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Department of Information Systems

The electronic Arts Habitat (eArtH)

Directors:

Managing Committee:

Members:

All IS and CS Faculty and their PhD students are welcome to be members of e-ArtH. However, membership is managed on a per person basis, that is, the lab is focused on multimedia, social computing and human-computer interaction research so that projects with this focus with be given first priority.

Location:

Two entrances, far Eastern end of the 4th floor of GITC

Purpose:

This lab was created to support multimedia, social computing and human-computer interaction research. As such the lab has multiple research spaces in addition to a storage facility. The research spaces are used as follows:

e-ArtH Conference Room:

This room seats 10 participants comfortably and is used both for research meetings and for running research projects involving multiple participants. Examples of its recent use are: (1) all Smart Campus Research Project meetings; (1) all Global Team research seminar meetings; (3) all HCI research seminar meetings; (4) running focus groups on speech language therapists—joint research project between NJIT and Princeton engineering department; (5) pervasive computing class meetings; (6) Software / Hardware design meetings, e.g., the AudioBrowser project, the temporal structures calendar project and the grade recommender system project. Two of these projects have involved CCS Capstone Course design teams. This research space is the most extensively used research space in the lab, so much so, that we have had to resort to a calendar booking system and to turn booking of the room over to the IS Department secretary.

Usability Lab:

This room is a small room used for running usability studies and experiments with one to three subjects. It is separate from the rest of the lab so as to keep noise and interruptions low. The room has been used to run studies on Multimodal speech and gesture interfaces and on new search engine algorithms. Ph.D. students who book the room for an extended period of a few weeks when they are conducting experiments primarily use it. The room is also used by the CIS 447 class, which requires students to run a usability study on their interface. We also have used the room to run usability studies for companies that are in our incubators. A student in the HCI program is assigned to run the studies and guided by one of our HCI faculty. We have run five such studies.

Multimedia Area:

A section of the open area of the lab is set aside for media work. Equipment in this area has been purchased to facilitate the editing and manipulation of media. Some of the equipment allows us to collect video data from studies run in the Usability Lab but other equipment allows us to prepare video documents or to analyze them. Since one form of data capture in the Information Systems paradigm is video, much data analysis is done with programs that support the marking and labeling of video events found in the data stream.

General Work Area:

The main area of the lab is a central work area with workstations set up so that students can face each other and engage in meaningful research discussions. This area is almost always full of PhD students who are carrying out research projects for faculty members. We also permit undergraduates and masters students in this area if they are working on a faculty directed project.

History of eArtH:

eArtH was built as a way to attract two full professors to NJIT who were working in the human-centered computing and media arts area. The equipment in the lab came from a state-funded grant that was written by Drs. Hiltz and Turoff. Although the build-out on the lab occurred before the new faculty arrived, it took another year for the university to provide furniture for the lab. Its directors used furniture from university storage during this period, but the furniture was neither enough nor appropriate for the types of research tasks intended for the lab. Only after Drs. Mendonca and Tremaine ordered second hand furniture from a used furniture store with plans to pick up the furniture in one week, did the university bring in an architect who prepared a furniture order that accommodated the equipment purchased for the lab. Similar issues arose in installing other infrastructure (e.g., networking capabilities) in the lab. A minimum of one hundred hours of IS faculty time were given to these tasks.

Current Use:

Both Co-lab and eArtH are intensively used labs in the Information Systems Department. Their layout is such that they are designed for different types of research use. Students who are writing research papers or their thesis use the Co-lab work area, because of its compartmentalized design. Its meeting space is used for large-scale research projects, larger classes, tutorials, workshops, thesis defenses and meetings. In contrast, eArtH is used for smaller scale experiments, smaller seminar meetings and small intensive design sessions.

Costs:

eArtH gets new equipment through research grants, for example, the HP grant written by Dr. Quentin Jones. It also obtains any special software from grants. Supplies needed to run the lab, e.g., cleaning supplies, power bars, towel paper, etc., come from the department budget or from individual faculty donations. The students who are members of the lab do lab cleaning. Cleaning equipment such as vacuum cleaners are supplied by the faculty and lab members. Labs are cleaned weekly.