Pertti Huuskonen from Nokia presented his keynote at Percom in Mannheim. I worked with Pertti in 1999 on a European Project TEA – creating context-aware phones [1].

After telling us about CERN and some achievements in physics he raised the issue that an essential skill of humans is that they are context-aware. Basically culture is context-awareness – learning how to appropriately behave in life is essential to be accepted. We do this by looking at other people and by learning how how they act and how others react. “Knowing how to behave” we become fit for social life and this… Continue reading

I came across 2 Sensor module recently released by ST Microelectronics:

There will be in the future probably very few mobile devices without such sensors. When we worked on the project TEA in 1999 it seemed far away… What can you do with sensors on the mobile? There are a few papers to read: using them for context awareness [1], for interaction [2], [3], and for creating smart devices [4].

Last week in Finland I met Antii Takaluoma (one of… Continue reading

Together with colleagues from Nokia, VTT, and CMU we organized a workshop on Context-Aware Mobile Media and Mobile Social Networks at MobileHCI 2009.

The topic came up in discussions some time last year. It is very clear that social network have moved towards mobile scenarios and that utilizing context and contextual media adds a new dimension. The workshop program is very diverse and ranges studying usage practices to novel technological solutions for contextual media and application.

One topic that is interesting to further look at is to use (digital) social networks for health care. Taking an analogy in history… Continue reading

We met in Munich at Docomo Euro Labs to start a new project that is related to context and ambient visualizations. And everyone already got bunnies 😉

Related to this there is a large and very interesting project: IYOUIT. Besides other things it can record and share your context – if you have a Nokia series 60 phone you should try it out. As far as I remember it was voted best mobile experience at mobile HCI 2008. 

Over the last days there were a number of interesting papers presented and so it is not easy to pick a selection… Here is my random paper selection from Ubicomp 2008 that link to our work (the conference papers link into the ubicomp 2008 proceedings in the ACM DL, our references are below):

Don Patterson presented a survey on using IM. One of the finding surprised me: people seem to ignore “busy” settings. In some work we did in 2000 on mobile availability and sharing context users indicated that they would respect this or at least explain when… Continue reading

We got a new USB GPS tracker(from Mobile Action, GT100) and had to try it out on the trip to Korea. It worked very well compared to the other devices we had so far. It got the bus trip in Düsseldorf airport right and the entire flight from Amsterdam to Seoul. Tracking worked well in the taxi from the Airport to the hotel. While walking in downtown Seoul it still performed OK (given the urban canyons) with some outliers.

It did not get any signal while we were on the Fokker-50 from Düsseldorf to… Continue reading

On the way into town we got a really good price for the taxi (just make a mental note never to negotiate something with Florian and Alireza at the same time 😉 It seems taxi driving is sort of boring – he too watched television while driving (like the taxi driver some weeks ago in Amsterdam). I think we should seriously think more about entertainment for micro breaks because I still think it is for a good reason not allowed to watch TV while driving.

Seoul is an amazing place. There are many digital signs and electronic adverts. Walking back… Continue reading

When we re-entered South Korea I saw guard looking with an infrared camera at all arriving people. It was very hot outside so the heads were very red. My assumption is that this is used to spot people who have fever – however I could not verify this.

Looking at the images created while people moved around I realized that for many tasks in activity recognition, home health care, and wellness this may be an interesting technology to use. For several tasks in context-awareness it seems straightforward to get this information from an infrared camera. In the computer vision domain… Continue reading

Norbert Streitz – Trade-off for creating smartness

Norbert gave an interesting overview of research in the domain of ubicomp based on his personal experience – from Xerox PARC to the disappearing computer. He motivated the transition from Information Design to Experience Design. Throughout the work we see a trade-off between providing “smart support” to the user and “privacy” (or control over privacy). One of the questions if we will re-invent privacy or if it will become a commodity… As one of the concrete examples Norbert introduced the Hello.Wall done in the context Ambient Agoras [1]. This again brought up the… Continue reading

The first day of the symposium was exciting and we saw a wide range of contributions from context-awareness to machine vision. In following I have a few random notes on some of the talks…

Thad Starner, new idea on BCIThad Starner gave a short history of his experience with wearable computing. He argued that common mobile keyboards (e.g. mini-querty, multi-tap, T9) are fundamentally not suited real mobile tasks. He showed the studies of typing with the twiddler – the data is impressive. He is arguing for cording keyboards and generally he suggests that “Typing while walking is easier… Continue reading

This evening I went to Münster to meet with Antonio Krüger and Lucia Terrenghi (who is now with Vodafone), who was visiting there. Advertisement is a hot topic and it was interesting that we shared an interesting observation “If the advert/information is the least boring thing to look at people will read it ;-)”. Each of us having their favorite anecdotal evidence: my favorites are people reading the same map everyday at their U-station and the advertising flyers in the Munich S-Train. For context-aware advertisement this is the major challenge to find the time/location where people are bored and happy… Continue reading

Pervasive 2007 introduced a new form of tutorials – having a number of experts talking one hour about their special topic – I was last year as participant and liked it a lot. This year Pervasive 2008 repeated this approach and I contributed a tutorial on how to get context and activity from sensors (tutorial slides in PDF).

