Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group

University of British Columbia

Full citation: 
Tam, D., "The Design and Field Observation of a Haptic Notification System for Oral Presentation,", M.Sc. Thesis, University of British Columbia, 2012.
Conference session chairs must manage time, usually by reminding speakers of the time remaining through a variety of means (e.g., visual signs with “X” minutes left). But speakers often miss reminders, chairs cannot confirm reminder receipt, and the broken dialogue can be a sideshow for the audience. The experience of speaking in front of an audience, such as at a conference or even during a classroom lecture, can also be cognitively demanding and overwhelming. This further causes speakers to miss reminders from personal timing tools (e.g., cellphone timer). To address these and other concerns, this thesis describes the design and evaluation of HaNS, a novel wireless wrist-worn chair-speaker Haptic Notification System, that delivers tactile timing alerts to unintrusively aid speakers and session chairs time-manage oral presentations. Iterative deployment and observation in realistic settings was used to optimize the attentional characteristics and the chair-speaker interaction. HaNS’s use was then observed through four field observations in three settings: two mid-sized academic conferences (55 speakers, 16 session chairs, 50 audience members), five university research seminars (11 speakers, 5 session chairs, 15 audience members), and four large university lectures (23 by 3 instructors). Through observation and self-reports, existing speaker and session chair timing practices and difficulties are documented. Results demonstrate that HaNS can improve a user’s awareness of time; it automatically delivers salient notifications, unintrusively, privately, and remotely. HaNS also facilitates chair-speaker coordination and reduces distraction of speaker and audience through its private communication channel. Eliminating overruns will require improvement in speaker ‘internal’ control, which our results suggest HaNS can also support given practice. This thesis concludes with design guidelines for both conference-deployed and personal timing tools, supported by haptics or other notification modalities.
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