nomadic setting (Stamps being the mobile version), I developed with Mauro Cherubini at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technologies Lausanne (EPFL). This week, we modified the system for Mauro to run experiments in fixed settings with a very specific task and 3 experiments conditions. The first where participants can communicate using a standard chat utility. The second where participants enrich the conversation with spatial information and finally a mixed condition where they are free to use a standard utility or the spatialized one.

 Mauro Blog Wp-Content Uploads 2006 11 Images Shoutspace Conditions
The three experimental conditions

Relation to my thesis: Mauro’s work over the years has given me lost of insights on spatial annotations and how to run experiments in mobile settings.

Nicolas Nova sur les Médias Géolocalisés

Posted: November 23rd, 2006 | No Comments »

L’entretien de Nicolas Nova sur Radio Cité au sujet des médias géolocalisés est disponible en ligne. Nicolas définie les médias géolocalisés, exemplifie leurs différents usages et leur relatif état d’échec de leurs utilisations en masse (réponse à réel besoin? et technologies perturbatrices), puis introduit l’idée de “traces” d’objets ou des gens pour rendre l’implicite explicite.

User Experience at Intel Research Berkeley

Posted: November 22nd, 2006 | No Comments »

Intel Research Berkeley investigates user experience with the following scope:

Understanding how people, devices, and social networks behave in time and space, in homes and urban environments, and managing uncertain and probabilistic information about it all.

Relation to my thesis: people, devices, time, space, urban environment, managing uncertain information.

Living Labs Europe

Posted: November 22nd, 2006 | No Comments »

Launched in the beginning of this year Living Labs Europe (blog) is a collaboration of Public Private Partnership where firms, public authorities and people work together with creating, prototyping, validating and testing new services, businesses, markets and technologies in real-life contexts, such as cities, city regions, rural areas and collaborative virtual networks between public and private players. The real-life and everyday life contexts will both stimulate and challenge research and development as public authorities and citizens will not only participate in, but also contribute to the whole innovation process.

There are already many existing real-life test beds in Europe that as building blocks the future Living Labs concept, including Barcelona. They have already published a report the Mobile Readiness Index of the region.

Relation to my thesis: The Living Labs concept is about moving out of laboratories into real-life contexts.