How Routine Learners Can Support Family Coordination

ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Researchers have detailed the importance of routines in how people live and work, while also cautioning system designers about the importance of people’s idiosyncratic behavior patterns and the challenges they would present to learning systems. We wish to take up their challenge, and offer a vision of how simple sensing technology could capture and model idiosyncratic routines, enabling applications to solve many real world problems.

To identify how a simple routine learner can demonstrate this in support of family coordination, we conducted six months of nightly interviews with six families, focusing on how they make and execute plans. Our data reveals that only about 40% of events unfold in a routine manner. When deviations do occur, family members often need but do not have access to accurate information about their routines. With about 90% of their content concerning deviations, not routines, families do not rely on calendars to support them during these moments. We discuss how coordination tools, like calendars and reminder systems, would improve coordination and reduce stress when augmented with routine information, and how commercial mobile phones can support the automatic creation of routine models.