The Break-Time Barometer

The Break-Time Barometer is a social awareness system, which was developed as part of an exploratory study of the use of situated sensing and displays to promote cohesion in a newly-dispersed workplace. The Break-Time Barometer specifically aims to use an ambient persuasion approach in order to encourage people to join existing breaks, which take place within this community. Drawing upon a privacy-sensitive ubiquitous sensing infrastructure, the system offers information about potentially break-related activity in social spaces within this workplace, including alerts when specific events are detected. The system was developed using a user-centered iterative design approach. A qualitative mixed methods evaluation of a full deployment identified a diverse set of reactions to both the system and the design goal, and further elaborated the challenges of designing for social connectedness in this complex workplace context.