I am Calm: Towards a Psychoneurological Evaluation of ABC Ringtones

John N.A. Brown, Jorge Oliveira, Saskia Bakker

pp. 55-69, download


Anthropology-Based Computing (ABC) suggests that socio-cultural, neurological, and physiological parameters of normal human interaction with the world can be applied to current technology in order to improve Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). To challenge this theory, we hypothesized smartphone ringtones that could be targeted to specific people in a manner that would inform them without disturbing their work or the work of others. In this paper we report the quantitative data from the first formal trials of these ‘ABC ringtones’. Beta Wave activity patterns were recorded in the brains of 10 participants exposed to 5 different ringtones at three different volumes while they were focused on performing a typing test in a noisy environment. Our preliminary findings seem to show that the ABC ringtones - at a volume too low to be consciously heard - triggered a response in the pre-attentive part of the brain, and that the embedded information was transferred to the attentive part of the brain by an internal mechanism that did not disrupt the work being done in the typing task. We propose that these results provide preliminary evidence for the ABC model of HCI and its explanation of the centering mechanism that is requisite if Peripheral Interaction is to be applied in changing Ubiquitous Computing into Calm Technology.

keywords: Anthropology-Based Computing (ABC), Calm Technology, Cocktail Party Effect, HCI, Human Factors, Qualitative Data Collection, Ringtones, Safety, System Usability Scale, Peripheral Interaction, Ambient Awareness, Audio


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