Monthly Archives: January 2008

Today I met with Matthias Kranz in Munich. Besides discussing his thesis I got to see his new car (a prius) – quite impressive and interesting interfaces. Later I met with Wolfang Spießl who started recently his PhD in cooperation with BMW – again seeing an interesting and impressive (test)car.

It is really curious to see that there is a lot of interest in the hobbyist communities on car interfaces and protocols. In the June/2007 issues of Elektor (http://www.elektor.de/) was an article on a OBD-2-analyser, in a recent issue of the EAM (http://www.eam-magazin.de/) was a similar… Continue reading

Today I was reminded of a discussion in 1998 on the implications of computing technologies becoming cheaper and cheaper. Even then it seemed inevitable that many artifacts will include computational and perceptual qualities. The discussion was in the context of the European project TEA (technology for enabling awareness) where we built a context-aware phone [1]. Walter van de Velde suggested imagining that processors, sensors, communication will only cost cents (or will be virtually free as part of the production process) and we worked on the question: what products and services will emerge? One generic answer then was than any… Continue reading

This morning a heating and water technician checked on the wet spots on my wall in my new flat in Essen. Using a hygrometer he looked for the area which is most damp and then he broke a hole into the wall. After opening the wall, it was very easy to see that the outside wall is wet and that the heating is OK.

The hole in the wall does not really look good

This makes me wonder when building materials, with sensing included will move from the lab to the real world. Pipe insulation, plaster boards, stones with integrated… Continue reading

I was today in Karlsruhe at Learntec, a trade fare and congress for technologies in learning, training and education. Alois Ferscha organized a session on pervasive computing and learning.

My talk was entitled “back to the roots – technologies for interweaving learning and experience”. I stared out with the question: What is the difference between an apple tree and a biology book. In essence my argument is that (1) first hand experience can not be replaced, (2) we need consolidated knowledge based on the experience to learn efficiently, and (3) pervasive computing technologies can bridge the gulf between… Continue reading

It seems that in the research community a lot of people are convinced of interactive public spaces and interactive window displays. Over the last month I have see great visions and ideas – as well as reflected on our own multi-touch ideas for interactive shop windows.

The installations I have seen in the real world however are at best boring (and often not functioning at all). It seems that even a student-project-lab-demo is more appealing and works at least as realiable.

Especially combining sensing (e.g. simple activity recognition, context) with low threshold interactive content seems to have great potential. If… Continue reading

In the news section on standard software in the Germany IT magazine IX a Forrester Consulting survey was quoted that provides some evidence that UIs matter. . The survey states that for over 80% of CIOs and heads of IT departments the user interface is critical when they make buying decisions. (photo of the article is from IX 2008-01)

The IX magazine is typically more technically oriented and I think little article underlines a trend that happens: people responsible in IT realized how vital the interaction between users and systems are. In my eyes optimizing the user interface is in… Continue reading

When I was still in Munich we worked on the PERCI project together with DoCoMo Euro-lab. This collaboration was very fruitful, as all partners had a deep understanding what they are doing an where technically excellent.

After my moving we finally found some time again to discuss project ideas. There are many options in the mobile domain and we found some interesting topics related to advertising where their expertise and our expertise could create interesting synergies.

Recently Frank Spychalski (a student from Karlsruhe University 1999) contacted me and told me that he is now with Google in Munich. As we were in Munich anyway we took the chance to meet (and as the schedule was already full breakfast was the only time slot left).

The office in Munich is close to Marienplatz, the very central spot in Munich. They are currently setting up an engineering team. It looks like a great place to work. Perhaps there may be options for some of our students to do an internship in the future.

The visit at Google reminded… Continue reading

In contrast to us people in the medical domain seem to start early in the morning. In the process of preparing a project proposal we visited the Elisabeth Hospital in Essen. We got the chance to see some invasive heart exams first hand.

It is impressive how well such complex processes run and how quick the staff can assess the conditions. Looking for potential to make theses processes easier is a touch challenges – espcially if you do not do this by sitting at your desk but if you want it to be realistic. In the discussion with the head… Continue reading

Today we had a group of pupils (high school students) visiting our department. The kids are from schools in the Duisburg/Essen area and have a keen interest in math. They meet regularly with people at University to learn more about the subject.

Living in our own world where everything seems related to pervasive computing it is good to sometime realize that this is still an alien topic. We gave a quick introduction, defining user interface engineering and pervasive computing and then showed two demos of student work in progress (multi-touch displays and driving simulator).

Perhaps some of them are convinced… Continue reading

Currently we work in one of our courses on a specific multi-touch table. Students have already created a first version of an interesting application – and ideas for many more are there. However so far our prototype does not look like a table.

Learning that our university has central workshops we went there to talk about our project and to get the mechanical parts built. Our first meeting was really interesting – we got a tour and saw drilling and milling machines as well as a cutter that works with water (can cut glass precisely – extremely impressive). Best of… Continue reading

It was great to spend some time chatting with Alois Ferscha and Gabi Kotsis in Linz. We discussed future forms of advertisement and it seems that it is very clear that pervasive computing technologies – ranging from new displays, to tracking and implicit and explicit interaction – will change our high streets (and any other place where we expect or don’t advertising) in the near future significantly. Looking at current installations we can already see that the race for grapping customer’s attention is on. Given the many ideas around I expect it will be quite exciting.

One interesting movie on… Continue reading

Gabi Kotsis produced at dinner one of the rarest bottles of wine – an original Pervasive 2004 wine (Alois Ferscha had it made extra for the conference and he designed the label, too) – and she opened it!

The wine is great. It brought back some memories of a very intersting doctoral colloquium in Linz and a splendid conference in the Vienna Hofburg with an excellent scientific program. Somehow I remember that after one evening (and some conference wine) I agreed to run Pervasive 2005 in Munich…

As we have quite a good number of registrations for TEI’08 in… Continue reading