Chat Lab



ShareIT  is an interdisciplinary project, funded by the UK's EPSRC, and is a collaboration between the Chat Lab and the Pervasive Interaction Lab at the Open University.

The project is investigating how a new generation of shareable technologies, designed specifically for more than one person to use at a time, can enable groups to collaborate more effectively. The technologies include gesture-based wall displays, multi-touch tabletops and interactive tangibles.  

At  Sussex we are exploring children's use of these technologies. Children are not miniature adults, but bring their own cultural context, concerns,cognitive resources and cognitive constraints that all need to be considered: what works for adults won't necessarily work for children. Our first

Children using a digital touch tabletop

study assessed the potential of using a digital touch tabletop  to support children's collaborative learning interactions. Children aged 7-10 worked in groups of three on a collaborative planning task to make a seating plan for their classroom. In one condition (single-touch)  the tabletop surface was designed to allow only one child to interact  with the digital content at a time. In the other condition (multiple-touch), all the children could interact with the digital content at the same time. We found that touch condition did not affect how frequent or how equitable the interactions were, but it did influence the type  of discussion children had. In the multiple-touch condition, children  talked more about the task in hand; in the single-touch condition,they talked more about turn taking. We also found interesting age and gender differences.


Sheep Game - How does the Sheep game teach about sustainability?


Click here to see a YouTube video the sheep game being played.  We conducted an ethnographic study with a multi-touch table in a redundant  church using a game exemplifying Garret Hardin's 'Tragedy of the Commons':the tragedy arises through individualistic use of shared, limited resources, as in the use of common land to graze sheep in medieval  England.

In the Sheep game, each of 3 players can make as many sheep as they  like, to graze on the table and produce jumpers to enrich the player,  but as the number of sheep increases, overgrazing occurs, the grass   fails to re-generate and the sheep begin to die of starvation. Profitability  or sustainability Does the tabletop game help people reflect on the consequences of selfishness, and what happens if we put this technology at the mercy of passers-by 'in the wild'? We are especially interested in how family groups negotiate the dilemmas.