In this post I’d love to bring some light on the research topic I’m working on since 2009. As you could notice from my old MSDN blog, my previous projects were all around building a stack of context-aware system, with “sensing”, “reasoning”, “storage”, and “UX” parts.
In one my previous posts I’ve put some information about projects I’ve worked on, in this post I’d love to bring several research questions of my current project into your attention:
1. How we can help people to organize their activities & tasks?
2. How we can help people to work in distributed groups effectively together?
1. Organize Activities & Tasks
a. How users can separate tasks?
b. How users can restore from interruptions?
c. How users can recall past tasks & activities?
2. Work Effectively together in Distributed Groups
a. Shared activities
b. Group awareness
My approach to solve these problems (and therefore answer to research questions) is building of a Digital Work Environment (DWE) – you can read more about previous approaches in this area in the book “Beyond Desktop Metaphor” whose editors are my MSR Mentor Mary Czerwinski and Victor Kaptelinin.
An example of real-world DWE is a Windows Shell, as well as environments like KDE, Gnome in Linux, and special environment used in Mac OS X.
Unfortunately, none of these DWEs can effectively solve these user problems, and that’s one of the particular reasons for me to start my research work.
It’s worth to note that my vision of DWE hugely builds upon context-aware computing principles which were driving my research agenda since 2007.
The “Project Universe” I’ve worked on last year is a very early example of such a DWE, but in my Ph.D. work I’m going to embrace the ideas of Project Universe, augment them with novel principles of interaction that I’ve learned about during my work at Microsoft and now at MSR, and make my work to be an answer to the questions that are top of my mind for now.