Operating Appliances with Mobile Phones – Strengths and Limits of a Universal Interaction Device

  • Christof Roduner
  • Marc Langheinrich
  • Christian Floerkemeier
  • Beat Schwarzentrub
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4480)


Mobile phones are increasingly becoming ubiquitous computational devices that are almost always available, individually adaptable, and nearly universally connectable (using both wide area and short range communication capabilities). Until Star Trek-like speech interfaces are fully developed, mobile phones seem thus poised to become our main devices for interacting with intelligent spaces and smart appliances, such as buying train passes, operating vending machines, or controlling smart homes (e.g., TVs, stereos, and dishwashers, as well as heating and light). But how much can a mobile phone simplify our everyday interactions, before it itself becomes a usability burden? What are the capabilities and limitations of using mobile phones to control smart appliances, i.e., operating things like ATMs or coffee makers that typically do not benefit from remote control? This paper presents a user study investigating the use of a prototypical, mobile phone based interaction system to operate a range of appliances in a number of different task settings. Our results show that mobile devices can greatly simplify appliance operation in exceptional situations, but that the idea of a universal interaction device is less suited for general, everyday appliance control.


Mobile Phone Remote Control User Study Ubiquitous Computing Smart Home 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Kindberg, T., et al.: People, Places, Things: Web Presence for the Real World. Mob. Netw. Appl. 7(5), 365–376 (2002)zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Griswold, W.G., et al.: ActiveCampus: Experiments in Community-Oriented Ubiquitous Computing. Computer 37(10), 73–81 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Intille, S.S.: Designing a Home of the Future. IEEE Pervasive Computing 1(2), 76–82 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Davies, N., Gellersen, H.-W.: Beyond Prototypes: Challenges in Deploying Ubiquitous Systems. IEEE Pervasive Computing 1(1), 26–35 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Carter, S., et al.: Digital Graffiti: Public Annotation of Multimedia Content. In: CHI ’04: CHI ’04 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Vienna, Austria, pp. 1207–1210 (2004), doi:10.1145/985921.986025Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Smith, M.A., et al.: Object AURAs: A Mobile Retail and Product Annotation System. In: EC ’04: Proc. of the 5th ACM Conf. on Electronic Commerce, May 2004, pp. 240–241. ACM Press, New York (2004), doi:10.1145/988772.988813CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Rohs, M., Roduner, C.: Camera Phones with Pen Input as Annotation Devices. In: Pervasive 2005 Workshop on Pervasive Mobile Interaction Devices (PERMID), May 2005, pp. 23–26 (2005)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Myers, B.A., Stiel, H., Gargiulo, R.: Collaboration Using Multiple PDAs Connected to a PC. In: CSCW ’98: Proc. of the 1998 ACM Conf. on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Seattle, Washington, United States, pp. 285–294. ACM Press, New York (1998), doi:10.1145/289444.289503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ballagas, R., et al.: BYOD: Bring Your Own Device. In: UbiComp 2004 Workshop on Ubiquitous Display Environments (2004)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Beigl, M.: Point & Click - Interaction in Smart Environments. In: Gellersen, H.-W. (ed.) HUC 1999. LNCS, vol. 1707, pp. 311–313. Springer, Heidelberg (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Myers, B.A., et al.: Taking Handheld Devices to the Next Level. Computer 37(12), 36–43 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hodes, T.D., et al.: Composable Ad-Hoc Mobile Services for Universal Interaction. In: MobiCom ’97: Proc. of the 3rd Annual ACM/IEEE Int. Conf. on Mob. Comp. and Networking, Budapest, Hungary, Sep. 1997, pp. 1–12. ACM Press, New York (1997), doi:10.1145/262116.262121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ponnekanti, S., et al.: ICrafter: A Service Framework for Ubiquitous Computing Environments. In: Abowd, G.D., Brumitt, B., Shafer, S. (eds.) UbiComp 2001. LNCS, vol. 2201, pp. 56–75. Springer, Heidelberg (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Olsen, D.R., et al.: Cross-modal interaction using XWeb. In: UIST ’00: Proc. of the 13th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, San Diego, California, United States, Nov. 2000, pp. 191–200. ACM Press, New York (2000), doi:10.1145/354401.354764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Nichols, J., et al.: Generating Remote Control Interfaces for Complex Appliances. In: UIST ’02: Proc. of the 15th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, Paris, France, Oct. 2002, pp. 161–170. ACM Press, New York (2002), doi:10.1145/571985.572008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Zimmermann, G., Vanderheiden, G., Gilman, A.: Prototype Implementations for a Universal Remote Console Specification. In: CHI ’02: CHI ’02 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, Apr. 2002, pp. 510–511. ACM Press, New York (2002), doi:10.1145/506443.506454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    LaPlant, B., et al.: The Universal Remote Console: A Universal Access Bus for Pervasive Computing. IEEE Pervasive Computing 3(1), 76–80 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Rukzio, E., et al.: An Experimental Comparison of Physical Mobile Interaction Techniques: Touching, Pointing and Scanning. In: Dourish, P., Friday, A. (eds.) UbiComp 2006. LNCS, vol. 4206, Springer, Heidelberg (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ailisto, H., et al.: Bridging the physical and virtual worlds by local connectivity-based physical selection. Personal Ubiquitous Comput. 10(6), 333–344 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Koskela, T., Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila, K.: Evolution towards smart home environments: empirical evaluation of three user interfaces. Personal Ubiquitous Comput. 8(3-4), 234–240 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Rode, J.A., Toye, E.F., Blackwell, A.F.: The fuzzy felt ethnography-understanding the programming patterns of domestic appliances. Personal Ubiquitous Computing 8(3-4), 161–176 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Nichols, J., Myers, B.A.: Studying the Use of Handhelds to Control Smart Appliances. In: ICDCSW ’03: Proc. of the 23rd Int. Conf. on Distributed Computing Systems, May 2003, pp. 274–279. IEEE Computer Society Press, Los Alamitos (2003)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Norman, D.: The Design of Everyday Things, 2nd edn. Basic Books, New York (2002)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lewis, C., Rieman, J.: Task-Centered User Interface Design – A Practical Introduction. University of Colorado (1993),
  25. 25.
    Roduner, C.: The Mobile Phone as Universal Interaction Device – Are There Limits? In: MobileHCI ’06 Workshop on Mobile Interaction with the Real World (Sep. 2006)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christof Roduner
    • 1
  • Marc Langheinrich
    • 1
  • Christian Floerkemeier
    • 1
  • Beat Schwarzentrub
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Pervasive Computing, ETH Zurich, 8092 ZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations