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Interruptions and Multitasking in Mobile Computing

Duncan Brumby

Mobile computing is astonishing. With just a few keypresses we can listen to new music, navigate to new places, buy products and services, and keep up with work and social communications – all of this being done on the move. However, this astonishing capability places demands on our limited cognitive and perceptual abilities. In this talk, I will describe how interruptions and multitasking are core concerns for mobile computing. I will first describe a framework for how people multitask, focusing on in-car device use and issues of driver distraction. I will then apply this knowledge of multitasking behaviour to consider how smartphones can be redesigned to better handle incoming-calls. Finally, I will talk about our recent work on conducting crowd-sourced experiments to better investigate self-interruptions in natural settings.

Speaker bio

Duncan Brumby is a Senior Lecturer at University College London (UCL). He received his doctorate in Psychology from Cardiff University in 2005, after which he was a post-doc in Computer Science at Drexel University, before joining UCL in 2007. He has published 60+ papers on how people interact with computers, and this work has received various awards and prizes. Support has come from grants provided by the EPSRC and EIT. Dr Brumby is Deputy Editor for the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, and has been an Associate Chair for the CHI conference since 2012. He is also directs the MSc programme in Human-Computer Interaction at UCL.

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