Designing and Evaluating Presence in Absence Systems

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Kasper Garnæs
  • Olga Grünberger
4. term (INF10 - Master Thesis), Informatics, Master (Master Programme)
The overall topic of this master thesis is the design and evaluation of systems supporting presence in absence. Feeling the presence of an intimate partner despite the fact that he or she is not physically co-present is an important part of an intimate relationship and supporting intimate relationships is an emerging area within human computer interaction (HCI) research. No comprehensive framework exists for describing presence in absence and consequently we treat the concept through the related concepts social presence and connectedness.

To understand how presence in absence systems have been designed, we examine and classify a selection of HCI research papers describing systems related to social presence and connectedness within social relationships which thus have the potential for supporting presence in absence. We also contribute to this class of systems by designing a system with the purpose of supporting presence in absence called The Cube. This system facilitates expressive and emotional communication through graphical symbols representing the code language shared between intimate partners.

To investigate how to evaluate presence in absence systems, we carry out evaluations of The Cube in regard to usability and ability to support presence in absence. These evaluations are conducted in respectively a laboratory setting and in a field setting during a six-week process involving a total of ten intimate couples. By employing similar evaluation techniques we are able to compare the data collected in the two different settings.

The results of the thesis fall within three areas. First, we present a classification schema containing a range of presence in absence systems. Second, we present our experiences during the design and evaluation of a presence in absence system. Third, we present lessons learned concerning how to evaluate presence in absence systems.

This thesis is not documented through a traditional report. Instead it consists of three research papers and a main report. Each of the papers represents an individual contribution to the presence in absence research field and the papers can be read in any order. The main report in hand explains the overall contribution of the thesis, describes the relationship between the papers, and presents the essential results. Through this process we address the research questions of the thesis.
Publication dateJun 2005
ID: 61065015