S5-AS3-4 - Smartwatch-Centered Design and Development in Mobile Computing Classes

2. Research-to-Practice Full Paper
Andrey Esakia1 , Lindah Kotut1
1 Virginia Tech

Full Paper. Smartwatches are unique in the way they provide an interface for interaction—similar to smart phones, while also leveraging affordances inherent in wristwatches such as glanceability. This hybrid nature is especially useful as a means for guiding design scenarios in classroom instruction. In this work, we describe our approach to using smartwatches in a college level computer science class. We first considered different application domains such as community physical activity and how they leveraged smart watches. From these domains, we elicited general ground rules that inform our approach for using smart watches in a computer science course. We then synthesize and describe five design guidelines that guided our approach to teaching and evaluating students’ designs. The guidelines are:  1) delegate prominent watch-face space for typical (smart)watch functions; 2) provide frequently updated glanceable summaries; 3) present users with information about quickly attainable goals; 4) allow users to quickly obtain extra details of the summaries and 5) delegate non-glanceable details onto the smartphone.  We assessed and evaluated these guidelines in a third-year level mobile computing class where students were asked to consider them as part of a three-week design and development assignment that also required them to create a smartwatch-centered application for promoting group physical activity. Their applications were subsequently evaluated by experts. After completing the assignment, the students were asked to complete a survey to capture their experience with the use of the design guidelines, and to also provide general feedback on the suitability of these design goals. From the expert evaluation and the student feedback, we found the design guidelines to be especially useful in three ways: in providing small-screen specific design and development experience, in affording practice and reinforcement of core mobile computing topics, and as a means to meaningfully contribute to socially relevant projects.  We contribute to the computing education corpus by detailing the five design guidelines, how they can be used to lead higher-level computer courses, and how they can be used as a lens in considering design approaches in general.