Dissertation Proposal: A Device to Facilitate the Smooth Running of a Busy Modern Household

These days many of us experience difficulties achieving an effective/amenable work/life balance. Communications hardware and applications have so far focussed on enabling flexibility on the work front. Those with Internet access at home are sometimes able to bring work home allowing them to combine domestic responsibilities and work commitments. However there is little beyond mobile phone technology that facilitates access to domestic data. With this project I hope to produce a prototype for a device that will address the situation.

Using Interaction Design techniques I will survey a cross section of the population to discover exactly what applications will prove to be the most useful, and how the users might want to interact with it. At the moment I am imagining that a remotely accessed shopping list and interconnected diaries/calendars for each member of the household might be popular, and that a Nintendo DS style touchscreen that reads handwriting might be a good way to go for input because shopping lists are still generally handwritten. The device will be small and light enough to live on the fridge door as this place is commonly used as a communication point in many households. I would like the device to be able to synchronise with the master calendar and the individuals own mobile phone using Bluetooth technology. The data stored by the device, as I see it at the moment, will be accessible remotely, possibly using phone technology. There may be security issues with having calendars of children’s appointments accessible via the web which need to be thoroughly examined and which is why I would like to research the possibility of using a direct phone connection.

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