Studying Location-Based Reminders on Mobile Phones

Place-Its: A Study of Location-Based Reminders on Mobile Phones by Timothy Sohn, Kevin A. Li1, Gunny Lee, Ian Smith, James Scott, and William G. Griswold, Ubicomp 2005. Some excerpts:

Context-awareness can improve the usefulness of automated reminders. However, context-aware reminder applications have yet to be evaluated throughout a person’s daily life. Mobile phones provide a potentially convenient and truly ubiquitous platform for the detection of personal context such as location, as well as the delivery of reminders. (...) This simple application, with the mobile phone as a platform, permitted the integration of location-based reminders into peoples’ daily practice. (...) an exploratory user study of Place-Its performed with ten participants, over a two-week period in Winter 2005.(...) We conducted our study in three steps, a pre-study questionnaire, a two week long deployment, and post-study interview. (...) We provided each participant with a Nokia 6600 to use during the study.

Conclusions are quite interesting:

Our findings from a two-week deployment of Place-Its help validate that location-based reminders can be useful even with coarse location-sensing capabilities. Notably, location was widely used as a cue for other contextual information that can be hard for any system to detect. On the whole, it appears that the convenience and ubiquity of location-sensing provided by mobile phones outweighs some of their current weaknesses as a sensing platform. This bodes well for the use of mobiles phones as a personal ubiquitous computing platform.

Our study revealed unexpected uses of location-aware reminders. We found that Place-It notes were often used for creating motivational reminders to perform activities that would vary in priority over time. This is similar to using post-it notes in highly visible areas for motivation. The locations for motivational reminders were often set at frequently visited places, such as ‘home’. We also found that a majority of the uses for Place-Its involved communicating with people through a variety of media (e.g. email, phone). Communication is typically not tied to specific locations, implying that location is being used as a cue for other kinds of situational context.

Why do I blog this? because, in my research, I am interested in how location information are disrupting group processes, such as communication.