The findings, which have implications for computer program design the world over, will be presented at CHI 2010, the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, being held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, April 10-15.
Last summer, Thomas Smyth, Ph.D. student in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech, was working at Microsoft in Banglaore, India, when he had a thought.
“As you might expect, Microsoft employs a lot of people to maintain the building, so one day we called a couple of them into a room and asked them, ‘What do you do with your phones,’” said Smyth.
After a few interviews, Smyth and fellow researchers from Microsoft India and one from the University of California, Berkeley, set out to the lower-income neighborhoods and interviewed about 30 people on how they used their mobile phones. They found that most people, in addition to calling and texting, used their phones for transferring media files via Bluetooth. Obtaining media this way, via peer-to-peer transfer, is free, whereas downloading content from the Internet can be costly. On the other hand, Bluetooth sharing involves a cumbersome process that many Americans don’t bother with.
“To send a text message on your phone, for instance, it takes three or four steps. If you’ve ever transferred something on your phone with Bluetooth, you know it takes 15 to 20 steps. So for people whom you might not expect to have a lot of expertise in this area, the motivation to transfer music and video files to be entertained seems to be enough to turn these complicated user-interface obstacles into mere speed bumps,” said Smyth.
Some people watched films on their phone, listened to music and recorded lecture notes in school.
“Of course, there’s the one where the guys would use Bluetooth to transfer data with the phone in their pockets while they were doing side-by-side work on a construction site,” said Smyth. “That’s my favorite, because if you really want to transfer a big file, it can take a half an hour over Bluetooth.”
Others removed their microSD chips and use them to transfer files.
“Some people would swap those around, or they would have several microSD chips in their wallet, because that’s a faster way to transfer stuff. There was no end to the kinds of things people would do,” said Smyth.
Some studies have claimed that usability barriers prevent people from being able to use technology to improve their lives, but Smyth and colleagues discovered that their interview subjects had constructed elaborate systems to obtain, view and share their entertainment content. Other types of content related to areas that are typically identified as “needs” by researchers and aid practitioners, such as healthcare or education, did not show up in Smyth’s study.
And the multimedia-capable phones aren’t cheap in India. They often cost more than a month’s salary, yet people said they save for long periods to buy one.
“Maybe we’re putting too much weight on these usability barriers and it’s just more a question of motivation,” said Smyth. “Even if you asked these folks, they might say ‘Oh no, a good job is more important for me,’ because that’s what they think society wants to hear, but the proof is in the pudding here, that they’ve constructed this really remarkable system around entertainment.”David Terraso
David Terraso | Newswise Science News
Physics of bubbles could explain language patterns
25.07.2017 | University of Portsmouth
Obstructing the ‘inner eye’
07.07.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.07.2017 | Life Sciences
26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences