Ubiquitous Computing in Moving Around on Foot



Walking and technology Keywords: walking


Human mobility can be performed in a multitude of ways, but a fundamental (and to some extent primordial) means of movement is walking. In the fields of technology design, HCI or information systems research, only scant attention has been given to ‘how we go’ (ways of walking), or rather, how technologies now and in the future is, and will be, part of the practice of moving our bodies around on foot.

There is a considerable amount of work on how mobile and (potentially) ubiquitous technologies may be used when ‘on the go’ (REF REF & REF, see also below). So while research focused on human interactions with increasingly mobile and connected technologies has focused on the mobile artefact itself, less has been done to understand how different aspects of basic human mobility might be studied and how such mobilities might play a part in understanding ‘what to build’. In this paper we show examples of how observing and reflecting on walking, as a fundamental activity of everyday life, can support and inspire new ways of thinking about the way in which mobile technologies are designed.

Research question (or approach): to understand the “structure” (bad word) of the experience of walking (the threads of experience, cf. McCarthy & Wright, 2004?) in order to explore walking mobilities and the performance of technology in this most mundane, everyday activity. By approaching walking as a particular (and easy to overlook) way of engagement in the world, the aim of this paper is to

Title suggestions: Taking the concept of mobility in bipedalism to mobility carried in hand (and back again...).

The concept of mobility is “confused” and needs to be unravelled from the ground up - “we’re all becoming mobile” - but what does that mean?

Reflective HCI - reflexivity

Now, take off your shoes and socks. You might be sitting in an office or in a comfortable chair at home. You now have bare feet. At first, it might feel a little uncomfortable or intimidating. Now take a few steps. How does it feel? (THIS EXAMPLE WE NEED TO RETURN TO WHEN WE CLOSE THE PAPER).

The idea is to “translate” embodied walking through the lens of non-rep theory INTO design - and the reason why non-rep theory is appropriate for this is: rather than trying to take a distanced “interpretive” approach (e.g. comparing, observing, making sense of...) or studying the bio-mechanical components of walking, taking a postition from non-representational theory means attempting to take the phenomena at face value, not reducing it to some “latent meaning” or mechanical relationship. To retain the vitality of the practice...

What we can understand from basic “bi-pedality” —

How does mobile technolgu texture walking differently Create a more mindful designer

The design of back-packs - as an example of how people have tweaked wood and fabric, - and that the design of mobile apps (or supposedly mobile apps) should learn about walking in the same ways that the first back-pack designers learned about the design of packs - ergonomy, (could also be shoes) - the back-pack allows for a different relationship to the enviornment and so does the mobile phone/service...

Informing designers by making them mindful of walking...

Related Work

Review the limited literature on walking with technology.

Ergonomy of Walker-Computer Interaction (WCI?)

So, basically some work has been done that looks at the ergonomic aspects of walking and using mobile computers. Kane, Wobbrock, and Smith (2008): Walking Interfaces – tech paper Schildbach & Ruczio (2010): reading performance while walking Lim & Feria (2012): visual search on mobile while walking Mizobuchi, Chignell, and Newton (2005): text entry of walkers Bergstrom-Lehtovirta, Oulasvirta, and Brewster (2011): target acquisition on mobile units for walking users (Ng, Brewster et al. 2014)

Virtual Walking

There is some literature of walking in virtual worlds – since some people have suggested that I bring that up too, this section is dedicated to that.

Epistemology of Walking + Design

Unlike the abovementioned work, Bidwell et al. + Browning + Browning & Bødker etc. have looked at how the world appears for walkers and how we might leverage this in design – These authors have used insights from anthropology, human geography, psychology and social science to suggest that one way to approach explorative design of mobile technologies might be to engage in structured observation and practices that focus on walking bodies. Walking as place making etc. etc. Beyond the mechanical aspects of the obviously challenged ergonomic situation of a walker-computer interaction, the questions that this work raises is connected to the idea that walking as a particular body practice, can help us ask profound questions about the felt qualities (Wright & McCarthy, 2010) of living with mobile technologies.

Embodied Walking

Engaging in an action e.g. walking, which is also known as “activity theory”[REF], requires a continual rebalancing of internal and external knowledge representations. “Internalisation”, for example learning a skill by watching someone, employs phyiscal props and social cues. However acquired intrenal processes sometimes resort to tools when applied under new circumstances. This is known as “Externalisation”. The interplay between intrenalisation and externalisation allows humans to develop abilities to adapt, as their circumstances change. This actively unites human perception, action and knowledge (see Figure []).

For a skilled tool-using mind, a set of external circumstances becomes “about” something [Ambient Commons Ref], for example, a pen may invite writing, boots may invite walking, and a book may invite reading. People learn from their settings and as a result they associate the settings with particular states of intent and they act with particular behaviour. Intent shapes our perception and as a result discovery of affordances [REF Don Norman Reference]. In the other hand, intent iteself is shaped by the presence of known affordances [REF Don Norman] or behaviour is the control of perception [William Powers,...].

