Robo TeC by lanyuehua

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									RoboTeC
A user interface for team computing

This paper revisits the foundations of Team Computing and
discusses the process of developing a viable user interface
implementation.

David Nelson, Keith Pham, Amir Zamani
12/11/2010
David Nelson, Keith Pham, Amir ZamaniAmir Zamani


Table of Contents
Revisiting Team Computing (TeC) ................................................................................................................. 3
The Android Platform.................................................................................................................................... 3
The RoboTeC Project and Scope ................................................................................................................... 4
User Personae ............................................................................................................................................... 5
Task Modeling ............................................................................................................................................... 5
Initial Designs and Considerations ................................................................................................................ 5
   Player-Centric Model ................................................................................................................................ 6
   Trigger-Centric Model ............................................................................................................................... 6
   Outcome-Centric Model ........................................................................................................................... 6
   Initial Design Evaluation............................................................................................................................ 6
       Initial Design Evaluation Design ............................................................................................................ 6
       Initial Design Evaluation Results ........................................................................................................... 7
       Initial Design Evaluation Conclusion ..................................................................................................... 7
Revised Design .............................................................................................................................................. 7
       Revised Design Evaluation Design......................................................................................................... 8
       Revised Design Evaluation Results ........................................................................................................ 8
       Revised Design Evaluation Conclusion .................................................................................................. 8
Final Design ................................................................................................................................................... 9
   Final Design Activity Diagram ................................................................................................................... 9
Further Work............................................................................................................................................... 11
References .................................................................................................................................................. 11
Appendix A: Early Design Paratypes ........................................................................................................... 12
   Player-Centric Model .............................................................................................................................. 12
   Outcome-Centric Model ......................................................................................................................... 13
   Trigger-Centric Model ............................................................................................................................. 14




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David Nelson, Keith Pham, Amir ZamaniAmir Zamani


Revisiting Team Computing (TeC)
The purpose of a corporation is to produce profit for its employees and shareholders. In order to do so,
the corporation must provide products or services that customers are willing and eager to purchase. The
issue then, how does one provide compelling products and services?

The products and services must offer more features and more convenience to consumers. These
products must accomplish more while bothering the consumer less. Imagine purchasing a dryer that
would automatically communicate with one’s already existing group of devices, allowing them to
coordinate power usage, pausing the dryer during periods of peak power rates, and restoring normal
function when regular rates return. The initial configuration of the actions undertaken by the group of
devices would occur with a minimum or no setup at all on the part of the consumer. This is the promise
and power of team computing.

In the paradigm of
team computing
presented by Sousa et
al1, devices, known as
players, are grouped
into teams. Teams each
have a specific user-
defined role or
purpose. For example,
an “energy
management” team, as
indicated in the
previous dryer
example, may be
tasked with regulating
power consumption in response to power rates. The players in this team would consist of many
common appliances, such as the aforementioned dryer, or other everyday devices such as a home
thermostat. In this energy management example, when peak power rates are detected by a smart
meter, it can trigger the energy management team to adjust the temperature setting on the thermostat
to lower its overall power usage.

-Must relate back to the corporation and customer/user satisfaction theme


The Android Platform
Android is an operating system developed by Google, Inc. for use in mobile computing platforms, such
as smartphones and tablets. The Google provides a Software Development Kit (SDK) and accompanying
documentation in order to promote third-party development on the platform2. Android has seen much
recent growth in both the United States, the largest smartphone market, and globally. As of August
2010, the platform has grown 851% during the previous year period and now has achieved a 34%

1
    Sousa, Tzeremes, and El Masri, “Space-aware TeC.”
2
    “Android Developers.”

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David Nelson, Keith Pham, Amir ZamaniAmir Zamani


market share in the United States. As a result Android is currently the largest smartphone platform in
the country3.

