Capturing the Mobile and Distributed Work for Concept Development using Photograph Probes

M.P. Nieminen and P. Mannonen (Finland)


User research, research methods, photograph probes, mobile and distributed work


This paper describes a user research method suitable for studying mobile and distributed work when driving to develop new and innovating product concepts. Use of photograph probes is suggested to deliver a rich and multifaceted description of the work tasks and the surroundings of mobile workers. The illustrated method draws its strength from the natural understanding of pictures and photographs embedded in the modern western culture. Using cameras to document the contexts easily adapts to the apparent changes in locations with out any additional preparations. The method relies on the users themselves to generate the main research artefacts i.e. take the photographs. The method is shown to be easily adoptable and suitable for researchers of different backgrounds, produce a holistic, high-quality, description of the users and contexts and place a minimal burden on the participating workers in the form of training or equipment.

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