Who Owns Your Device?

We live in an amazing era of technology. The Internet has opened doors that have been dreamed of for years. By adding computing technology to everyday devices, like televisions, thermostats, appliances, and others, we’ve been able to automate many aspects of our daily life. The ideal experience might look something like this 50s ‘futurist’ promotional film entitled “Design For Dreaming”.

The idea of technology being embedded in every object around you is called The Internet of Things, and is one of the fastest growing areas of emerging technology. These days, manufacturers are adding Internet connection to all types of devices around you. One of the most famous examples is the Nest Thermostat [LINK]. This thermostat allows the user to adjust the temperature throughout the day, and eventually learns the user’s patterns, thereafter adjusting the temperature without intervention.

But there’s a dark side to this kind of technology, one that is becoming more visible as the technology goes through growing pains. In this article, we will discuss some of the major issues with putting a computer in every device you own (or don’t really own, as the case may be). We focus on the domestic space, rather than the industrial space, which has its own challenges and benefits. We discuss both the value and problems with adding an internet connection to a device that previously never needed an internet connection, including the reliance on a company to provide updates, security and privacy concerns, and finally judging the value that these additions provide.

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Thoughts on Usability studies

In the last months, I conducted a few usability studies and upon reflecting on these I decided to share my experience as it might be helpful to anyone starting on usability. This article attemps at summarizing my experience and thoughts on usability experiments.

When trying to start a usability study or experiment, the practitioner or researcher must answer some initial questions about their future work.

Regarding your research, in general, the most important question to answer  is “What is my motivation or why I am doing it?”. In a few words, as a  researcher, you must not only formulate your research question but also, its answer.

Research methods are here to help you create and solve a new question on usability, user experience and also, on human-computer interaction.

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Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs): An Illustrated Explanation

Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) are used everyday for tackling a broad spectrum of prediction and classification problems, and for scaling up applications which would otherwise require intractable amounts of data. ML has been witnessing a “Neural Revolution”1 since the mid 2000s, as ANNs found application in tools and technologies such as search engines, automatic translation, or video classification. Though structurally diverse, Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) stand out for their ubiquity of use, expanding the ANN domain of applicability from feature vectors to variable-length inputs.

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The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intensions

A former colleague, a talented and accomplished user experience professional, recently wrote excitedly of her intension to attend an upcoming UX conference. It was a bit of a throwaway line, likely written in haste, but made in a public forum for consumption by contemporaries and customers alike. Her meaning was clear; the cringe from at least some in her audience equally so. Continue reading

How 1 Million App Calls can Tell you a Bit About Malware – Part 1

Recently, I collaborated with a number of researchers from the Software Systems Laboratory of Columbia University, on a study regarding POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) abstractions. In a nutshell, we measured how and to what extent traditional POSIX abstractions are being used in modern operating systems, and whether new abstractions are taking form, dethroning traditional ones. The results of this study were presented at the 11th European Conference on Computer Systems (EuroSys ’16).

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