Towards the design of Eco-Feedback Technologies for families - Thesis Defence

M-ITI PhD student Mary Barreto had her Doctoral Program in Computer Science - Human-Computer Interaction's defence last Monday. The title of the Thesis was Towards the design of Eco-Feedback Technologies for families.
Increasing levels of pollution and carbon emissions have generated an interest in developing interventions strategies to reduce these levels, particularly with regard to residential energy consumption. Within Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), this increased interest has been reflected in the update of the so-called eco-feedback technologies, ones that provide feedback on individual or group behavior with the goal of increasing awareness to reduce environmental impact. However, much of the work on sustainability within HCI has treated eco-feedback technologies as a single-user interaction problem, thus disregarding the role families have on affecting their members’ behaviors. This thesis seeks to analyze the impact of eco-feedback technology in households in terms of their energy consumption practices and routines, as well as their communication and coordination patterns around energy consumption. We employ the Social Translucence framework (Erickson & Kellogg, 2000) as a theoretical lens adopted for the design of systems that can reach family units through the action of three properties: visibility, awareness and accountability. This work has demonstrated families have specific motivations for sustainable behaviors related to their household role, values and with the education of their children. Eco-feedback technologies increased visibility and awareness of energy consumption behaviors by enhancing its presence within family discussions. The technology supported family members with data to confront others, but also, through which they felt accountable. Family members preferred condensed, contextualized and indirect feedback information. Feedback that indicated directly actors of consumption or generated inferences was seen as a source of conflicts within the households. This works goal is to provide design guidelines and implications for the human-computer interaction community in terms of the design of eco-feedback systems that fit families characteristics. On an added level, promote higher levels of engagement and behavior change in the long term by educating the next generations.
Keywords: Human-Computer Interaction, Sustainability, Eco-feedback, Families, Family members, Social Translucence, Motivations.
Congratulations on your great work, Mary! 

MET represented at CHI PLAY Game Design Competion

The CHI PLAY Student Game Design Competition creates a unique opportunity for students from a variety of backgrounds (e.g., computer science, game design, fine arts, HCI) to showcase a game they have developed (interpreted in a broad manner as any interactive play system) in an international competition. It provides CHI Play attendees with engaging and playable exemplar games that demonstrate emerging student talent and inspire future work.
Please meet the team:
Marco Vieira (first on the left) is a MET Student, and his group project developed in Pittsburg called PowerFall, a 2D arcade-style two-player collaborative game with players’ voice as the only input mechanism, was one of the finalists of the competition. In the game, two players are represented by two cartoon characters tied back-to-back under a falling parachute. The players need to shout into two smartphone microphones while playing. The volume of their voice is used to navigate the parachute horizontally. The objective of the game is to avoid various hazardous obstacles and safely land on the ground. The novelty of the game lies in two aspects. First, PowerFall explores the emerging living room form factor consisting of large panel displays and smartphones. Second, PowerFall transforms the volume of players’ voice into the force applied to the parachute, which tunnels the real physical world to the virtual game world.


Powerfall Game images:

To know more about the game, watch the video:
The ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY) is a new international and interdisciplinary conference series (sponsored by ACM SIGCHI) for researchers and professionals across all areas of play, games and human-computer interaction (HCI), we call it: “player-computer interaction”.CHI PLAY grew out of the increasing work around games and play emerging from the ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) over the last several years. The goal of the conference is to highlight and foster discussion of current high quality research in games and HCI as foundations for the future of digital play.
All nominees will earn a Certificate of Recognition. At the conference, a panel of experts as well as the conference attendees will try out and choose a winner from a set of nominated games. The winning entries will be awarded during the Closing CHI PLAY 2014 ceremony.
Powerfall was not the winner project, but Marco Vieira got really good feedback from all the players, such as "Where can I buy the game?" or "It is super fun, I want to play with my friends!"
To learn more about the Conference go to

