Digital Urban Ambience: Mediating Context on Mobile Devices in the City

Article in Journal of Pervasive and Mobile Computing.

Jesper and Mikael has had an article accepted for the Journal of Pervasive and Mobile Computing written in collaboration with three former Masters Students in HCI. The study revisits ideas from earlier work on the Just-for-Us system (2004-05) but as technology has matured considerably this time we were able to produce a prototype that could be put into use without researchers being present. Extending on the earlier concept of making the invisible visible, the paper explores the concept of Digital Urban Ambience.

Kjeldskov J., Skov M.B., Nielsen G.W., Thorup S. and Vestergaard M. (2012) Digital Urban Ambience: Mediating Context on Mobile Devices in the City. Journal of Pervasive and Mobile Computing (to appear). DOI=10.1016/j.pmcj.2012.05.002


We explore the term digital urban ambience to describe the user experience of mobile devices mediating context in metropolitan areas. Mediated context-awareness explores a constructivist approach to context and aims to provide resources for experiencing context rather than correctly recognizing and adapting to it. Exploring this approach we have built a prototype system, eSpective2, combining maps and augmented reality on a touch phone, and we have studied its use. We conducted a triangulated field study involving 58 participants and up to one month of use. Elaborating on the work of Thibaud (2002), the main finding is that context resources provided through mobile devices digitally contribute to the experience or feeling of urban ambience (1) by adding to the quality of the situation as a whole, (2) as a catalyst for action, and (3) as a sensory background.

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