The Android platform provides a suitable platform upon which to develop a TeC system. The availability
of the aforementioned development tools and documentation facilitate the utilization of the platform.
Furthermore, Android’s high and increasing adoption allows access to an installed user base which
would be knowledgeable regarding the Android user interface and operating system interaction,
allowing any user interface on the platform to leverage existing conventions. As with Krug’s
groundbreaking suitability research regarding websites4, conventions allow the user to experience a
sense of reassuring familiarity and impart an impression of quality upon the entire product or service.
Furthermore, using convention will allow a user to better understand any user interface without
expending much mental effort.


The RoboTeC Project and Scope
The RoboTeC Project is an attempt to implement such a user interface for a subset of the team
computing experience. Using this interface, a user defines the communications and interactions of
players in a team computing environment on the Android platform. In team computing, teams have no
central control and players operate autonomously. This allows team to function despite failures at run-
time and provide a safeguard against inconsistency in the team design itself5. In team computing,
communication patterns amongst players on teams are defined through a player’s activity sheet, a
spreadsheet-based file consisting of event-action pairs6. The TeC Editor would allow common users to
modify the activity sheets indirectly through an interface designed for the purpose.

There are many of areas of research involving team computing not addressed by the RoboTec project,
including the following:
     Player discovery: The
        mechanism by which
        players are recognized and
        by which they are entered
        and removed from the
        system. For the purposes of
        the project, players needed
        to create the energy
        management team and the
        surveillance team indicated
        here were pre-installed
        into the user interface as
        sample players to
        demonstrate the user
        interface’s functionality.


3
  “Android smart phone shipments grow 886% year-on-year in Q2 2010 (Canalys press release: r2010081).”
4
  Krug, Don't Make Me Think, 34-35.
5
  Sousa, “Foundations of Team Computing.”
6
  Sousa, Tzeremes, and El Masri, “Space-aware TeC.”

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           Activity sheet production: The user interface developed would handle all the tasks needed to
            configure the activity sheets, however, it does stop short of producing the sheets.
           Briefing/deploying deploying activity sheets to players: Once the activity sheets are created,
            they will eventually need to be deployed to the affected players in order to enable any changes.


User Personae
The RoboTec Project’s user interface is geared to service the common homeowner in the United States
of America, who is proficient with both reading and typing American English on Android phones. The
user is not presumed to be familiar with the concepts of team computing.


Task Modeling
At a high level, the primary concern is linking the capabilities of the players.


Initial Designs and Considerations
A user should not need to understand the underpinning concepts of team computing, nor the specifics
of how the system works. Instead, a user should need to only know enough to determine the rules of
interaction amongst players. Players each have inherent capabilities. In the surveillance example, a film
camera can be turned on. A motion detector can detect the presence of motion nearby. Linking these
abilities together is the basis of team computing.

While the examples7 documented in Sousa et al allow an individual unversed in the concepts of team
computing to learn its tenets, the user interface designed through the RoboTeC Project needed the
capability to produce more complex interaction constructs, while using simplified terminology to aid the
user. Thus, the action-event pairs described in Sousa et al were termed as outcomes and triggers. The
more complex constructs would need to be defined by the user by building upon the basic capabilities of
the players available to the team.

A slightly modified version of the Sousa et al surveillance team demonstrates the power of more
complex constructs. Perhaps the user is not concerned with a single motion detector sensing motion.
Perhaps the user would feel that the triggering event of a single motion detector detecting motion was
not a significant enough event; perhaps a false positive that would unnecessarily cause the film camera
to record. What if there was a second motion detector? Then if both motion detectors detect motion at
the same time, the user would determine that this would be significant enough to start the film camera.

The combined effect of two motion detectors triggering the same outcome, turning on the film camera
illustrates the use of a custom trigger. In contrast, perhaps there are instead two film cameras to
capture film from multiple angles. If the cameras are set to turn on from the same triggering event, it
would illustrate a custom outcome. The inherent capabilities belong to each player would thus be
classified as basic triggers and basic outcomes. While basic capabilities belong to the individual players
and are immutable, the customized capabilities belong to the team and can be created, modified, and

7
    Ibid.

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removed. The major challenge of the RoboTec Project is organizing and directing the user thought
process in the most natural and efficient manner possible to establish and link these elements.

