Our group addresses the interplay between people and information technology in the everyday world. We seek to approach the design, development and deployment of new information technology from a multi-disciplinary perspective in which technology and the experience it provides are both seen as two sides of a single research process. The development of new ubiquitous computing technology is combined with the design of engaging user experiences as a way to develop innovative systems that are strongly interwoven into specific usage scenarios and able to extend the boundaries of computing into everyday life.
Our research objectives can be seen as revolving around three main topics: urban sensing, open displays networks and ubiquitous services.
Work on urban sensing focuses on the how to use data generated by information technologies to increase our understanding of the urban space and how it is lived by people. Building on previous work on context-awareness, this research objective has evolved into a new stage where modelling of dynamic spaces is seen as a fundamental enabling technology for smart places. This enhanced view of the pulse of the city may help urban planners in designing new facilities, but it may also become the ground for a whole generation of digital services. Some of the research challenges include the acquisition of real time data about city dynamics, data fusion, cooperative maps construction, visualization of dynamic data, and modeling of the human mobility. Main projects include SUM and TICE.Mobilidade, and the urban mobile sensing tool that the group has been developing to support experience sampling studies.
Open display networks
Work on open display networks aims to develop and evaluate new concepts of situated display. Even though large public displays have always made part of the ubiquitous computing vision (the “boards” in Weiser’s vision), their use has attracted considerably more interest in recent years and their potential applications go far beyond today’s traditional uses of public displays, i.e., advertising and dissemination of information to passive users. They should enable new and more engaging user experiences by allowing users to appropriate them for their own communication purposes. Our objective is to study the tools and practices that may enable public displays to become a new communication medium for society. This involves work at the supporting technologies as well as on the new publication and interaction concepts needed to turn that vision into reality. Main projects include the FET-Open PD-Net project and the CMU-Portugal project WESP.
Work on ubiquitous information services is focused on the development of new services for ubiquitous computing. This work combines empirical development of specific services with the study of the technological frameworks that may support that development as well as the methodologies that may guide their design. The objective is to understand the development practices that may be more effective in leading to successful services. At the technology side, this involves understanding how the technological framework may impact the service functional and non-functional properties, as well as the role that the vast eco-system of ubiquitous services may play in the development of new services. At the design side, it involves informing design with input from the specific usage situations for which the services are being developed as well as consideration of how the proposed features may impact on Human values. Main projects include the Portuguese national initiative for mobile payments (MobiPag).