ACI poses some challenging questions. For example:

  • How can we elicit requirements from nonhuman users?
  • How can we involve them in the design process?
  • How can we evaluate the technology we develop for them?
  • How can we investigate the interplay between them, technology and their contexts?
  • How can we even begin to develop a user-centred design approach for them?

Here is a proposed roadmap which might help ACI researchers tackle such challenging questions:

  1. Look at what has been done in other areas, what knowledge about animal behaviour and psychology is available, what data has already been collected about animal-computer interactions. We could look at how all that maps onto what we know about user-computer interactions and how it might contribute to ACI as a discipline and design practice.
  2. Form collaborations with researchers from disciplines such as ethology, behavioural medicine, animal psychology, veterinary, agricultural and environmental engineering to help us with this mapping effort. Similarly, the expertise and experience of professionals and practitioners who work with animals in environments where animal-computer interactions take place would be important.
  3. Study in-the-wild cases of whatever technology is already in use or might be developed in order to understand those domains and contexts, their users and stakeholders, so that we could begin to develop or adapt relevant ACI concepts and models.
  4. Look at human-centred interaction design protocols and methods in order to assess which might or might not be relevant to an animal-centred design process, which might be adapted, which might be borrowed from other disciplines, and which might need to be developed from scratch.
  5. Start adapting, developing and integrating animal-centred interaction design protocols and methods, for example, for requirements elicitation, participatory design, contextual evaluation, etc., in a loop between empirical work and theoretical reflection.
  6. Start developing theoretical models of animal-computer interaction, which can then drive further research. These would take into account pre-ACI research on animals and would be informed by ACI empirical research with animals.

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