Interaction Design Research 9.2013 – 7.2014

Hi everyone, its been a while since I posted to aDesignedPath. I have been rigorously blogging on for the past year or so.

Please feel free to check out my work as the Director of the Blended Interactions Studio at RIT. You will find all sorts of interaction design research relating to Mobile UX, Blended Theory, Mixed Reality, Augmented Reality and software that geo-curates digital content to physical locations.

Enjoy! – brian

Blended Interactions Workshop

On Thursday, October 3rd from 1:30pm to 5pm, the Blended Interactions Studio in concert with the GCCIS IST department will be hosting the Blended Interactions Workshop. Researchers from Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Interaction Design, Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design and RIT’s MS Human Computer Interaction program will showcase their latest evaluated interaction design innovations in digital tourism, presence and user experience design as mobile services. The workshop will chaired by Brian O’Keefe, with presentations from:

David Benyon (Edinburgh Napier University): Presence and Digital Tourism

John Zimmerman (Carnegie Mellon University): Mobile Service Design and the User Experience

Oli Mival  (Edinburgh Napier University): The Design, Development and Evaluation of the Jupiter Artland Mobile App

Brian O’Keefe (RIT): NYSCA Mobile Experiences for Tourism Project

RIT Student Exhibit: MS HCI Capstone projects, defended and in-progress

When: Thursday, October 3rd
When: Doors open at 1pm
Where: Bamboo Room 03-2610

After the presentations, we will have a focus group session for future collaborations and strategies to continue research in the blended theory domain. Graduate Research Assistants in the Blended Interactions domain will be showcasing their research for feedback from the interaction design community. After 5pm the workshop will reconvene at Dinosaur BBQ for happy hour and dinner.

Introducing the Blended Interactions Studio at RIT

Blended Interactions is a user experience (UX) design studio at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rochester, NY. We specialize in applied research and development for the design of innovative technologies that merge digital and physical spaces via mobile services. Our student researchers, designers and developers are funding by New York Council on the ArtsRIT and VisitRochester.

web site:

The Blended Interaction design studio is inspired by the close integration of physical and digital spaces in room environments and collaborative spaces [1, 2, 3]. The Masters Human Computer Interaction program at RIT, created  courses to research and teach user experience design in the blended interactions and digital tourism domains [4, 5]. Our goal is to design novel, location-based interactions, with special emphasis on context, location, history, and personalization of the UX before, during and after visits [6, 7]. Our research explores how we:

  1. implement novel augmentations to supplement educational components of digital storytelling,
  2. design interactions from geo-fences or location-based events for blended interactions, and
  3. create personalized souvenirs that represent the user’s unique visit.

Our UX design studio is affiliated with other research organizations:
Edinburgh Napier University, UK – Future Interactions Network (
University of Konstanz, Germany – Human-Computer Interaction Group, Designing Collaborative Interactive Spaces (

[1]     Benyon, D. (2012) Presence in Blended Spaces. Interacting with Computers, 24, 4 (2012), 219-226.
[2]     Benyon, D., Mival, O., Ayan, S. (2012). Designing Blended Spaces. In Proc. BCHCI 2012. ACM Press (2012), 398-403.
[3]     Jetter, H-C, Geyer, F., Schwarz, T., Reiterer, H. Blended Interaction – Toward a Framework for the Design of Interactive Spaces In Proc. Designing Collaborative interactive Spaces. AVI Workshop, Capri, May.
[4]     O’Keefe, B., Benyon, D., Mival, O. Mobile Experiences for Tourism: Genesee Country Village Museum. In Extended Abstracts. CHI 2013 Blend13 Workshop. ACM Press (2013).
[5]     O’Keefe, B., Slutsky, B., Iuliucci, N., Nalbandian, A., Thanedar, A., Mokey, S., & Mival, O. Mobile Experiences for Tourism: Brick City Tours. Extended Abstracts, CHI 2013 Work-in-Progress. ACM Press (2013).
[6]     Uriely, N. The tourist experience: Conceptual Developments, Annals of Tourism Research, 32, 1 (2005), 199-216.
[7]     Quigley, A. From GUI to UUI: User Interfaces for Ubiquitous Computing, In Book Ubiquitous Computing Fundamentals: Chapman & Hall/CRC, 2009.

