Visiting the inHaus in Duisburg

This morning we visited the inHaus innovation center in Duisburg (run by Fraunhofer, located on the University campus). The inHaus is a prototype of a smart environment and a pretty unique research, development and experimentation facility in Germany. We got a tour of the house and Torsten Stevens from Fraunhofer IMS showed us some current developments and several demos. Some of the demos reminded me of work we started in Lancaster, but never pushed forward beyond a research prototype, e.g. the load sensing experiments [1], [2].

The inHaus demonstrates impressively the technical feasibility of home automation and the potential of intelligent living spaces. However beyond that I strongly believe that intelligent environments have to move towards the user – embracing more the way people life their lives and providing support for user needs. Together with colleagues from Microsoft Research and Georgia Tech we organize the workshop Pervasive Computing at Home which is held as a part of Pervasive 2008 in Sydney that focuses on this topic.

Currently the market size for smart homes is still small. But looking at technological advances it is not hard to image that some technologies and services will soon move from “a luxury gadget” to “a common tool”. Perhaps wellness, ambient assistive living and home health care are initial areas. In this field we will jointly supervise a thesis project of one of our students over the next month.

Currently most products for smart homes are high quality, premium, high priced, and providing a long lifetime (typically 10 to 20 years). Looking what happened in other markets (e.g. navigation systems, now sold at 150€ retail prices including a GPS unit, maps, touch screen and video player) it seems to me there is definitely an interesting space for non-premium products in the domain of intelligent environments.

[1] Schmidt, A., Strohbach, M., Laerhoven, K. v., Friday, A., and Gellersen, H. 2002. Context Acquisition Based on Load Sensing. In Proceedings of the 4th international Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Göteborg, Sweden, September 29 – October 01, 2002). G. Borriello and L. E. Holmquist, Eds. Lecture Notes In Computer Science, vol. 2498. Springer-Verlag, London, 333-350.

[2] Albrecht Schmidt, Martin Strohbach, Kristof Van Laerhoven, Hans-Werner Gellersen: Ubiquitous Interaction – Using Surfaces in Everyday Environments as Pointing Devices. User Interfaces for All 2002. Springer LNCS.

Visiting the inHaus in Duisburg

This morning we visited the inHaus innovation center in Duisburg (run by Fraunhofer, located on the University campus). The inHaus is a prototype of a smart environment and a pretty unique research, development and experimentation facility in Germany. We got a tour of the house and Torsten Stevens from Fraunhofer IMS showed us some current developments and several demos. Some of the demos reminded me of work we started in Lancaster, but never pushed forward beyond a research prototype, e.g. the load sensing experiments [1], [2].

The inHaus demonstrates impressively the technical feasibility of home automation and the potential of intelligent living spaces. However beyond that I strongly believe that intelligent environments have to move towards the user – embracing more the way people life their lives and providing support for user needs. Together with colleagues from Microsoft Research and Georgia Tech we organize the workshop Pervasive Computing at Home which is held as a part of Pervasive 2008 in Sydney that focuses on this topic.

Currently the market size for smart homes is still small. But looking at technological advances it is not hard to image that some technologies and services will soon move from “a luxury gadget” to “a common tool”. Perhaps wellness, ambient assistive living and home health care are initial areas. In this field we will jointly supervise a thesis project of one of our students over the next month.

Currently most products for smart homes are high quality, premium, high priced, and providing a long lifetime (typically 10 to 20 years). Looking what happened in other markets (e.g. navigation systems, now sold at 150€ retail prices including a GPS unit, maps, touch screen and video player) it seems to me there is definitely an interesting space for non-premium products in the domain of intelligent environments.

[1] Schmidt, A., Strohbach, M., Laerhoven, K. v., Friday, A., and Gellersen, H. 2002. Context Acquisition Based on Load Sensing. In Proceedings of the 4th international Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Göteborg, Sweden, September 29 – October 01, 2002). G. Borriello and L. E. Holmquist, Eds. Lecture Notes In Computer Science, vol. 2498. Springer-Verlag, London, 333-350.

[2] Albrecht Schmidt, Martin Strohbach, Kristof Van Laerhoven, Hans-Werner Gellersen: Ubiquitous Interaction – Using Surfaces in Everyday Environments as Pointing Devices. User Interfaces for All 2002. Springer LNCS.

