TableTalk: integrating personal devices and content for commensal experiences at the family dinner table

Hasan Shahid Ferdous, Bernd Ploderer, Hilary Davis, Frank Vetere, Kenton O’Hara, Geremy Farr-Wharton, Rob Comber

This paper joins the ubiquitous computing scholarship that investigates the use of technologies in collocated shared settings like family mealtime. Family mealtimes are an important site for fostering togetherness, sharing everyday experiences, and nurturing familial ties. While technologies, especially television and personal devices are often criticized for disrupting the social aspects of mealtimes, they are widely available and commonly used nevertheless. In this paper, we explore this tension and present a novel system TableTalk, which transforms personal devices into a communal shared display on the table to enrich mealtime interactions and experience. Our field study shows that TableTalk does not undermine togetherness, but supports familial expectations and experiences by stimulating conversation, reminiscing, bonding, education, and socializing. We discuss how technology that is sensitive to the needs of family interactions can augment the commensal experience and reflect on design choices and opportunities that contribute, rather than disrupt, family mealtimes.

Author: Open Lab

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