Supporting Human Memory with Interactive Systems

Workshop at the 2007 British HCI International Conference

Denis Lalanne
Elise van den Hoven
DIVA group
Department of Informatics
University of Fribourg
denis.lalanne [at]

User-Centered Engineering Group
Industrial Design Department
Eindhoven University of Technology
e.v.d.hoven [at]


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The major goal of this workshop is to explore how interactive systems can support human memory, using novel technologies and innovative human/machine interaction paradigms, such as tangible interaction. We believe this is important since memory and attention are becoming critical resources for our wellness, e.g. with regard to a continuously increasing information overload. The goal of this workshop is not only to support personal information management but also daily life activities, e.g. adapted to user preferences and specific contexts. Where current multimedia search engines are designed for large user communities and their applications, this workshop targets the support of individual’s personal memory in everyday life.


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09:00 - 09:15

Introduction to workshop

09:15 - 10:00 Position paper presentations - The Ageing Memory
Caprani, N., Porter, N., Greaney, J.
Methods Used to Predict Older Adult Use of Technology Mediated Memory Aids
Hunter, A., Sayers, H., McDaid, L.
An Evolvable Computer Interface for Elderly Users
Wilkes, J., Schneider, N., Grandt, M., Schlick, C.M.
Investigation of Memory-Supporting Design Approaches to the Age-Differentiated Adaptation of Human-Computer Interfaces

10:00 - 10:30 Position paper presentations - Technologies supporting Memory
Kalnikaité, V., Whittaker, S.
Does Taking Notes Help You Remember Better? Exploring What Note Taking Patterns Lead to Better Organic Memory
Lustig, C., Novatchkov, H., Dunne, L.E., McHugh, M., Coyle, L.
Using Colocation to Support Human Memory

10:30 - 11:00


11:00 - 11:30 Position paper presentations - Digital Memories
Kelly, L., Jones, G.J.F.
Venturing into the Labyrinth: the information retrieval challenge of Human Digital Memories
Evequoz, F., Lalanne, D.
Indexing and visualizing digital memories through personal email archive

11:30 - 12:15 Position paper presentations - Memory & Context Awareness
Bisht, M., Swords, D., Quigley, A.J., Gaudin, B., Bennett, M.
Context-Coded Memories: "Who, What, Where, When, Why?"
Schweer, A., Hinze, A.
The Digital Parrot: Combining Context-Awareness and Semantics to Augment Memory
Gheel, J., Anderson, T.
Activity metadata for enhancing Web document retrieval

12:15 - 01:15


01:15 - 01:30

Introduction to afternoon brainstorming and discussion

01:30 - 03:30

Brainstorming in break-out groups

03:30 - 04:00


04:00 - 05:00

Regroup and discuss break-out groups

05:00 - 05:30

Wrap-up and future directions


Human memory is central in our daily life activities, not only to build relationships with friends, create our identity or reminisce about the past but also to drive our attention towards the most important tasks to perform and to manage our lives. Information overload, memory and attention lacks are crucial challenges to solve, not only for elderly people but also for the rest of the society.

Numerous elderly have memory and attention problems, without speaking about Alzheimer disease, which hinder their daily lives. Not only do they have difficulties remembering appointments and tasks that need to be done, such as buying bread or milk twice the same day, they might lose their glasses, they have trouble remembering people and places, which can result in insecurity, unsafe situations and melancholic feelings.

Younger people also face memory problems, especially with the constant increase of information a person owns and handles. Not only the information amount is growing fast, it is dematerializing and thus, people are often experiencing the “lost-in-infospace” effect. Our documents are multiplying in very large file hierarchies, our pictures are no longer stored in photo-albums, our music CDs are taking the form of mp3 files, movies are stored on hard-drives. Google and Microsoft recently tried to solve the “lost-in-infospace” issue by providing, respectively, a desktop search engine and a powerful email search engine, in attempt to minimize the effort needed by people to organize their documents and access them later by browsing. However, in order to find a file, one still has to remember a set of keywords or at least remember its “virtual” existence. If one does not remember having a certain document, browsing could be helpful, since it can reveal related keywords and documents. Those, in turn, can help you remember by association, like our human memory does.

