An Introduction to Gamification in Human-Computer Interaction

User experience (UX) is a field within Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) that studies the whole experience of a user with a product, system, or service. UX focuses on  issues such as usability, ergonomics, cognitive load, and affective experiences. However, in the last years, there is a particular growing interest in understanding users’ motivation to use a product, system, or service. This interest is spawned by observable low engagement rates: it is not enough to have a useful system, one needs to also motivate and engage users in it. One possible solution to this comes from a field of study is called gamification or gameful design1, because its main inspiration comes from understanding the factors that make games fun and motivate people to play them voluntarily with so much engagement. Continue reading

Rise of the Chatbots

Almost two decades ago I saw in the arcades the futuristic fighting game “Rise of the Robots”. As a youngster I was imagining what the future of computing and robotics could be. The game ended up not being that great, regardless of that it wasn’t visually very realistic, but instead, it relied on the gameplay and partly on the player’s imagination for the immersion. Hence, around this time, I was dreaming of tablets (from Star Trek) and completely autonomous robots that would help us with everyday tasks (like terminators, without the killing part of course and maybe the Jetson’s robots?).

Yet the future was not exactly what I was expecting. After all this experimentation and technological progress, it seems that people hyped with Chatbots (or chatterbots) instead! Continue reading

Khandu Cards: Design for Kids… and grown-ups!

I recently received a set of Khandu cards after backing a Kickstarter. These cards are designed by a company called Seven Thinkers, their aim is to get kids thinking like designers early in life. I was interested immediately on reading about them, since part of my research focus is on the idea of design decks. I’ll have a paper published at CHI ’16 on the topic, and I’m working on another paper that will hopefully be accepted soon.

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The fictional characters of Khandu

Design decks are decks of cards that help us work through a design process. These cards work well, because they mix up the lessons that a novice designer needs to learn in order to be a successful designer. In this post, I’ll discuss the format of the Khandu cards, and what I see as the value for novice designers.

The Khandu cards are based on a fictional world where the Khandus live. The Khandus are visible on cards, and some of their problems are described in the challenges. The cards are broken up into several decks. Each comes in a bag with names printed on them for storage. The decks are themed: challenges, people, tools, and actions. The Tool cards are further subdivided into 4 decks: prototyping – materials, prototyping, ideation, and inspiration.

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Quick introduction to field experiments in usability and user experience

This entry tries to be a very short guide on how to perform field experiments for usability and user experience. Fields experiments is reported to have many advantages over laboratory experiments as can be read in the HCI literature [1]. What we try to obtain with field experiments is to overcome the complexity that real contexts represents and cannot be reproduced in a laboratory. As the literature also said, these experiments cannot be replaced by expert evaluations [1] because field experiments focus on the participants and the context: using real users in real context: the weather, user profiles, effectiveness of the locations-based systems, screen resolutions, keyboards… The only way to see how the user and the system performs is taking a ride and practice. As Nielsen [3] and Brewster [2] say, field experiments are always difficult to perform due to the problem that sufficient data must be acquired without interfering in the experiment neither conditioning the participants. Talking about mobile devices in general, its usability is an special concern because of the context and the environment the devices may be used. There are a lot of services or functionalities that depends on the context like location-based services and applications in outdoors which are difficult to simulate in a laboratory. So usability testing in the laboratory will be very limited and will never simulated a fully user case when testing usability in real context with real users.

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The Pythonic Way

Python is a very powerful programming language that understands structural, functional and object oriented programming paradigms. New comers to Python from other languages tend to carry with them their mother (programming) tongue culture. Although they achieve the required task, they might have fallen in the trap of using Python the wrong way. In this post, we cover some efficient tricks to achieve tasks in Python; we call it the Pythonic way. Find an IPython Notebook for all tricks here on our GitHub repository.

Lists, Tuples, Dictionaries and Sets

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