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Hermes@Home: supporting awareness and intimacy between distant family members

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This paper presents the Hermes@Home system, which supports awareness (through messaging) between members of a home. Person(s) 'away' from the home can send messages via a web portal to an 'always on' 'information appliance' style display situated in the home, while people at home can scribble messages on the touch sensitive display of this unit for reception by the person(s) away from the home. The system was conceived as a technology probe and serves as a tool in investigating related issues such as awareness and intimacy between home inhabitants. It supplements existing communication methods by providing a highly expressive and always-available messaging method. We present some findings and initial results from a preliminary analysis of messages sent through the system during four deployments, identifying emerging themes in message content. In addition, we also present some of the issues that have surfaced through these deployments in a domestic environment.