UNITY – A Culturally-Sensitive Environment for Flexible Natural Interaction to Support Transitioning from a Chronic Care Hospital Context

This project, in a partnership with a special chronic care hospital for individuals with neurological and brain disorders, intends to focus on patients that are in the hospital selected for transitioning to live in society again. As changes in the therapeutic procedures for patients means changes in the working procedures for health professionals, this project looks mainly to investigate how ICT can enhance natural interaction among health professionals that can lead to a more connected, tuned and active community, specially considering the nomadic nature of their work.

Therefore, in the Hospital space and surrounds, it is necessary to investigate how a more natural, integrated and environmental ICT interactive system can provide better supportive tools and shared devices for executing those tasks, helping them on the challenge of monitoring and communicating with patients, potentially allowing a smoother transition process for the patients from the Hospital to the community, the main concern and also mandatory by law in Brazil.

More details at the project website.

Information and Communication Technologies to promote socialization: Reviewing the concept of Third Places

Third Places, a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg to describe places that are neither home (first place) nor workplace (second place), they are places where people attend to socialize. They provide a neutral ground for people to freely express themselves. This neutral ground is necessary for civil society and civic engagement, helping to create in their regulars the feeling of belonging. Parks, cafes, bakeries, museums, theaters, churches, bars and squares are examples of third places. These places have a key role in community life forging the cultural profile and strengthening the notion of community of those people. However, modern lifestyle and the big cities can lead people to be more solitary or even have fewer opportunities to attend these places that promote socialization, negatively affecting people quality of life. In this context, this proposal explores how Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can provide people opportunities for socializing independent of the location constraints and time, creating the phenomenon called thirdplaceness. Thus, it is expected to go beyond the traditional third places, providing people opportunities to meet and socialize, reinforcing and extending the concept of third place. To experience the support of ICTs to thirdplaceness even when there is no support third place to community, it is considered in this proposal the use of an ICT interactive art installation, allowing the appropriation of socially abandoned spaces to promote the thirdplaceness, promoting the transformation of the place to a meeting place and conversation. This study developed an installation called WishBoard that explores the potential of mobile interactions with public displays, and allows people to share your posts and individual aspirations with their community. This public sharing would be the opportunity for socialization in that location. From the analysis of shared messages, this study aims to examine the role of ICTs to promote thirdplaceness and verify such messages to try defining the cultural profile of that community.

Go to WishBoard website.

Collab project: Supporting Communication among Healthcare Professionals

COLLAB is an application to support the activities of communication and socialization among healthcare professionals from CAIS Clemente Ferreira Hospital at Lins / SP. The Advanced Interaction Laboratory (LIA) has a partnership with this Hospital, which takes care of patients with mental and neurological problems. The COLLAB has three functionalities: sending messages to all professionals who use the application or for a specific person, public notification of tasks that must be performed and marking the end of a task, which has already been implemented. The application is installed on a server, installed in the Hospital and accessed through the devices that are connected to the intranet. The healthcare professionals can access the application via any web browser, allowing them to use their own devices to access the application or any of the tablets, also available in the Hospital. To the functionality of sending messages and public tasks, we consider the use of existing tables and whiteboards for annotation among healthcare professionals, because it is a common practice in the Hospital. So, was installed in the corridor of the C2PAR ward a TV of 46 inches functioning as an information panel, which shows the last messages sent to all people – messages that are not directed at a specific person, and pending tasks – ordered from most old to the latest one. We use a public TV to promote greater sharing of awareness among professionals, integrating the personal, social and professional contexts, since data collected showed us that most of the sent messages are related to the social and personal context, and only 25% of them are related to patients.

Selfie Café

Selfie Café aims at supporting/encouraging/fostering social interaction among students/faculties/staff and visitors in the environment around the coffee machine in the Computer Department at UFSCar, to increase the number of local regulars. The interaction with the system happens through the use of a large video display (TV or monitor), a webcam, a kinect and the users personal mobile devices, such as mobile phones, tablets. The system allows users to take a photo in a different way, where a wall is transformed into a touch surface, allowing the user to interact with in order to take the photo. After taking the photos, they are stored in the system and, then, it starts a voting competition to choose the best photo taken on site, ie, users can vote for the pictures they like most (the funniest one, the more creative one, etc.). At the end of a specified period, the photo (one person responsible for the photo) with the most votes wins a prize (a free coffee in the machine, for example). Thus, users can interact with the system in two ways: 1 – Taking a photo to participate in the competition; 2 – Voting for the photo(s) they like most.

Using wearable computing to promote and strengthen social links between a distant user and his/her community

Wearable computing has gained the media’s attention in the recent years with the proposal of wearable computing applications from big companies such as Google, Nike and Samsung; with the latest hot topics on wearable being the Apple watch and Ralph Lauren testing its fitness tracking shirts at U.S. Open. However, most applications for wearable computing have focused on either extending the interface for the functionalities present on smartphones or on collecting biometric data for healthcare and quantified-self applications.
We find that these applications do not explore the full potential of wearables. Considering the closeness of wearables to our body, being subsumed in our personal and intimate space, we believe that they should support us as members of a community as well as on our daily activities as users.
Currently on our second prototype, The Cat in the Map wearable project aims at strengthening the social links between users and their community when they are away from it. With this project we defend that wearables have to be capable of playing the role from both the fashion perspective, providing aspects of comfort and also making people desire to have it and use it; as well as from the technology perspective by extending the concept of clothing and integrating information and communication technology (ICT) aspects into the design so that more functionalities can be present in the garment, extending users’ abilities. We bring the challenge on how to explore wearables to support social aspects of users’ lives with their community so that the wearable would strengthen social bonds opening many social possibilities related to emotions, security, partnership and more.