We recently found out that a paper focused on understanding more about how and why people use their mobile devices at home and while watching TV has been accepted for publication at TvX 2015 In Winter 2014, my Yahoo Labs colleagues Christian Holz, Frank Bentley, Mitesh Patel and I conducted a mixed-method study conducted involving 7 participants in 7 diverse households. We set out to understand more about mobile device use in and around the home and in particular, in conjunction with watching TV.
In order to understand this use we equipped a primary participants mobile phone and tablet with Android logging software which tracked all the apps the participant used and when. We tracked indoor location using 4 BLE beacons around participants’ homes, primarily in the living area, kitchen, and bedroom. Finally, we placed a dedicated phone that ran sound-printing software by participants’ main television sets to detect and log which TV programs our participants watched.
To understand more about the motivations of using devices in and around the home, and in particular while watching TV we also conducted interviews at the beginning and end of the 2-week study period. Participants were also asked to leave a voicemail message once per day summarizing how they used their smartphone and tablet that day. Surprisingly, we found little difference between the volume of device use during programs and commercials, but we did uncover interesting patterns of device use with different genres of program as well as differences in the apps used during programs and commercials. This study sets the stage for larger-scale investigations into the details of mobile interactions while watching television!