The process of “remembering” usually starts with a sensory cue which gives you access to an associated memory. For example, we may see a picture of a place visited in our childhood and the image cues recollections associated to the content of the picture and trigger an emotional reaction simultaneously. This information is generally easier to retrieve if it is associated to a strong emotional experience or when it is rehearsed often which can be facilitated by having physical objects related to memories, such as souvenirs or photographs. Therefore tangible interaction systems seem to have potential for supporting everyday human memory. Furthermore, it appears that humans easily access and retrieve information when it is linked to other related information or objects, either information or sounds, smells, images, etc. which supports the idea of cross-modal indexing.

This workshop proposes to explore possible ways to support memory, by means of interactive systems, to improve the wellness of people suffering from memory or attention lacks or just everyday people in everyday situations.

Call for Participation

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The aim of the workshop is to bring people together to discuss ongoing studies on human memory, both user centred and technology driven, and to address some of the following questions:

  • Human Memory: What human memory knowledge is needed to create optimal memory support? How does memory relate with intentionality, action and environment perception? (enaction theory) What are the known drawbacks of our memory?
  • Target group: Which groups of people could benefit most from human memory support? Can we support people suffering from Alzheimer and dementia? How can potential users be involved in the analysis, design, implementation and evaluation process?
  • Evaluation: How do we evaluate memory support from the perspective of the target group, interaction or interface design and supporting technologies? What has been done in terms of evaluation thus far and what did the results teach us?
  • Supporting Technologies: Which kind of technologies can be used to support human memory? Which multimodal technology can help best supporting memory? For which tasks and target group? And what is the context of use?
  • Tangible Interaction: Why is tangibility important? How can we assess tangibility? What kinds of tangible objects are suitable for supporting remembering, i.e. how does tangible object design relate to human memory? Are personal tangibles more suitable than generic tangible objects for the memory field?
  • Emotion-oriented interfaces: How can emotion-oriented computing help supporting memory? How can a machine detect emotions and link it with related information? How can a machine generate emotions and recall memories? Can we use the knowledge that memories and emotions are closely linked?
  • Personal Information Management and Visualization: Which novel information mining and retrieval strategies are necessary to index and retrieve memories? How to adapt and extend multimedia search engines to handle personal memories? How to deal with the cross-modal nature of personal memories and information?

Interested participants are invited to submit a 4-page position paper using the ACM-template, which can be found on the website indicated below. Papers may address any topic related to the questions above. The organizers will try to create a diverse mix of participants from academia as well as industry and from different backgrounds and fields.

Important dates:

[ July 25th, 2007 ] - Deadline for submission position papers (in camera-ready form, PDF format)

[ August 15th, 2007 ] - Author notification date

[ September 4th, 2007 ] - Date of the workshop at the 2007 British HCI Conference

Please submit position papers in PDF format to: Denis Lalanne, denis.lalanne [at]

ACM paper format: [ Word, Latex, etc. ]

Program Committee (to be completed):

Enrico Bertini (University of Fribourg)
Martin Conway (University of Leeds, Institute of Psychological Sciences)
Jean-Daniel Fekete (INRIA, Unité de Recherche Futurs, Université Paris-Sud)
Geraldine Fitzpatrick (University of Sussex)
Mike Flynn (IDIAP, Switzerland)
Catherine Garbay (CLIPS-IMAG, Grenoble, France)
Jim Gemmell (Microsoft Research, Redmond, WA)
Jettie Hoonhout (Philips Research, Eindhoven)
Kenji Mase (Information Technology Center, Nagoya University)
Elena Mugellini (University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland)
Steve Whittaker (Information Studies Department, University of Sheffield)

This workshop is part of the 2007 British HCI Conference
For more information, please refer to the conference website at: HCI 2007