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"Forget-me-not" Intimate Computing in Support of Human Memory

Mik Lamming, Mike Flynn
At RXRC we have been trying to understand how anticipated developments in mobile computing will impact our customers in the 21st century. One opportunity we can see is to improve computer-based support for human memory -- ironically a problem in office systems research that has almost been forgotten. Considering how often computers are presented as devices capable of memorising vast quantities of information, and performing difficult-to-memorise sequences of operations on our behalf, we might be surprised at how often they appear to have increased the load on our own memory. The Forget-me-not project is an attempt to explore new ways in which mobile and ubiquitous technologies might help alleviate the increasing load. Forget-me-not is a memory aid designed to help with everyday memory problems: finding a lost document, remembering somebody's name; recalling how to operate a piece of machinery. It exploits some well understood features of human episodic memory to provide alternative ways of retrieving information that was once known but has now been forgotten. We start by introducing a model of computing in the 21st century which we call the Intimate Computing model and talk about some of the opportunities and problems we anticipate it will provoke. After cursory introduction to the basics of human episodic memory, we describe the architecture and user interface of Forget-me-not. We end with a few preliminary conclusions drawn from our early experiences with the prototype.
Proc. FRIEND21, '94 International Symposium on Next Generation Human Interface. 2-4 February 1994, Meguro Gajoen, Japan.