Abstract. Intelligent environments, sensor network and smart objects are inherently connected to building systems that sense phenomena in the real world and make the perceived information available to applications. In the first part of the tutorial an overview of sensors… Continue reading

This morning we had the great opportunity to observe and discuss workflows and work practice in the operating area in the Elisabeth hospital in Essen. It was amazing how much time from (really busy) personnel we got and this provided us with many new insights.

The complexity of scheduling patients, operations, equipment and consumables in a very dynamic environment poses a great challenges and it was interesting to see how well it works with current technologies. However looking at the systems used and considering upcoming pervasive computing technologies a great potential for easing tasks and processes is apparent. Keeping tracking… 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 afternoon our UbiLog workshop was held in Bremen as part of the Informatik 2007 conference. We selected 4 papers for presentation and had a lively and interesting discussion.

Following the talk of Nikolai Krambrock we discussed the use context, and in particular location, to restrict or allow access to information. My favourite example is an online-banking appliance that only works in predefined areas (e.g. at home and in my car). Using context appears one option in creating human understandable solutions for secure systems. People have developed means to protect physical objects and valuable, perhaps we should draw more on… Continue reading

Some weeks ago Ben Sutherland from The Economist called. He was researching for an article discussing the computing revolution over the last 25 years. In his research he to talked to many different people (from different countries, different fields, different views) and was particularly interested in applications that will come in the future and with me in particular on the concept of context-awareness.

The article “The trouble with computers” appeared 6th of September and discusses a mix of ideas and viewpoints. We talked about 30 minutes on the phone and I am quite surprised what statement he picked… Continue reading

At the German HCI conference (Mensch und Computer) I organized together with Paul Holleis and Klaus Bengler (BMW Group) a workshop on automotive user interfaces. We were surprised how many people work and research in this area in Germany and Austria.

The 9 talks showed a wide range of research results and questions ranging from activity recognition, search interfaces, cultural issues to research methods. Dagmar Kern presented our work on a new method for interviewing drivers at the gas station. Stefan Graf from BMW groups had an interesting demo on object oriented interaction and in-car text input.… Continue reading

In a German science news ticker I saw an article a inspiring post reporting an experiment on orientation in relation to food. It describes an experiment where men and women were asked to visit a set of market stalls to taste food and afterwards they are asked where the stall was.

The to me surprising result was that women performed better than men (which is to my knowledge not often the case in typical orientation experiments) and that independent of gender the amount of calories that are contained in the tasted food influenced the performance. Basically if there are… Continue reading

In the resent month the question about ubiquitous, pervasive, ambient computing came up several times. An email by Jos Van Esbroeck motivated me to write my view on it…

Clarifying the terms seems an ongoing process as various communities and individuals use each of those terms for new things they are doing.

For me the best way to discriminate the terms ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, and ambient intelligence is by their origin, history and research communities.

The first term (ubiquitous computing, ubicomp) is linked to Mark Weiser and his vision of computing in the 21st century [1]. In the research… Continue reading

Based on the submissions we have selected in a peer-review process 4 papers for presentations and discussion the the Ubilog’07 workshop. The program including title and abstract is online at http://ubilog.iai.uni-bonn.de/2007/program.html

The workshop is part of the Conference Informatik-2007 and will be held on the 27th of September in Bremen, Germany.

This morning we presented selected demos of the lab on location and context awareness to people at the Fraunhofer IAIS. Besides the fact that our main infrastructure component (the Ubisense indoor system) did not work the demos went well. It was very strange – the infrastructure worked for the last 6 weeks (including several reboots) and this morning after rebooting the server it did not find the sensors anymore for several hours.

The majority of demos were based on the second assignment which was to create a novel application that makes use of an indoor location system. The applications implemented… Continue reading

I first saw a paper about a context-aware sink at CHI 2005 (Bonanni, L., Lee, C.H., and Selker, T. “Smart Sinks: Real World Opportunities for Context-Aware Interaction.” Short paper in proceedings of Computer Human Interfaction (CHI) 2005, Portland OR).

Yesterday I saw a illuminated faucet in the wild – one which looked in terms of design really great (in the restaurant they even had flyers advertising the product). But after using it I was really disappointed. It uses the concept of color-illumination of the water based on temperature (red hot, blue cold).

The main issue I see with… Continue reading

The airport Köln-Bonn (CGN) has all the parking spaces monitored with a simple sensor (detects if there is a car or not) and provides displays at the entrance showing the number of open spaces and has active signage in the parking garage leading to the free spaces – additionally it is visualized above each space – probably more a maintenance functions to see if the sensor works.

(looking at the pictures I have probably parked on women-only parking spots…)