Digital Interfaces for Urban Spaces

Lasse Hulgaard & Frederik Moesgaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


The thesis is organized in three parts: First, an introductory chapter will situate our paper in a broader context. Our aim with this chapter is to outline our motivational background and reflections on how this paper fits in our academic context. As our focus has been on IT research and systems design, we will also use the introductory chapter to argue how the thesis can be seen from a business and policy perspective. Second, we will present our paper, Incidental Encounters with Robots. Finally, we will present our appendices including our research documentation. A second paper, Involving Users in Sound Design, which we presented at HCI International 2020 conference, is included in the appendices. This paper was co-authored with our supervisor, Associate Professor Mads Bødker. The reason for including our previous paper is to highlight that both papers are part of a bigger research agenda investigating how to shape future digital interfaces for urban environments. Both papers have been concerned with how such interfaces can be understood and developed from a human-centred perspective. Our current paper is a continuation of some of the processes that we started to explore in our previous paper.
Before moving on, we will present the abstracts of our two papers to set the scene for what to expect when reading our thesis.
Abstracts of Papers Paper 1: Incidental Encounters with Robots.
Mobile robots will soon be part of our urban public environments, yet little is known about how humans and robots interact in such unpredictable and complex social settings. This paper reports on a qualitative field study of more than three hundred ‘incidental’ human-robot encounters in a public outdoor space. We have conducted an ethnomethodologically informed ethnographic inquiry using breaching experiments and membership categorisation analysis to reveal how Incidentally Co-present Persons (InCoPs) interact with and make sense of robots in an urban environment. Through our analysis of observations and interviews, we could identify six different types of InCoPs. Additionally, we have identified seven distinct categories, which people used to make sense of the robot. Each of these categorisations led people to adopt certain expectations and behaviour during the interaction, which has been reported on. Our results further show how ethnomethodology can provide a new perspective to study the behaviour and experience of people incidentally meeting a robot in a public space. With this paper we propose a new approach in Human-Robot Interaction research, where robots are seen from the perspective of being designed to ‘co-exist’ with people and integrate naturally into the urban environment.
Paper 2: Involving Users in Sound Design. (Appendix 5)
Sound plays an important role in our well-being, our experience of the world around us and our understanding of products, services and interactions. Sound affects our sense of place, and it can modulate our feelings, agency and attention. In a world of increasingly ubiquitous digital technologies, sound may prove a valuable resource for sense making as well as experience- and UX design. Yet the possibilities and challenges of user participation in sound design processes are not well understood. This paper reports on a pilot study examining how participants can be involved in different phases of a sound design process. The results and reflections aim to help researchers and designers in an effort to better understand some of the dynamics of moving from a largely expert driven approach to sound design towards a more user-oriented and participatory approach.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and E-business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages31
SupervisorsMads Bødker