Jaewoo Chung Thesis Defense

December 8, 2011


MIT Media Lab, E14-633


People can easily become mindless in their decision-making and become disengaged from their surroundings when their actions depend on information and guidance from an assistive technology. Research has shown how automated navigation assistance systems lead users to be disengaged from the space through which they are traveling, resulting in poor recollection of the environment and poorer situational decision-making. This disengagement and mindlessness can potentially increase the risk of accidents and lower the quality of user experience. If we can help people become mindfully attentive to the environment and surroundings while carrying out navigation tasks using assistive technologies, Chung hypothesizes that we will have better memory of the space, improved cognitive reconstruction of environment, and better understanding of the immediate situation, all of which will lead to better decision-making and more efficient navigation. 

In this work, Chung presents a new approach for analyzing the problem of navigation assistance for pedestrians, which considers both the physical and psychological constraints of users focused on navigation. He addresses the physical constraint that eyes should remain “on the street” by providing a new visual interface, named Guiding Light, that offers a mixed-reality presentation of guidance information in the environment itself, instead of on a screen. We address the psychological constraint that minds should remain engaged with the environment by applying a framework based on mindfulness and mindlessness theory (Langer 1989) in the design of the system. The theory explains how mindsets affect engagement levels and decision-making in daily activities.

In addition, this thesis describes a novel indoor positioning technology that provides relatively high accuracy localization and heading orientation of a user in indoor environments. Indoor positioning itself is very challenging task and we dedicated great amount of time developing the system. The innovation not only involved developing a new sensor, but also a software system to collect fingerprint maps and tracking location the fingerprint maps. This new technology opens a new area in the field to explore other possibilities of using magnetic field based positioning systems.

Host/Chair: Chris Schmandt


Pattie Maes, Ellen Langer

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