Locating family values: A field trial of the Whereabouts Clock

Barry Brown, Alex Taylor, Shahram Izadi, Abigail Sellen, Joseph Jofish’ Kaye, and Rachel Eardley


We report the results of a long-term multi-sited field trial of a

situated awareness device for families called the 'Whereabouts Clock'. The

clock displayed family members' current locations as one of four privacypreserving,

deliberately coarse-grained categories: 'Home', 'Work', 'School', or

'Out'. In use, the clock supported not only family co-ordination but also more

emotive aspects of family life - such as reassurance, connectedness, identity and

social touch. This emphasized aspects of family life frequently neglected in

ubicomp - particularly the ways in which families' awareness of each others'

times and schedules contributes to a sense of identity as a family. We draw

further on the trial results to differentiate between location as a technical aspect

of awareness systems and what we characterise as location in interaction.

Location in interaction is revealed as an emotional, accountable and even moral

part of family life.


Publication typeInproceedings
Published inProceedings of Ubicomp 2007
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