PhD Defense: Yao Wang

Event Date: 
Wed, 2017-04-19 14:00 - 16:00

Location: 1110 Knowledgeworks II

Title: Exploring the Role of Prospective Memory in the Design of Location-Based Reminders


Location-based reminder systems (LBRs) are typically used to remind people to complete a to-do task at a particular location. People use their prospective memory to remember future to-do tasks. However, the current design of LBRs fails to take advantage of human prospective memory theory. In this dissertation, I propose a framework connecting human prospective memory theory with LBRs. My work applies human prospective memory into the technical design of LBRs. The goal of my work is to make the reminder work more consistently with how human memory works.

Prospective memory research suggests that encoding of the location and familiarity with the location have an impact on prospective remembering. I conducted two empirical studies to test how this theoretical knowledge applies to LBRs. In one experiment, I hypothesized that if the encoding stage provides a closer match to the retrieval stage in LBRs, then location recognition and task recall should improve at retrieval time. The results indicate that providing a first-person view (street view of the desired location) at the encoding stage benefits prospective remembering the most. In the second experiment, I hypothesized that familiarity with a location has an impact on the location recognition at the retrieval. The results show that the encoding interface is used differently for familiar and unfamiliar cities and businesses to support recognizing a target location. Then I designed a LBR prototype by applying these research findings and conducted the evaluation study.

The results have implications for the encoding interface design of future LBRs. Designers should 1) provide more support in matching the encoding stage to the eventual cue in retrieval stage and 2)consider the user’s familiarity level with the places at the encoding stage to provide a better user experience. My work showed the importance of using prospective memory theory in the design of LBR systems.