Ad-hoc Registration and Configuration of Social Object Labels

This poster and demo presents Social Object Labels (SOLs) as a ubiquitous annotation platform and highlights the specific aspect of ad-hoc registration and configuration. It argues that this quality reduces costs and risks for organisations trialling and adopting the system, as it allows deployment in the target environment without custom development, workflow changes or technical assistance. The paper discusses functionality related to ad-hoc deployment and registration and their implementation in a current SOL prototype.

Keywords — Ubiquitous annotation; Pervasive displays; Digital signage.

Winter, M. (2014). Ad-hoc Registration and Configuration of Social Object Labels. Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Pervasive Displays (PerDis 2014), Jun. 3-4, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Social Object Labels

This position paper introduces and discusses Social Object Labels, small pervasive displays for ubiquitous social object annotation. Taking an HCI perspective, it relates user experience problems with ubiquitous annotation described in the literature to a lack of dynamic information available to users and argues that small pervasive displays can address these problems by providing dynamic situated information that supports users before, during and after interaction. The paper describes three potential application domains for ubiquitous social object annotation and presents related scenarios to illustrate possible uses and interactions in concrete terms. It defines the design space for Social Object Labels with reference to related display concepts such as ambient displays and interactive public displays, and structures the defined space by discussing salient design aspects. The paper concludes with a summary and outlook on future research.

Keywords— HCI; Pervasive Displays; Ambient Displays; Interactive Public Displays; Ubiquitous Annotation; Pervasive Sociality; Social Object Labels; User Generated Content

Winter, M. (2014). Social Object Labels: Supporting Social Object Annotation with Small Pervasive Displays. Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (PerCom 2014), Mar. 24-28, Budapest, Hungary, pp. 489-494.

One in ten say they have an NFC phone

The number of consumers with an NFC phone has doubled since 2012 according to Deloitte‘s third annual Global Mobile Consumer Survey, with 10% of 37,600 consumers surveyed in 20 countries saying they know that they have the technology embedded in their smartphone. 62% say they do not and 28% do not know if their phone has NFC or not.”

read on at

Just over a third of British adults (35%) are aware of NFC-enabled mobile devices, with 9% saying they know that their personal device is NFC-enabled and 22% of those having used NFC to make a payment, a YouGov survey of 1,501 people has found.”

read on at 

NFC energy harvesting e-ink display

All the components have been in place for a while, so this comes as no surprise:

   E-ink displays that only need energy to switch but not to hold an image
+ RFID / NFC technology that powers passive tags via radio
+ Energy-harvesting technology that captures and stores energy from ambient radio signals
= Ideal pervasive display (no need for batteries or wired power sources)

“…This paper describes a bistable display tag that, from an energy standpoint, is capable of perpetual operation. A commercial off-the-shelf NFC-enabled phone generates RF signals carrying both the information and energy necessary to update the display. After the update is complete, the display continues to present the information with no further power input.”

Dementyev, A., Gummeson, J., Thrasher, D., Parks, A., Ganesan, D, Smith, J.R and Sample, A.P (2013). Wirelessly Powered Bistable Display Tags. Proceedings of UbiComp 3013, 8-12 september, 2013, Zurich. Available

Object identification and interaction

Source: Rukzio (2010)

Object identification is a key challenge in ubiquitous annotation. Rukzio (2007) gives an overview of common and not-so common technologies that can be used to identify objects and places and to discover and interact with related digital services. Various other technologies have since been explored in the context of object identification and/or communication with mobile devices.

Source: Harrison, Xiao and Hudson(2012)

Harrison, Xiao and Hudson (2012) developed Acoustic Barcodes, structured patterns of notches on a small plastic strip which produce a complex sound when swiped with something hard, e.g. a fingernal or mobile phone, that can be resolved to a binary ID. Acoustic tags are cheap to produce, don’t consume power and offer simple interaction. (2012) uses sound to transmit data in “tiny pieces of music” without the need to pair devices beforehand. As sound travels only so far, the technology can be used to identify objects and locations. Speakers can be cheaply integrated with almost any material and today’s mobile phones have speakers and microphones as standard.


Sources: (Estimote Beacon)and (TI SensorTag)

The latest technology to come to market (backed by Apple, Google and Nokia) is Bluetooth 4.0 aka Bluetooth LE aka BLE, a low-power version of the classic Bluetooth that “allows one device (the Proximity Monitor) to detect whether another device (the Proximity Reporter) is within a close physical range.” (Source: Wikipedia). Proximity-based applications of BLE include Estimote Beacons, Texas Intrument’s SensorTags and Apple’s iBeacon.

> Here are some presentation slides showing iBeacon in a museums context.


  • (2012)
  • Harrison, C., Xiao, R. and Hudson, S.E. (2012). Acoustic Barcodes: Passive, Durable and Inexpensive Notched Identification Tags. Proceedings of UIST ’12, October 7–10, 2012, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
  • Rukzio, E. (2007) Physical Mobile Interactions: Mobile Devices as Pervasive Mediators for Interactions with the Real World. PhD Dissertation. Faculty for Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics. University of Munich.
  • Rukzio, E. (2010). Mobile interaction with the real world. Lecture Slides. Lancaster University. Available

Inch-scale Interactive Displays for Social Object Annotation

This paper offers an HCI perspective on ubiquitous annotation with a focus on social object annotation. It suggests that user experience issues with static-display visual markers and radio frequency tags are due to a lack of up-to-date information about the related object or service. To provide that information it proposes small situated displays that can encourage engagement and support interaction with dynamic user-generated content services. The paper describes a platform for research into small pervasive displays in the context of social object annotation and briefly discusses the relevance of the research for the wider field.

Keywords: HCI; Ubiquitous computing; Pervasive computing; Ubiquitous annotation; Social Object Annotation; Pervasive displays; Digital signage

Reference: Winter, M. (2013). Inch-scale Interactive Displays for Social Object Annotation. Adjunct Proceedings of the 2013 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp 2013), Sep. 8-12, Zurich, CH.

Understanding the Mobile V&A Visitor

Very useful statistics about technology use in the V&A (download PDF)

Some highlights (many more in the report):

  • Almost two thirds of visitors to the V&A own a smartphone and carry it with them in the museum
  • Two thirds of smartphone owners visiting the V&A are already using their phones to enhance their cultural visits
  • Visitors are enthusiastic about the free WiFi service provided by the V&A and the idea of accessing museum content (however, low awareness levels)
  • Younger visitors express a preference for using their own device (over museums audio guides)

Here’s an interesting blog post by Andrew Lewis, digital content delivery manager at the V&A, comparing the findings with a yet-to-be-published survey across Tate, the National Gallery and IWM.