A picture of Ted Leath Ted Leath
Room MG126
Faculty of Informatics
University of Ulster, Magee College
Northland Road, Londonderry, Co. Londonderry
BT48 7JL, Northern Ireland
Email: ta.leath@ulst.ac.uk

The Ubiquitous Object


The following project brief was given:
"Design a object and system which will act as the remote control for all electronic devices in the home (at least). Bear in mind the relationship between the object physically and the system in terms of information."
To begin to focus on the requirements, the following questions were asked: Out of these questions came some answers, and some further questions: The list of devices could include:

Initial Design Decisions

It was thought that it would be beneficial if the ubiquitous object could combine functions with the functions of an object which users already carry with them. Items considered were: It was decided that combination with the functions of a cellular phone would also facilitate external use, and that the object could also double as a home mobile phone.

It was also decided that control of devices should be through a dedicated controller. The controller would receive commands from the ubiquitous object externally via cellular phone network, and internally via an infra-red packet network.

Interface Components

Interface Example

Interface Example

Context Line The Context Line appears at the top of the upper LCD to remind the user of the current context.
LCD for Menu The upper LCD is used for displaying the current context, context menus and optionally, labels for the green and red buttons.
Green and Red Buttons The function which these buttons perform will change according to the current context. For example, in the celluar phone or home mobile phone contexts, the green button performs the "off hook" function while the red button performs the "on hook" function. Labels for these two buttons may also appear over the buttons via the upper LCD.
Menu Button This button cycles through the available menus in the current context.
Clear Button This button clears the current context to its original state.
Context Button This button cycles through the available contexts. It is intended that contexts (device specific software) for different devices would be available on-line through the phone communications capability, and may be easily downloaded.
On/Off Button This button chooses between active and sleeping modes. The user's conceptual model will be power on/off.

Below are examples of a few contexts, and transitions:

Example of Celluar Phone Context

Example of Cellular Phone Context

Example of Television Context

Example of Television Context

Example of Mobile Home Phone Context with Menu Transition

Home Mobile Phone Context Before Menu TransitionHome Mobile Phone Context After Menu Transition

The Outer Case

Model of Outer Casing

Model of Outer Casing

The casing follows a curved design found throughout nature. The central indentation allows the object to fit naturally into the hand, while operating the central buttons with the thumb. The design works equally well with both the right-handed and left-handed.

Ted Leath - last modified May 7th, 1999