>Visiting the inHaus in Duisburg

>This morning we visited the inHaus innovation center in Duisburg (run by Fraunhofer, located on the University campus). The inHaus is a prototype of a smart environment and a pretty unique research, development and experimentation facility in Germany. We got a tour of the house and Torsten Stevens from Fraunhofer IMS showed us some current developments and several demos. Some of the demos reminded me of work we started in Lancaster, but never pushed forward beyond a research prototype, e.g. the load sensing experiments [1], [2].

The inHaus demonstrates impressively the technical feasibility of home automation and the potential of intelligent living spaces. However beyond that I strongly believe that intelligent environments have to move towards the user – embracing more the way people life their lives and providing support for user needs. Together with colleagues from Microsoft Research and Georgia Tech we organize the workshop Pervasive Computing at Home which is held as a part of Pervasive 2008 in Sydney that focuses on this topic.

Currently the market size for smart homes is still small. But looking at technological advances it is not hard to image that some technologies and services will soon move from “a luxury gadget” to “a common tool”. Perhaps wellness, ambient assistive living and home health care are initial areas. In this field we will jointly supervise a thesis project of one of our students over the next month.

Currently most products for smart homes are high quality, premium, high priced, and providing a long lifetime (typically 10 to 20 years). Looking what happened in other markets (e.g. navigation systems, now sold at 150€ retail prices including a GPS unit, maps, touch screen and video player) it seems to me there is definitely an interesting space for non-premium products in the domain of intelligent environments.

[1] Schmidt, A., Strohbach, M., Laerhoven, K. v., Friday, A., and Gellersen, H. 2002. Context Acquisition Based on Load Sensing. In Proceedings of the 4th international Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Göteborg, Sweden, September 29 – October 01, 2002). G. Borriello and L. E. Holmquist, Eds. Lecture Notes In Computer Science, vol. 2498. Springer-Verlag, London, 333-350.

[2] Albrecht Schmidt, Martin Strohbach, Kristof Van Laerhoven, Hans-Werner Gellersen: Ubiquitous Interaction – Using Surfaces in Everyday Environments as Pointing Devices. User Interfaces for All 2002. Springer LNCS.

OLPC – new interface guidelines – no file menu

We have tried several of the applications (called activities) and the basic functions seem OK. Vivien liked it and was quite curious to explore it further. The photos you can take with the built-in camera are similar in quality to a good web cam.

After discussing the Microsoft Vista interface guide in the last week of our course on User Interface Engineering it was really interesting to see the OLPC/Sugar user interface guidelines. Especially the shift away from save/open to keep and the journal are enormous changes (and hence probably quite hard for people who have used computers – obviously it is not really designed for them).

Using the measure activity provides basic tools for electronics measurements. The microphone input can be used as a simple oscilloscope and the USB port provides 1A – this makes it really interesting for experimenting, see the hardware reference.

OLPC – new interface guidelines – no file menu

We have tried several of the applications (called activities) and the basic functions seem OK. Vivien liked it and was quite curious to explore it further. The photos you can take with the built-in camera are similar in quality to a good web cam.

After discussing the Microsoft Vista interface guide in the last week of our course on User Interface Engineering it was really interesting to see the OLPC/Sugar user interface guidelines. Especially the shift away from save/open to keep and the journal are enormous changes (and hence probably quite hard for people who have used computers – obviously it is not really designed for them).

Using the measure activity provides basic tools for electronics measurements. The microphone input can be used as a simple oscilloscope and the USB port provides 1A – this makes it really interesting for experimenting, see the hardware reference.

>OLPC – new interface guidelines – no file menu

>We have tried several of the applications (called activities) and the basic functions seem OK. Vivien liked it and was quite curious to explore it further. The photos you can take with the built-in camera are similar in quality to a good web cam.

After discussing the Microsoft Vista interface guide in the last week of our course on User Interface Engineering it was really interesting to see the OLPC/Sugar user interface guidelines. Especially the shift away from save/open to keep and the journal are enormous changes (and hence probably quite hard for people who have used computers – obviously it is not really designed for them).

