, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 135-143
Date: 24 Apr 2004

Understanding mobile contexts

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Mobile urban environments present a challenge for context-aware computers because they differ from fixed indoor contexts such as offices, meeting rooms, and lecture halls in many important ways. Internal factors such as tasks and goals are different—external factors such as social resources are dynamic and unpredictable. An empirical, user-centred approach is needed to understand mobile contexts. In this paper, we present insights from an ethnomethodologically inspired study of 25 adult urbanites in Helsinki. The results describe typical phenomena in mobility: how situational and planned acts intermesh in navigation, how people construct personal and group spaces, and how temporal tensions develop and dissolve. Furthermore, we provide examples of social solutions to navigation problems, examine mobile multitasking, and consider design implications for mobile and context-aware human–computer interaction.