Master's Thesis

Master's Thesis

For my master's thesis I designed, implemented and evaluated a system to help with group management in the mobile context. Specifically, it was aimed at supervisory personnel in the education sector. The thesis is available online.

It seemed obvious, from observation, that keeping together a group of people on the move is a difficult and stressful task. This is especially apparent when watching e.g. school or kindergarten classes on field trips. Some teachers use uniform, bright clothing for their students as a form of visual aid, to find them again in chaotic situations. It struck me as a missed opportunity that, with all our recent advancements in wireless sensor networks, they still had to rely on such strategies. I theorised that this was something were the addition of technology really could provide added value for the user.

A teacher counting her pupils during a field trip © Daniel Auferbauer

During the work on my thesis, I designed a system that would help to keep track of whether or not all members of a group are present. During preliminary interviews with elementary school teachers it became clear that losing a pupil during hectic situations was one of the most problematic issues. My solution consisted of a master device carried by the teacher and items of clothing to be carried by his/her pupils. These items would communicate via the ZigBee wireless protocol. The pupil's items were of various designs including high visibility vests and headgear as well as pendants to be worn around the neck.

Close-up of the electronics used for the prototype in high visibility vests © Daniel Auferbauer

I consider the thesis to be a success. After having established the acceptance of the target audience I implemented and evaluated a working prototype system. Through interviews and observation in the field I concluded that such a system would be highly useful to teachers. It could be extended easily to other, similar applications such as e.g. tourist groups. If you want to know more about the project, the full thesis is available online. For a shorter version you may also read a paper on it.