Introducing the Mobile Tourism Project to Gov. Cuomo

On Friday, May 8th Governor Cuomo held New York’s first New York State Tourism Summit: NYS Tourism Means Business in Albany, NY. The summit included the state’s top tourism and political leaders to monopolize on opportunities to grow, support and build New York’s economies via tourism.


I had the pleasure of meeting Governor Cuomo and introduce Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as a leader in tourism-cented solutions through mobile innovations and experiences. Faculty and students at the Blended Interactions Studio, are using interaction design and a host of ubiquitous and mobile technologies to personalize and engage the visitor experiences before, during, and after visits. The Blended Interactions Studio is supported by The Mobile Experiences for Tourism Project” which is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


The Governor’s summit had two main topics, a) 33% – 35% of all visitors to the United States travel through New York area airports and b) Governor Cuomo announced that there is a $60,000,000 tourism budget to be used to support and build economies in New York State via tourism. One of the summit’s goal is to find innovative solutions to sensitize visitors that New York State has wonderful tourism destinations, cultural heritage and great wine! In other words, New York is bigger than Manhattan.


After the summit, the 75-100 attendees were invited to Governor Cuomo’s mansion to sample New York culinary delights e.g., produce, ice cream, beers, meats, cheeses and wines!

Presented at the Blended Interactions Workshop at CHI 2013, Paris, France

Researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology and Edinburgh Napier University collaborate to create “A Blended Space for Tourism at the Genesee Country Village & Museum”. Brian O’Keefe from RIT presented at the Blend13 CHI 2013 Workshop in Paris, France. The workshop brought international researchers together to envision the impact of Blended Theory could have on the future of collaborative environments.

Presentation: A Blended Space for Tourism: Genesee Country Village & Museum
Brian Presenting “A Blended Space for Tourism: Genesee Country Village & Museum”

Our presentation discussed the concept of a blended space and used it to explore the design of a visitor experience in a nineteenth century living history village and museum in western New York. Blended spaces aim to produce a more harmonized user experience (UX) of a place, by considering the correspondences between physical and digital spaces and by considering the movement through these spaces. Our research paper was ranked amongst the top papers in the workshop.

Researchers conduct augmented reality study at Genesee Country Village & Museum

A special thanks to our collaborators at Genesee Country Village & Museum. Last week our interaction designers and ethnographers had a special tour with the Director of Interpretation and Curation. Our personalized tours took our researchers to key places in the nineteenth century village for the best vantage points for augmented reality and highlighted key locations for historical story telling. Although our work is preliminary, we are beginning to create nineteenth century digital stories that represent a) a child’s life, b) medical treatments c) The War of 1812 and d) Women’s Rights Abolitionists movement.

This nineteenth Century women's high school could be used as a key destination for our Women's Rights digital story
This nineteenth Century women’s high school could be used as a key destination for our Women’s Rights digital story

The Quaker Store has nice lighting and architectural vantage point to make seamless augmentations e.g. we don't have to worry about the feet.
The Quaker Store has nice lighting and architectural vantage point to make seamless augmentations e.g. we don’t have to worry about the feet.
This roped off area could provide a good vantage point to augment a person sleeping while the visitor searches for clues.
This roped off area could provide a good vantage point to augment a person sleeping while the visitor searches for clues.
Dan the steer bumped into my iPhone while trying to take a panoramic shot of the Quaker homes!
Dan the steer bumped into my iPhone while trying to take a panoramic shot of the Quaker homes!