William Powers and Andy Clarks in building perceptive technological control systems, argued that engagament with context provides an active resource, and not just a starting point, for processes of movement, memory, and other applications of executive nature attention [Ambient Commons Ref]. To use the environment as an active resource means that skills can neither be acquired nor applied nor explained without it. Activity theory is attached to the physical tools and situated tasks that interest us also known as intrinsic structure. Intrinsic means within the essential nature of something, for example, passage is intrinsic to a door.

Walking creates a relationship between a walker and a place. This relationship is a complex multiple-layer of the material organisation and shape of the landscape, its symbolic meaning, and the ongoing sensual percepton and experience of moving through space. Walking not only offers distinctive forms of embodied practices also (re)produces and (re)interprets space and place. Moreover, walker’s body delineates particular kinds of landscape as suitable for particular kinds of walking [REF Tim Edensor].

The ‘body-in-becoming’ of the walker, as opposed to the ‘body-in-being’ of the farmer, is subject to an often intense, reflexive monitoring about the way in which it moves through, senses and apprehends nature - there are an abundance of essays, fiction and non-ficiton books, poetry. Walking becomes bound up with notions of individuality and self-development, with a retreat from the city and the urban self, and towards a freeing of the bidy, a rediscovery of childish sensation, and aesthetic and moral regeneration. In other words, being the world, informs through the intrinsic structure of situations, that is, with and without mediation. The mediation usually appears in the embodied contexts of everyday life, where it assumes the form, or becomes a feature, of familiar objects such as cars, pavements, shops, .... As the space of movement grows, the space for mental and physical wandering grows too [Tim Edenso REF].

Walking provides more embodiment, more opportunity for effortless fascination, and better engagement than sitting [REF Ambient Common]. Csordas described the body in the city as ‘primarily a performing self of appearances, display and impression management’. While walking in the countryside however, ’you have no dignity to support and the dress-coat of conventional life has dropped into oblivion’ [Mitchell REF 1978]. City walker feels that he or she is under surveilance by other passerbys and subconsciosly occupied in conforming himself to the world. The urban appearance are accompained by those producing sensual overload. A rural walker feels the sensation at a slower rhythm.

There are an abundance of arguments by novelists and philosphers on embodied lone walking vs accompained walking. These arguments assume that the countryside must be experienced in unmediated fashion if the walker is to discover revelation in nature and the self.

Either urban walking or rural walking, body is the means or the medium through which we experience and feel the world; we act or behave on the information or knowledge we perceive or feel in the world to constitute a ’being-in-the-world’. Bodies belong to places and help to constitute them whether they stay in place, move through place or move towards other spaces [REF Casey, 1996]. Body can never be assumed to passively perform the walk.

Theories about the relationship between the body and space don’t neglect the material character of space or the sensual properties of the body. In other words, the material, spatial, sensual and tmeporal contingencies of any walk mean that the walkeris in experience, feels and thinks in their movements through space and time [REF Robinson 1989]. Games [REF Games 1991] argues that the walking body is moved by affect and its movement invokes memories which are involuntary.

In walking of all kinds, the body can never mechanically pass seamlessly through rural space informed by disruptive norms and practical techniques. The interruptions of stomach cramps and hunger, headaches, blisters, ankle strains, limbs that ‘go to sleep’, muscle fatigue, mosquito bites and a host of other bodily sensations may foreground an overwhelming awareness of the body that can dominate consciousness. Moreover, the terrain and climate are apt to impose themselves upon the body, irrespective of discourses about the rural idyll and the romantic countryside. The body must perform certain tasks, which may be painful or pleasurable in their novelty, or challenging in their awkwardness. Walkers must avoid barbed wire, be wary when passing through fields, make sure they do not step in cowpats or mud or in holes, step over logs, leap across streams, negotiate stepping stones and stiles, swat swarms of flies away, avoid brambles, nettles and thistles. These actions dramatically involve bodily actions and reveal physical properties. For instance, climbing over an unstable and swaying fence, the walker may become suddenly aware of the body’s mass and weight. Environment and climate thus impose upon walking strategies and sensations. The tactile qualities of many rural paths produce a mindfulness about one’s balance as well as a practical and aesthetic awareness of textures underfoot and all around. The walking body treads across rocky ground, springy forest floor, marsh and bog, rough tracks, heathery moorland, long grass, mud, root-lined surfaces, pasture, tarmac and autumnal leafy carpets. Biting insects inhabit long grasses, rain drenches clothes, frosty air freezes body parts.

Amato [REF On Foot, page 153] reviews city walking and argues that cities fostered new generations of walkers: displined pedestrains, the speeding commuter, the idling window shopper, flaneur and marching groups usually orgnised by one or two leaders. Urban environments are more and more often designed in order to be distinctive, vibrant and beautiful, thus creating – or so the argument goes – memorable sensory experiences for the people who pass through them [REF Allen, 2006; Klingman, 2007; Lonsway, 2009; Thrift, 2004]. Degen and Rose [REF Degen Rose 2012] engaged with this argument, firstly, by arguing that urban spaces similar to rural spaces are indeed experienced with feeling. Even people visiting rather ordinary town centres can describe a very rich range of sensory engagements with those places. These encounters are multisensory. Sight, touch, sound and smell in particular are all part of how these towns are experienced. And these experiences of place are vary considerably from one place to a