Sharing Emotions about the Neighborhood and
through the Neighborhood
Olivier Liechti, Thomas Pham
IICT / HEIG-VD
Universit...
Fig. 1. Typical street view in Tokyo: does it bring back nice memories?
II. URBAN SOCIAL APPLICATIONS
In this section, pro...
an offline mode (and to support periodic synchronization,
typically when users get access to WiFi hotspots).
B. Critical ma...
Grab photo
Attach location
Grab audio
Grab both
AmbiGrabber What color do
you feel now?
What rythm do
you feel now?
Fig. 2...
<<Lens>>
Mobile App
<<Box>>
User-owned
(personal
collection)
<<Box>>
Location-bound
The lens is configured so that the
use...
[4] V. Kostakos and E. O’Neill, “Cityware: Urban computing to bridge
online and real-world social networks,” Handbook of R...
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Sharing emotions-about-the-neighborhood-and-through-the-neighborhood

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Abstract: In this paper, we reflect on two observations. The first one is that sharing artifacts such as photographs is a powerful and emotionally-rich form of social interaction. The second one is that we all associate emotions to the places that we visit. For these reasons, we are interested to explore new tools for capturing the ambience of neighborhoods and cities. We are also interested to develop ways for people to share these ambiences both online and in augmented physical places. We introduce our ideas in this domain and illustrate them with two ongoing projects: AmbiGrabber and Boxes and Lenses. With these systems, our goal is to create a basic set of technologies that will allow us to build and experiment with social applications in urban environments.

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Sharing emotions-about-the-neighborhood-and-through-the-neighborhood

  1. 1. Sharing Emotions about the Neighborhood and through the Neighborhood Olivier Liechti, Thomas Pham IICT / HEIG-VD University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland 1401 Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland Email: olivier.liechti@heig-vd.ch Pitoyo Hartono School of Information Science and Technology Dept. of Mechanics and Information Technology Toyota-shi, Japan Email: hartono@sist.chukyo-u.ac.jp Alain Lala, Florian Broennimann Future University Hakodate Hakodate, Japan IICT / HEIG-VD 1401 Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland Abstract—In this paper, we reflect on two observations. The first one is that sharing artifacts such as photographs is a powerful and emotionally-rich form of social interaction. The second one is that we all associate emotions to the places that we visit. For these reasons, we are interested to explore new tools for capturing the ambience of neighborhoods and cities. We are also interested to develop ways for people to share these ambiences both on-line and in augmented physical places. We introduce our ideas in this domain and illustrate them with two ongoing projects: AmbiGrabber and Boxes and Lenses. With these systems, our goal is to create a basic set of technologies that will allow us to build and experiment with social applications in urban environments. Index Terms—Memories, emotions, affective awareness, mobile computing, ubiquitous computing, digital photography, public displays, augmented communities. I. INTRODUCTION There is something quite peculiar about Japan, which we have repeatedly observed over time. This observation has inspired many of the ideas presented in this paper and has been one of the motivations for our work in this area. It relates to the impressions that people feel when visiting urban environments, it relates to the memories that they keep about cities, neighborhoods and buildings. Even more interestingly, it relates to the feelings that people have in common about these places, even when they do not know each other. As the authors of this paper, we have collectively spent several years in Japan and have kept fond memories of this country. We have met many other foreigners, who have either traveled or lived there and thus have had opportunities to talk about our personal experiences. Of course, a common practice in this context is to share photographs about visited places. We have noticed something that may seem anecdotal, but which in our opinion reveals a very powerful idea: in almost every photo collection related to Japan, one will find a snapshot of a vending machine and a snapshot of a narrow street with a messy arrangement of electric cables. At first glance, the reality depicted in these snapshots is not aesthetic at all. As a matter of fact, many people looking at the pictures will find it surprising that one could even thinking about taking such a snapshot in the first place. Nevertheless, if the people looking at the photographs have visited Japan in the past, they will instantly feel something and remember positive impressions about their stay. Photographs are not simply artifacts that capture reality. They are artifacts that have an emotional impact on the the people who look at them. This is of course true for pictures depicting people (think of family portraits), but also for pictures depicting places. Some previous work have proposed the notion of affective awareness [1] to capture lightweight and non explicit communication patterns. Systems that make it easier for people to share photographs are well suited to support affective awareness. This is particularly true if they provide mechanisms to capture the emotional reaction of the users watching the pictures. We have previously focused on the use of such systems in domestic settings, with the goal to enhance communication within families. In this paper, we expand the scope to larger and more diffuse social networks. We look at ways to create connections between people, based on the places they visit. We look at ways to collect, but also to distribute and disseminate, user generated content in augmented physical spaces. This is a vast topic and to explore it, our approach is to develop a core set of tools and frameworks that we will then use to support various application scenarios. We intend to explore new forms of social interactions grounded in physical environments, at different scales (e.g. at the scale of a museum, at the scale of a city). In this paper, we first go through a number of design issues, which we believe are important for the design of urban social applications. While we are interested to come up with original application scenarios, we are equally interested to build and deploy these applications in real-world settings. This approach is reflected in some of the issues that we consider and which are very practical. In the second part of the paper, we present the design of two systems respectively named AmbiGrabber and Boxes and Lenses. The first system seeks to provide new means to capture ambiences when visiting a particular neighborhood. The tool aims to make it easy to create and share visual snapshots, but also audio snippets. The second system seeks to provide a generic model for distributing digital artifacts in augmented physical environments, as well as for interacting with these artifacts in different types of applica- tions. The implementation of these systems is in progress and we intend to have demonstrators at the workshop.
  2. 2. Fig. 1. Typical street view in Tokyo: does it bring back nice memories? II. URBAN SOCIAL APPLICATIONS In this section, propose two definitions for what we call urban social applications. Firstly, we argue that urban envi- ronments provide a very interesting context to support and stimulate interpersonal communication. Secondly, we argue that urban environments offer opportunities to use existing digital assets in original ways. A. Interacting through the city As we mentioned before, people have impressions and feel- ings when they live, work and visit cities. Some neighborhoods are stressful, others are boring. Some buildings are amazingly beautiful, others are scary. Most often, the impressions felt by people stay personal. They exist solely in their memories and are somewhat ephemeral. But sometimes, people use these memories as a context for social interactions. This is what happens when people talk about the places they have visited, what they have seen, etc. Of course, what happens in face-to- face communication can also happen in computer-mediated communication. Hence, we would like to propose a first definition: a urban social application is a system that promotes the creation of content grounded in a physical environment and that fosters interpersonal communication around this content. Tools that combine multimedia capture, instant and lightweight communication, geo-location certainly fit in this category. B. Interacting with the city We are interested by the design of interactive systems that connect content-centric applications to physical places. In urban spaces, there is already an flow of information, but it is still mostly unidirectional (think of advertisements, billboards, speakers). Our goal is to allow city inhabitants and visitors to interact with the environment in richer ways. Street art, such as graffiti, is a form of urban cultural expression. We seek to develop non-obtrusive and non-destructive ways that allow people to personalize and decorate public places, based on their personal digital assets. Based on this, we would like to propose a second definition: a urban social application is a system through which users can interact with and alter the physical environment and which creates new forms of social interactions. III. DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS A. The quasi ubiquitous network Many ubiquitous computing applications assume the avail- ability of a high-bandwidth, continuous and free (or at least affordable) network connection. This is true to a certain extent, but there are still situations where the hypothesis does not hold. The applications that we have in mind will be appealing to people traveling abroad. The costs currently associated with data roaming are still prohibitive. Therefore, we believe that a key requirement for urban social applications is to integrate
