Development of a Home Messaging and Communication System sample essay

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This is group coursework. Groups should have between 3 to 5 people. Do only one of the assignments described below. Read everything before you decide which to tackle.

Assignment 1 – Home Messaging System

Many people live in a house or flat with others. People may live fairly independently with different interests and routines, or they may be more closely involved with each others’ lives. Whichever is the case, they will probably need to coordinate their activities with each other. They may benefit from ways of recording and sharing reminders about events such as appointments or significant dates. They may need ways to record and coordinate over tasks such as chores around the place. They may benefit from ways of indicating problems, requests for information or action, ways just saying “hello” and ‘greasing the wheels’ of communal living, or even ways of addressing conflicts if they occur. The messages people currently leave for each other can take many forms.

They may use Post-its, whiteboards, pinboards or other surfaces that can be written on. The practices of information sharing may evolve over many years and are often designed to fit carefully into peoples’ lives. However, written messages may have disadvantages: they tend to be static and not easily updated; they also are fixed in one location, whereas people are mobile and may need access to notes and messages even when they aren’t at the location where the message was created.

Coursework Instructions

Research, prototype and evaluate a digital Home Messaging device or system that people in a house or flat can use to share the kinds of information they need to coordinate activities with one another and enable good, happy social relations. The details of what they can do will depend on what you find out by doing some user-research. The system you develop should have an interface within a shared space, but may also work in coordination with devices at other locations.

Assignment 2 – Mobile Museum or Art Gallery System

Museums and art galleries make an important contribution to our cultural landscape. A visit to a museum or art gallery can happen for many reasons. People may want to learn, be reflective, to be entertained or to have a fun day out with friends and family. People may have a deep interest in what they will see there or they may just want something to do on a rainy afternoon. Image by EmilySuran (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Digital technology can provide opportunities for enhancing these experiences in a number of ways. They may offer information before a visit. During a visit users might want information or to communicate in some way. Mobile devices can be location-aware. For example, this can be done using QR codes. A QR (Quick Response) code (see image below) is a matrix barcode which can be scanned by a device fitted with a camera (such as a smart phone). A user could scan a code next to an exhibit to launch some location-based service. And after the visit there may be some follow-up activities, perhaps using information about what interested them.

A QR code

Coursework Instructions

Research, prototype and evaluate a system that could be used by people to enhance their experiences in museums and/or art galleries in some way. The service could provide information and/or enhance shared experiences. It could help them learn or make things fun. The system could integrate with a web-based system to allow people to do things before or after a trip. Again, the details of will depend on what you find out by doing some user-research.

General Instructions

Whichever project you do it must involve the following major activities:
1. user-research
2. prototyping
3. evaluation
4. prototype revision

In other words, follow an iterative design approach. Each step should inform the next. It should be clear how the research has informed the design, and how the evaluation has informed the revised design. As an alternative to traditional user-research methods you might like to try auto ethnography. Auto ethnography is an approach which seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience.

If you do this you will be graded on the methods you use to acquire and analyse useful experiences and the quality of the insights that this gives you. For any activity that involves human participants you must complete a Middlesex University School of Engineering and Information Sciences Research Consent (Form C) and a Declaration Form and Ethical Approval Request (Form D). Have your consent form approved by your tutor before you start each phase of user engagement and have them sign your form D. The forms can be found in the ‘Useful Forms’ section of the Middlesex University, School of EIS – Ethics & Research Webpage.


The work will be assessed in parts:
Group Progress Review Presentation – 25% of total mark

The presentation should describe the work you have done and your plans for completing the assignment. Group members will only receive a mark if they make a reasonable contribution to the presentation, with each receiving the same mark.

Individual Final Report – 75% of total mark

The final report should be no more than 4000 words (not including appendixes). Each group member will receive an individual mark. The report should be structured as follows (maximum marks awarded are shown in brackets as a percentage of marks awarded for the report):

* Introduction (10%)
* User Research (15%)
* Prototype (15%)
* Evaluation (15%)
* Prototype revision (10%)
* Discussion (10%)
* Appendices containing all appropriate ethics forms1 (15%) An additional 10% will be awarded for presentation of the report. All marks will depend on the separate submission of your raw data.

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