Why use an Ambient Display?

16 Feb

People want to receive information without sitting in front of flat, square screens used as windows to the digital world (Ishii, 2008). Desktop computers provide too much information available through one small flat screen. Interacting with a GUI through a mouse and a keyboard provides insufficient use of our skills and abilities as humans (Kumpf, 2009). Desktop computers are distracting, intrusive, time-consuming, and require all of the users attention. People want to be able to multi-task. They want to receive information while going about everyday tasks. Users want computers so common and accessible that they are not even aware of their physical presence. People want to have instant access to information to support activities, interests and tasks in the home. Ambient displays are suitable to help create awareness of our environment, people want to know about their environment in which they exist. PARC research outlines that “People want seamless interaction with pervasive systems that deliver seamless performance. Users must be able to quickly and effortlessly make the connections needed to receive the desired services and information.” Ambient displays allow you access to information while not depriving others of their right to do the same. It can be simultaneously perceived by many people. It means that less time is spent in front of a computer so more time can be spent with family and friends. (The new everyday: views on ambient intelligence)

With ambient information the user can decide to pay attention or ignore it and carry on with the task at hand. Ambient displays provide the user with a more efficient, enjoyable, satisfactory, valuable experience of receiving information. They provide more natural interaction between people and content. Ambient displays are nice to use, not confusing and non technical. They provide a more emotional and pleasurable way of experiencing technology. Ambient displays are more intuitive and generally they are appliances with a single application that fit people’s needs and lives. Ambient displays are organised around human needs and incorporated into our activities. Fewer features suit customers needs because it becomes more useable and functional. In a way its like a watch, it doesn’t matter how powerful and accurate the watch is but people are more interested in it’s appearance and aesthetics. Ambient displays focus on convenience rather than performance. It’s a form of Ubiquitous computing or calm technology, which aims to seamlessly integrate computing into the objects and activities of everyday life (Weiser). It aims at making computing environments transparent to users (PARC). Ambient displays are glanceable and can be read quickly like a clock (personal ambient displays).


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