  3. 3. an offline mode (and to support periodic synchronization, typically when users get access to WiFi hotspots). B. Critical mass We are interested to create new opportunities for people to discover each other, for people to communicate by exchanging artifacts and impressions about these artifacts. For these social features to make sense, a critical mass of users must be reached. This is always a challenge, and we argue that a key design principle for urban social applications is to include a set of features that bring value to individual users, before they start interacting with other users. C. Moderation We are interested to offer ways for people to create and share content based on the places they visit. We are interested by scenarios where the sharing is not done exclusively on- line, but is done in augmented physical environments. One of the ideas that springs to mind is for a user to be able to publish a personal photograph onto a public display (typically using his mobile phone as a kind of remote controller). The idea of broadcasting user generated content in public spaces is interesting, but raises sensitive issues. In particular, it raises the question of how to define what content is appropriate for publication and based on this how to setup an effective moderation process. This is not trivial, because different forces need to be balanced. From a user experience point of view, it is important for public interactive systems to give rapid feedback to users. A system that allows users to send personal photographs and that displays the photographs on a public display after a couple of days is interesting. But it is not be as engaging as a system that displays the photograph almost instantly. On the other hand, a realtime moderation process through which submitted photographs can immediately been accepted or rejected, is only realistic for events and not for extended period of times. An interesting question to investigate, is how the moder- ation process can be distributed and how responsibility can be delegated within the community of users. Nevertheless, the owner of the public display sometimes needs to have a complete control on the approval process. In this case, we argue for the decoupling of two processes. The first process consists in submitting personal content to the system (without the need for immediate feedback), the second process consists in using previously approved content when interacting with the augmented environment. This means that users both have the possibility to contribute with their own content and to interact with highly reactive systems. Reflecting on these ideas, we believe that there are very different application settings, with varying needs for moderation and access management. One objective of Boxes and Lenses, described later, is to offer a relatively simple set of abstractions that can be combined and configured to accomodate these varying needs. IV. AMBIGRABBER The first system that we are working on is named Ambi- Grabber. It fits in the first category of urban social applica- tions, as described in Paragraph II-A. As its name suggests, it is a tool that people will use to grab ambiences when they explore cities. The tool allows people to take visual and auditory snapshots, but also to express their current state of mind and impressions. This last element is one of the most interesting investigation areas. A. System overview AmbiGrabber consists of two main components. The first component of the system is a mobile application, which people use to record snapshots. It is very similar to the camera applications that run on mobile phones. In addition to photographs, the tool also makes it possible to record audio snippets. We believe that recording the ambient sound is important to capture the atmosphere of a neighborhood. Looking at the particular case of Japan once again, hearing the noise of a Pachinko hall or the sound of a cicada will instantly bring back memories to people having visited Japan. The second component of the system is a portal, allowing users to explore the captured artifacts and to give their own feedback. We plan to investigate original navigation methods in the content. B. Impromptu recordings One of the key design requirements for AmbiGrabber is that the capture of ambiences should be easy, quick and pleasant. This important to entice users to use the tool regularly, hence to drive the creation and the sharing of content. For this reason, the user interface of AmbiGrabber is very simple. On the main screen, push buttons allow the user to take visual, respectively auditory snapshots. In the latter case, we have decided to limit the maximum recording time to 20 seconds to convey the idea that AmbiGrabber is not meant to record lengthy vocal descriptions. C. Network connectivity As we explained before, the cost of data roaming is still very expensive. Even tough it would be possible to upload snapshots on the fly, we believe that a key requirement for the tool is to implement an offline mode, using a local buffer and a synchronization mechanism that can be triggered when the user switches to a WiFi connection. D. Gathering user impressions In addition to the capture of snapshots, AmbiGrabber seeks to gather the subjective feedback of the authors. Instead of asking the user to enter a textual description, we aim to explore original ways [2], [3] to capture a state of mind, an impression. As shown in Figure 2, one idea is to ask the user to express what ”color“ he currently feels. We are very interested to analyze how such abstract annotation mechanisms would be used.