Using the measure activity provides basic tools for electronics measurements. The microphone input can be used as a simple oscilloscope and the USB port provides 1A – this makes it really interesting for experimenting, see the hardware reference.

OLPC – cute and interesting – but what type of computer is it?

After the conference I had finally some time to try out my new XO Laptop (OLPC). It is fairly small, has a rubber keyboard and a very good screen. It can be used in laptop and e-book mode. A colleague described it as somewhere between a mobile phone and a notebook-computer – first I did not get it – but after using it I fully understand.

There is good documentation out – the getting started manual at laptop.org provides a very good entry point. Getting it up and running was really easy (finding the key for my WIFI-Access point at home was the most difficult part ;-)

There are two interesting wikis with material online at olpcaustria.org and laptop.org. I am looking forward to trying the development environments supplied with the standard distribution (Pippy and Etoys).

I would expect when Vivien get up in the morning and sees it I will be second in line for exploring the XO further. It is really designed in a way that makes it attractive for children. To say more about about the usability (in particular the software) I need to explore it more…

To me it is not understandable why it is so difficult to get them in Europe. I think the buy 1 and donate 1 approach was very good (but again this was only in the US)…

OLPC – cute and interesting – but what type of computer is it?

After the conference I had finally some time to try out my new XO Laptop (OLPC). It is fairly small, has a rubber keyboard and a very good screen. It can be used in laptop and e-book mode. A colleague described it as somewhere between a mobile phone and a notebook-computer – first I did not get it – but after using it I fully understand.

There is good documentation out – the getting started manual at laptop.org provides a very good entry point. Getting it up and running was really easy (finding the key for my WIFI-Access point at home was the most difficult part ;-)

There are two interesting wikis with material online at olpcaustria.org and laptop.org. I am looking forward to trying the development environments supplied with the standard distribution (Pippy and Etoys).

I would expect when Vivien get up in the morning and sees it I will be second in line for exploring the XO further. It is really designed in a way that makes it attractive for children. To say more about about the usability (in particular the software) I need to explore it more…

To me it is not understandable why it is so difficult to get them in Europe. I think the buy 1 and donate 1 approach was very good (but again this was only in the US)…

>OLPC – cute and interesting – but what type of computer is it?

>After the conference I had finally some time to try out my new XO Laptop (OLPC). It is fairly small, has a rubber keyboard and a very good screen. It can be used in laptop and e-book mode. A colleague described it as somewhere between a mobile phone and a notebook-computer – first I did not get it – but after using it I fully understand.

There is good documentation out – the getting started manual at laptop.org provides a very good entry point. Getting it up and running was really easy (finding the key for my WIFI-Access point at home was the most difficult part ;-)

There are two interesting wikis with material online at olpcaustria.org and laptop.org. I am looking forward to trying the development environments supplied with the standard distribution (Pippy and Etoys).

I would expect when Vivien get up in the morning and sees it I will be second in line for exploring the XO further. It is really designed in a way that makes it attractive for children. To say more about about the usability (in particular the software) I need to explore it more…

To me it is not understandable why it is so difficult to get them in Europe. I think the buy 1 and donate 1 approach was very good (but again this was only in the US)…

Thought on Keys

Many keys (to rooms and buildings) are still tangible objects, where the tangible properties and affordances imply certain ways of usage .Who has not gotten a hotel key that you hand in at reception, because it is too big to be carried in a pocket? Moving digital many keys we get lack craft and unique affordances as they are just plastic cards or RFID tags in a specific form. With moving towards biometric authentication it seems that the key is intangible (so we loose options in the design space) but embedded into us (which opens up new possibilities).

The major drawback of physical and tangible keys is that if you don’t have it with you – when you are in front of the door they can not help you. Even if you know where the key is and you communicate with the person having the key.
… but thinking back a few days to the visions in Hiroshi Ishii’s keynote its seems that this is very short term problem. Having atoms that can be controlled (tangible bits) we can just get the data for the key from remote and reproduce it locally. With current technology this seems already very feasible – on principle – ( some Person uses a 3D scanner, e.g. embedded in a mobile device that has a camera and communication) and the other person has a 3D printer/laser cutter. Still the question remains if moving to digital keys is not much easier.

However if you do not have the key – and even so there is a solution “on principle” – it does not really help ;-)