Media Center Buddies: Instant Messaging around a Media Center

  • Tim Regan ,
  • Ian Todd

MSR-TR-2004-47 |


In this paper we present a prototype instant messaging system that allows multiple simultaneous users to access their instant messaging whilst watching TV together in the same room. Three key factors led the design presented in this paper: 1) Some of the devices on which people watch TV are now capable of simultaneously performing personal communications functions. 2) People often watch TV with their friends and family present in the room. 3) Both TV viewing and instant messaging are popular, especially amongst teenagers. In response to these factors, we prototyped and user tested an instant messaging system for use during TV viewing. It featured a gradual fade-in and fade-out of incoming messages, thus reducing distraction; and multiple concurrent logged-in users at a single terminal. We explored the design choices made, especially around the issues of interruption and privacy, and present the results of a 32 participant user study. Unlike many user studies of PC applications, the participants were paired to more faithfully recreate typical leisure-time viewing habits. The study found that the messaging was not a significant distraction due to our design. Some confidentiality issues were also resolved, and we uncovered unexpected privacy concerns