Portable, But Not Mobile: A Study of Wireless Laptops in the Home
We report a qualitative study of the use of physical space and wireless laptops by ten United States households. Although wireless laptops purportedly offer the opportunity and affordances to go “anywhere in the home,” laptops were generally used in a small set of particular places rather than moving fluidly through the home: wireless laptops were portable, but not mobile per se We present factors that influence laptop movement in the home. We also present a model of people’s use of space in the home, identifying a small set of favored places of long-term use and a larger set of kinetic places used for specific tasks. We discuss how the factors we have identified generally promote use of laptops in favored places and generally discourage use of laptops in kinetic places. We discuss how our findings are relevant to the design of technologies for the home.