Autoethnography of a Mobile Medical Device

 Project: Exploring the use of autoethnography to understand the situated everyday use of mobile medical devices

PhD Researcher: Aisling Ann O’Kane

Supervisors: Ann Blandford and Yvonne Rogers


In this paper, we report on autoethnography as a method to access non-routine usage of mobile devices, such as during business trips, vacations, etc. Autoethnography, a self-study method with the researcher as participant, was employed for the evaluation of a wrist blood pressure monitor used by people with conditions such as hypertension. The findings from the study were surprising, especially with respect to the environmental and social impact on the use of the technology. Although the autoethnographic method can be disruptive for the researcher, it enables them to understand and empathize with the experiences mobile device users can face in difficult to access contexts. This method allows HCI researchers to better understand user experiences with mobile devices, including mobile medical technology, especially during non-routine times that can be difficult to study in-situ with traditional user studies.

O’Kane, A.A., Rogers, Y. and Blandford, A. “Gaining Empathy for Non-Routine Mobile Device Use Through Autoethnography” in Proceedings of the 32nd ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (ACM CHI 2014), pp. 987-990, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 26 – May 1, 2014.