This project explored the use of a simple message board for the home. HomeNote is a prototype device which displays messages sent from mobile phones. It also supports the local scribbling of notes on the screen with a stylus. We envision such a device being used by busy families in central places in the home, such as the kitchen.

HomeNote builds on earlier work by Cheverst et al. (2003) and their use of a text message board in a care home, and also by O’Hara, Harper et al. (2005) who deployed a similar device into a household in London. With HomeNote, we extend the work by looking more broadly at the home environment and by looking at the ways local scribble is used in conjunction with remote communication via text messaging.

HomeNote is interesting as a prototype device in the way it is exploring a new genre of communication. By this we mean that:

  • HomeNote allows the family to communicate with a place, rather than with a person. This makes it different from texting or calling someone else’s mobile phone, for example.
  • HomeNote messages have value in large part because of where they are seen, unlike other messaging channels which are not tied to a particular place.
  • HomeNote messages, while they may be directed to a particular person, are not personal, and broadcast to anyone in the family.
  • HomeNote messages are persistent. The display surface is always on, visible, and dedicated just to messaging. They are pushed to users rather than pulled by them. This makes HomeNote different from email, for example.

HomeNote messages make themselves noticed without being too intrusive. This is because they are displayed in places that are peripheral rather than central (e.g., the wall rather than the TV or PC).

Five households used our “HomeNote” device for approximately a month. The results show a diversity of types of communication which highlight the role of messaging both to a household and to a place. It also shows the ways in which these kinds of messages enable subtle ways of requesting action, expressing affection, and marking identity in a household – communication types which have received little attention in the research literature. These in turn point to new concepts for technology which we describe in our paper.

Related Publications

Sellen, A., Harper, R., Eardley, R., Izadi, S., Regan, T., Taylor, A. S. and Wood, K. R. Situated messaging in the home. Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work, CSCW '06. Banff, Canada, (2006), 383-392.

Cheverst, K., Dix, A., Fitton, D., Friday, A., Rouncefield, M. Exploring the utility of remote messaging and situated office door displays, Mobile HCI 2003, September 2003, Udine, Italy.

O’Hara, K., Harper, R., Unger, A., Wilkes, J, Sharpe, B., Jansen, M. TxtBoard: from text-to-person to text-to-home. Procs of CHI 2005. Portland, OR, (2005)


Abigail Sellen
Richard Harper
Rachel Eardley
Alex Taylor
Tim Regan
Shahram Izadi
Ken Wood