Introduction

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A considerable portion of all mobile phone calls is made in car contexts

(Koslowski, 2002). While the car context involves novel session management

considerations, little has been done to specifically support sustained car

conversations. We refer to sustained car conversations as telephone calls

supported by whichever phone resource suitable for the ongoing activity of

approaching, driving, or leaving the car.

Even though previous empirical studies acknowledge the ongoing nature of

conversations (Whitaker et al., 1997; Wiberg, 2001a) and the frequency of

media switches during these ongoing conversations (Nardi et al., 2000),

however, media switches between mobile phones (brought into or out of the

car) and in-car resources are poorly supported by current in-car conversation

systems. This is both a convenience and a safety problem. First, considerable

overhead work is required for transferring a call to the in-car phone resources

when entering the car for driving. In order to use the in-car phone resources

(such as in-car screens and dashboard buttons for phone manipulation), the call

must be ended and restored using the in-car phone. Second, as Salvucci (2001)

outlines, the car is a perceptually demanding and dynamic place. Secondary

tasks, such as talking on the phone, must be subordinated the primary task of

driving the car. The safety hazards of mobile phone use are widely reported

(Brookhuis et al., 1991; Redelmeier & Tibshirani, 1997), and it can be

suggested that the lack of support for media switches is part of that problem.

In this chapter, we approach seamless car conversations across media platforms

(i.e., mobile phones and in-car resources) as a session management

problem. Session management within CSCW refers to the process of starting,

stopping, joining, leaving, and browsing collaborative situations (Edwards,

1994; Kristoffersen & Ljungberg, 1999; Wiberg, 2001a). While this research

focuses on session management on single media platforms (e.g., Edwards,

1994), however, it does not address sustained media switches during ongoing

sessions.

To address this problem, we have developed a session management model for

supporting user-controlled media switches during ongoing phone conversations.

The model is illustrated and validated by a car conversation system

prototype, SeamlessTalk, designed to increase convenience and safety. Based

on a use case developed according to Caroll’s (2000) task-artifact cycle, we

demonstrate how SeamlessTalk addresses the convenience and safety problems

of car conversations. The user-controlled session management model

contributes to current research on session management by addressing the

explicit/implicit session management dichotomy in multiple media situations.