Awareness Systems

Part of the series Human-Computer Interaction Series pp 425-445


Supporting Family Awareness with the Whereabouts Clock

  • Abigail SellenAffiliated withMicrosoft Research Email author 
  • , Alex S. TaylorAffiliated withMicrosoft Research
  • , Joseph ‘Jofish’ KayeAffiliated withNokia Research Center
  • , Barry BrownAffiliated withDept. of Communications, UC San Diego
  • , Shahram IzadiAffiliated withDept. of Communications, UC San Diego

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We report the results of a field trial of a situated awareness device for families called the “Whereabouts Clock”. The Clock displays the location of family members using cellphone data as one of four privacy-preserving, deliberately coarse-grained categories (HOME, WORK, SCHOOL or ELSEWHERE). The results show that awareness of others through the Clock supports not only family communication and coordination but also more emotive aspects of family life such as reassurance, connectedness, identity and social touch. We discuss how the term “awareness” means many things in practice and highlight the importance of designing not just for family activities, but in order to support the emotional, social and even moral aspects of family life.