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Augmenting couples' communication with lifelines: Shared timelines of mixed contextual information

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


  • Carla F. Griggio, Université Paris-Saclay
  • ,
  • Midas Nouwens
  • Joanna McGrenere, The University of British Columbia
  • ,
  • Wendy E. Mackay, Université Paris-Saclay

Couples exhibit special communication practices, but apps rarely offer couple-specific functionality. Research shows that sharing streams of contextual information (e.g. location, motion) helps couples coordinate and feel more connected. Most studies explored a single, ephemeral stream; we study how couples' communication changes when sharing multiple, persistent streams. We designed Lifelines, a mobile-app technology probe that visualizes up to six streams on a shared timeline: closeness to home, battery level, steps, media playing, texts and calls. A month-long study with nine couples showed that partners interpreted information mostly from individual streams, but also combined them for more nuanced interpretations. Persistent streams allowed missing data to become meaningful and provided new ways of understanding each other. Unexpected patterns from any stream can trigger calls and texts, whereas seeing expected data can replace direct communication, which may improve or disrupt established communication practices. We conclude with design implications for mediating awareness within couples.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Number of pages13
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication yearMay 2019
ISBN (Electronic)9781450359702
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Event2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 May 20199 May 2019


Conference2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019
LandUnited Kingdom
SeriesConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

    Research areas

  • Awareness, CMC, Contextual information, Couples

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