  4. 4. Grab photo Attach location Grab audio Grab both AmbiGrabber What color do you feel now? What rythm do you feel now? Fig. 2. Mockup of the AmbiGrabber user interface: gathering user impression informally V. BOXES AND LENSES In Boxes and Lenses, we are interested to study interactive systems grounded in urban environments. We are looking at ways to capture and disseminate user generated content within the city. Our approach is based on a simple model, with two key abstractions. The decoupling between these abstractions and the ability to define different types of policies makes the model very flexible and enables the creation of very different application scenarios. The first abstraction, the Box, is a virtual container of digital artifacts. A Box can be attached to a physical location. Rules specify who has the right to put and get content from a Box. The second abstraction, the Lens, is a software controller that allows the user to view and interact with the content of a Box. Lenses can for example be embodied in mobile devices and in public displays. In the former case, the user has a personal Lens that it can use to look at the Boxes he finds when exploring the city. In the latter case, the content dropped into a Box can be projected on a public space. Both Boxes and Lenses are accessible through a RESTful API, which makes the connectivity between the components very easy and facilitates the creation of social applications on top of the generic framework. This is an approach that has been used in other application domains [2], [4], [5]. A. Looking at Boxes through Lenses The sketches in Figure 3 illustrate a typical social applica- tion built on top of the Boxes and Lenses framework. In this example, we use two different types of boxes. The first type is a personal box, that is used to store a personal archive of artifacts. This box that is not attached to any location and is meant to be accessed only by its own. The second type is a public box. This box is attached to a location and has a policy that specifies whether anybody can drop content into the box, whether people have to physically close to the box in order to drop content into the box, whether the box has a limited capacity, etc. In the example, one lens is embodied into a mobile application. Through this lens, the user can interact both with his personal box (at the top of the screen) and with public boxes (at the bottom of the screen). The user interface allows the user to drag and drop pictures from one box to the other. Of course, other lenses can be used at the same time. An application controlling a public display [6] could very well be connected to the public box, into which the user has dropped content. We are thinking about different ways for the user to connect a lens to a box. One idea is to attach QRcodes to physical locations (bus stop, school, sports arena, etc.) and to associate each QRCode to a specific box. Users would scan the code in order to connect the lens to a box. VI. CONCLUSION In this paper, we have presented two ongoing projects, AmbiGrabber and Boxes and Lenses. They are examples of urban social applications, based on two definitions that we have proposed for this concept. AmbiGrabber seeks to offer new ways for people to capture ambiences when they explore
  5. 5. <<Lens>> Mobile App <<Box>> User-owned (personal collection) <<Box>> Location-bound The lens is configured so that the user has access to his personal collection of photos (there should be a cache?) When the user scans a QRCode, he views the content of the associated "box" through his "lens". scan The user can drag and drop a vignette into the "Look" zone to see the shot in a bigger format. He also gets metadata about the photo + the possibility to give his feedback Look Look info feedback The user can drag and drop a vignette from one box to the other. The effect depends on the box configuration and/or user choice (is it a transfer, is it a swap, is it a copy?) After the transfer, we gather user feedback (what does it think about the photo he received and/or the photo he sent) QRCode Here... The user can find other "boxes" either by scanning a QRCode or by using the current geo coordinates (GPS) All activities of the user (encountering boxes, manipulating photos, doing transfers) is recorded and made visible on the web site. The user can see the "travel history" of photos, the comments, etc. Fig. 3. Building a social application on top of Boxes and Lenses cities. The artifacts recorded with the tool are shared and used to stimulate interactions between people. From this point of view, the city is conversation topic, a vector for social interactions. Boxes and Lenses, on the other hand, proposes a flexible platform for building applications, where photographs and other artifacts are disseminated in augmented physical environments. Boxes are virtual containers of artifacts. Lenses are software controllers that allow users to interact with the content of Boxes. The decoupling between the boxes and the lenses, both accessible through a RESTful API, and the ability to configure access policies for the boxes gives a lot of flexibility to application developers. In this case, because Boxes can be attached to locations, the city provides a physical context for social interactions. REFERENCES [1] O. Liechti and T. Ichikawa, “A digital photography framework enabling affective awareness in home communication,” Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 6–24, 2000. [2] E. Paulos and T. Jenkins, “Urban probes: encountering our emerging urban atmospheres,” in Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM, 2005, pp. 341–350. [3] R. Picard, “Affective computing for HCI,” in Proceedings of HCI Interna- tional (the 8th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction) on Human-Computer Interaction: Ergonomics and User Interfaces, vol. 1. Citeseer, 1999, pp. 829–833.
  6. 6. [4] V. Kostakos and E. O’Neill, “Cityware: Urban computing to bridge online and real-world social networks,” Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City, pp. 195– 204, 2008. [5] D. Guinard, V. Trifa, and E. Wilde, “A resource oriented architecture for the web of things,” in Proceedings of IoT 2010 (IEEE International Conference on the Internet of Things), Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 2010. [6] A. Zimmermann, N. Henze, X. Righetti, and E. Rukzio, “Mobile in- teraction with the real world,” in Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services. Bonn, Germany: ACM, 2009, pp. 1–3.

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