As the concept of a team is central to team computing, the creation, modification and deletion of teams
is prominently addressed by the user interface as the first item presented to users after authentication.
However, organization of a team’s components and the process of linking individual capabilities could
be addressed through several wildly different means. During the initial design, the three models of
interaction were devised.


Player-Centric Model

This model would organize the players associated with the team immediately after selecting the team
name. Since the team is defined as being comprised of players, this organization was the first suggested
and is perhaps the more natural for those familiar with the team computing concept. Custom triggers
and outcomes are associated with the players involved. For example, if two motion detectors are used
in the same custom trigger, both detectors would link to the same custom trigger.

Trigger-Centric Model

This model allows the user to view, create, and modify triggers after team selection. Once a trigger is
created or an existing trigger is selected, the appropriate, corresponding outcome either selected or
created to link to that trigger. For example, in response to a motion detected (triggering event), turn on
the film camera (outcome). In this paradigm, users would organize their mental model so that “When
event x occurs, do action y.” The advantage of this model is that interaction follows a cause-effect
relationship, making it easier to comprehend for users.

Outcome-Centric Model

This model allows the user to view, create, and modify outcomes after team selection. Once an outcome
is created or an existing outcome is selected, the appropriate, corresponding trigger either selected or
created to link to that outcome. For example, turn on the film camera (outcome), in response to a
motion detected (trigger). In this paradigm, users can organize their mental model so that “Do action x
when event y occurs.” The advantage of this model is that users can select


Initial Design Evaluation

Initial Design Evaluation Design




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Initial Design Evaluation Results

                              Number of Responses vs. Responses
                         10
                          9
   Number of Responses




                          8
                          7
                          6
                          5
                          4
                          3
                          2
                          1
                          0
                               Very Hard    Somewhat       Neutral     Somewhat      Very Easy
                                              Hard                       Easy
                                                         Responses


      -                   Need some time-specific data
      -                   User confusion on how to perform most tasks
      -                   Deletion of teams involving the context menu was especially difficult

Initial Design Evaluation Conclusion
-decided to abandon the usage of the menu button for primary navigation
-decided to include some help was needed text to direct users



Revised Design
      -                   decided to include a “help” button on the majority of screens
      -




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Revised Design Evaluation Design
   - Based on qualitative evaluation because of time constraints

Revised Design Evaluation Results
   - Major resistance to the usage of the help button
   - Some individuals would not see the help button
   - Confusion once team created

Revised Design Evaluation Conclusion
   - Abandoned the usage of the help button altogether, but help text still desired
   - Need for an additional team “landing page”




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David Nelson, Keith Pham, Amir ZamaniAmir Zamani


Final Design
   -   Team Details
   -   Help text persistent on page
Final Design Activity Diagram




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David Nelson, Keith Pham, Amir ZamaniAmir Zamani


Further Work
   -   User access levels
   -   Icons/color/experiment more with text size/font
   -   Categories/sorting outcome/triggers
   -   Graphical representation
   -   Additional tabs for general team information, renaming
   -   Suggested players once initial player selected


References
“Android Developers,” n.d. http://developer.android.com/index.html.
“Android smart phone shipments grow 886% year-on-year in Q2 2010 (Canalys press release:
        r2010081).” Canalys, n.d. http://www.canalys.com/pr/2010/r2010081.html.
Krug, Steve. Don't Make Me Think. 2nd ed. Berkley, California, USA: New Riders Publishing, 2006.
Sousa, J.P. “Foundations of Team Computing: Enabling End Users to Assemble Software for Ubiquitous
        Computing.” In Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems (CISIS), 2010 International
        Conference on, 9-16, 2010.
Sousa, Joao Pedro, Vasilios Tzeremes, and Ala'a El Masri. “Space-aware TeC: End-user development of
        safety and control systems for smart spaces.” In Systems Man and Cybernetics (SMC), 2010 IEEE
        International Conference on, 2914-2921, 2010.




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Appendix A: Early Design Paratypes

Player-Centric Model




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Outcome-Centric Model




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Trigger-Centric Model




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