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Press Release - 08 August 2006

Volunteers needed to help make mobiles more user-friendly

Researchers at the University of Bath are looking for local volunteers to help them design user-friendly software for the mobile phones of the future.

As part of the research, they will ask the volunteers to spend 90 minutes carrying out a simple task involving interactive content in an art exhibition.

Volunteers will use specially created experimental software on a mobile phone that senses their location in the exhibition.

During this time, they will monitor volunteers’ levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone present in saliva, and their heart rates in order to measure the emotional effect that the software has on them.

This will enable them to work out which elements of the software cause people to become ‘stressed out’. They can then use the findings to improve mobile phone software to make it more user-friendly.

“Understanding the emotional effects of the mobile technology that plays an ever increasing role in our lives is crucial to improving its design,” said Duncan Ray, the postgraduate student who is carrying out the research with the departments of Psychology and Computer Science.

“Without such deeper understanding, new technologies are often rejected by the majority of their intended users.

“We need as many people as possible to participate in the study in order to make the research as useful as possible.

“The study involves a short and enjoyable activity, but the majority of the volunteers’ time will be spent relaxing to ensure we can obtain good results from the physiological measures.

“In all, the study should not take more than 90 minutes and refreshments will be provided.

“We are looking for volunteers over the age of 18 with a range of experiences in using mobile phones, from those who only use their mobile to send text messages to regular WAP users.”

The volunteers will be able to take part in the study at any time between 10.00 and 19:00 (Tuesday-Thursday) or 10:00 and 22:00 (Friday-Monday) from Saturday 12 August until Sunday 20 August.

The study will take place in Studio 1 of the Arts Barn on the University campus.


The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/

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