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Glancephone: An exploration of human expression

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Abstract

In this paper, we describe the design and ethnographic study of a phone developed so as to allow people to glance at each other, rather than simply message or voice call. Glancephones work through having a form factor that allows them to be placed upright when a user wants to be available for glancing, and support a web-based application that allows glances, bitmap images, to be taken and sent to a remote viewer on request, via GPRS connections. Glancephones were originally invented to allow callers to see if it is appropriate to call or interrupt and thus act like normal glances in face-to-face situations. Ethnographic studies of the use indicate that people prefer using the devices not to support greeting sequences, however, but to enable others to glance at them. It was found that Glacephones were used to draw attention to oneself, not to encourage better control of interruption and greeting sequences. The paper uses this data to remark on the concepts of human expression that underscore much of the research reported in Mobile HCI, and it proposes Bourdieu's concepts of habitus and relatedly, distinction, as explanatory tools for this and other evidence about expression enabled by mobile and other technologies of communication.