Porsche Principle Innovations – Documentary on Innovation in Corporate Culture

Professor Michael Shamiyeh, Head of Design-Organization-Media (DOM) Research Laboratory to Discuss PORCHE Innovations

When: 4.12.2013 – Time: 1:00 PM

Where: Student Hall of Innovation – Rochester Institute of Technology

Prof Shamiyeh is head of the DOM (Design -Organization – Media) Research Laboratory in Austria.  He holds degrees from Harvard, AA London and TU Vienna. He is an expert on innovation, including corporate structures which promote innovation. He recently completed a major study of the history of innovations at Porsche.  As part of the project, he produced two DVDs which analyze the reasons for Porsche’s success, and include video interviews with their leading innovators and managers.

Prof. Shamiyeh is coming to Rochester for a project related to historical innovations at Kodak. He will be conducting video interviews with Steve Sasson, Ken Parulski, Dana Walcott, and several other Kodak inventors and senior managers.



Patent for “Guidance for Image Capture at Different Locations”

U.S. Patents Awarded to Inventors in New York

The co-inventors are Timothy L. Nichols, Spencerport, N.Y., Kenneth Alan Parulski, Rochester, N.Y., Thiagarajah Arujunan, Penfield, N.Y., Thomas Joseph Murray, Cohocton, N.Y., and Brian Joseph O’Keefe, Rochester, N.Y.

The abstract of the patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office states: “A method for providing guidance to a user as to what images should be captured by the user as the user moves from location to location, comprising receiving a first captured digital image having pixel data captured of a scene at a first location, using a processor to analyze the pixel data of the first captured digital image and determining based on such analysis a second possible image capture location for the user, wherein the second possible image capture location is selected from a plurality of different possible locations, and transmitting guidance to the user over a communications network, the guidance including information concerning a next scene to be captured at the second location.”

Faculty Recognition at RIT – Students Creating Mobile Experiences

Students Creating Mobile Experiences

Since Fall of 2011, Brian O’Keefe, a visiting professor for the Golisano College of Computing & Information Sciences, has been teaching Mobile Experiences for Tourism. This is a unique, multidisciplinary course experience in which students across a number of graduate-level, academic programs work collaboratively to develop mobile technologies with a specific focus on the tourism industry. In its most recent offering, students worked to develop a mobile experience, known as Brick City Tours. Not only has the course provided students with a “pseudo work place” experience in which to apply their skills, they have also contributed to cutting edge research in mobile technology infrastructures that can be used in the tourism industry.

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Rochester Tech Startups Presentation: Wizard of Oz Prototyping

Wizard of Oz Prototyping – Evaluating user feedback from products that do not exist

Presenter: Brian O’Keefe
When: 16 January 2013
Where: Student Innovation Hall, RIT
Time: 6:30-7:30

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The Wizard of Oz (WoZ) prototyping technique is used in the Usability Engineering course in the MS Human Computer Interaction program at RIT. The WoZ technique is designed to evaluate user interactions with a potential system, device or service without actually building a system. Buxton and his colleagues have been looking at Wizard of Oz user experience design techniques for sometime (Greedberg 2012). Although not intended to measure longitudinal user evaluations, the WoZ technique can be used to quickly validate aspects of a new or emerging technology without building a real system. This enables designers to cut significant cost and time to evaluate high level user responses to accepting, perceiving or potentially using a new product. There are controversial aspects of the WoZ technique, e.g. whether people should be aware that they are being “fooled” into thinking they are interacting with a real system (Mival 2009). There are ethical issues involved in fooling people, but some research argue participants need to believe the simulation is real, else data is skewed. Visiting Assistant Professor, Brian O’Keefe, Ph.D., will be presenting his research and student examples of the WoZ technique and how it has played an important role in evaluating results from prototypes that do not yet exist.

[1]     Greenberg, S., Carpendale, S., Marquardt, N., Buxton, B. Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook, MA: Morgan Kaufmann, 2012.

[2]     Mival, O., Bradley,. Benyon, D. 2009. Wizard of Oz experiments for companions. In Proc. BCSHCI 2009. ACM Press 2009, 313-317.