Talk Invitation

Brief CV:
Carlos M. Travieso-González received the M.Sc. degree in 1997 in Telecommunication Engineering at Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), Spain; and Ph.D. degree in 2002 at University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC-Spain). He is an Associate Professor from 2001 in ULPGC, teaching subjects on signal processing and learning theory. His research lines are biometrics, biomedical approaches, data mining, machine learning, signal/image/video/sensor processing, prediction system, biodiversity conservation applications and environmental intelligence. He has researched in more than 33 International and Spanish Research Projects, some of them as head researcher. He is co-author of 2 books, co-editor of 8 Proceedings Book, Guest Editor for two international journals and up to 15 book chapters. He has over 210 papers published in international journals and conferences. He has been reviewer in different international journals and conferences since 2001. He is member of IASTED Technical Committee on Image Processing from 2007 and member of IASTED Technical Committee on Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems from 2011. He will be General Chair on and InnoEducaTIC 2014, and was General Chair on IEEE-IWOBI 2014, IEEE-INES 2013, JRBP 2012, NoLISP 2011, and Co-Chair on IEEE-ICCST 2005. He was Vice-Dean from 2004 to 2010 in Higher Technical School of Telecommunication Engineers in ULPGC. Nowadays, he is a Vice-Dean of Head of Graduate and Postgraduate Studies from March 2013.
Please join us tomorrow!

Meeting of the Ph.D.s in Informatics Engineering

The Ph.D. in Informatics Engineering is a two-year program with the primary goal of producing highly qualified professionals and researchers in the area of computer science.

The Program leadership has recently been through a change and Prof. Sergi Bermúdez i Badia, the former director has been replaced by Prof. Eduardo Fermé  as the current director. These photos were taken during a meeting between the Ph.D. students and both the previous and current Directors. The goal of the meeting was not only to discuss possible questions related to this transition, but also to discuss other relevant information regarding the Ph.D. program and the students who are preparing themselves to become newly qualified Ph.Ds.
Learn more about the Ph.D. in Informatics Engineering here.
The Program has recently went through a change. Prof. Sergi Bermúdez i Badia was the former director, but Prof. Eduardo Fermé  is now the current director. These photos were taken during a meeting between the Ph.D. students and both Directors. The goal of the meeting  was not only to discuss possible questions related to this transition, but also to discuss other relevant information regarding the Ph.D. and the students who are preparing themselves to be the new Ph.D.s.
Learn more about the Ph.D. in Informatics Engineering here.

M-ITI Seminars

Madeira-ITI organises seminars and invited talks in the areas of Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction.
Valentina Nisi & Raffaella Nisi
9 October, 2014 - 18:00

Al-Kimiya is the ancient discipline between science and metaphysics, which transforms reality through the creative impulse, manual dexterity, imagination and enthusiasm. Like an alchemical process this exhibition fuses the different expressions of Valentina Nisi and Raffaella Nisi, through various techniques inspired primarily by a single theme: the beautiful landscapes of Madeira Island. The alchemists believed that the material world is composed of raw material in various forms, the first of these forms were the four elements (water, fire, earth and air). The qualities of leading elements and their proportions determined as a subject. 

Learn more about the exhibition and the artists here.

Sophie Buergin
12 September, 2014 - 14:00

Session Abstract:

An introduction on Stanford's ME310 Design Thinking Method and Design Ethnography will lead into the topic of the importance of breaking assumptions for user-centered innovation. During a hands-on session participants will experience how iterative user engagement enables creative teams to enrich ideas and inspire human-centered product and service innovation.

Short bio: Sophie Buergin is a Design Ethnographer / Experience Researcher and Design Thinking Method Coach from Switzerland. She has worked in a design thinking team for Deutsche Bank AG innovating customer advisory of the future. Afterwards she coached global student innovation teams at the University of St. Gallen who collaborated with Stanford's ME310 Design Thinking course. After producing the first Swiss surf film and finishing the MSc in Design Ethnography at Dundee University Scotland, Sophie is currently working on setting up a summer program for students and SME's to foster innovation within Switzerland.

Research posts

M-ITI often participates in international conferences. Here is a list of the latest conference presentations
Luisa Soares, PhD, Invited Assistant Professor of Madeira-ITI, attended the ICELW in New York City 10-12th of June 2014. Within the scope of organizational psychology, focusing on the dynamics of co-...
The Interaction Design and Children (IDC) 2014 taking place at Aarhus, Denmark from the 17th to 20th of June, and some of our researchers are there, presenting the following papers : 17th...
 José Luís Silva, PhD, Invited Assistant Professor of Madeira-ITI, is attending the 29th Symposium On Applied Computing in the historic city Gyeongju, Korea...