Every day per year one place or institution is Germany is awarded “a place in the land of ideas“. This initiative is quite completive (each year well over 2000 institutions apply and the year has only 365 days…).

The innovation factory at the University of Duisburg-Essen has a really interesting vision and received the award for its concept of converting ideas into innovations and products. It promotes thinking in product rather and by this challenges researchers to look how their research results could enable new products or enhance existing products. I find this a most useful exercise –… Continue reading

There many good reason to have an international team – especilly when doing research in pervasive computing and user interface engineering. This morning I learned another one: you can have election parties (=drinks and food in the lab ;-).  Predicting elections results goes new ways and it is interesting that the Xbox Live Polls (http://blog.wired.com/games/2008/09/xbox-live-poll.html) were quite close to the result – already quite some time ago. Perhaps this large poll produced just by accident good results – but it may be a first step towards internet elections. Having internet voting on a game console brings new… Continue reading
Today we had our Pervasive at home workshop – as part of Pervasive 2008 in Sydney. We had 7 talks and a number of discussions on various topics related to smart homes. Issues ranged from long term experience with smart home deployments (Lasse Kaila et al.), development cycle (Aaron Quigley et al.), to end-user development (Joëlle Coutaz). For the full workshop proceedings see [1].

One trend that can be observed is that researchers move beyond the living lab. In the discussion it became apparent that living labs can start research efforts in this area and function as focus point for… Continue reading

This morning a new working group on tangible interaction in mixed realities (in German Be-greifbare Interaktion in Gemischten Wirklichkeiten) was established as part of the German Computer Science Society (GI). About 30 people from all over Germany gathered at B-IT in a pre-conference event to TEI’08. The group was interdisciplinary, including computer science, design, psychology, and pedagogic. The diversity of research projects as well as teaching programs in Germany in impressive.

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

The Fraunhofer institute IAO opened today a new interaction lab in Stuttgart under the topic interaction with all senses. Prof. Spath, director of the Fraunhofer IAO, made a strong argument for new user interfaces. In his talk he discussed adaptive cruse control in cars as an example for user interface challenges.

My talk on “implicit interaction – smart living in smart environments” argues for a sensible mix of user centred design and technology driven innovation. As one example I used the Sensor-Knife which Matthias Kranz implemented.

Prof. Jürgen Ziegler, a colleague at the University of Duisburg-Essen… Continue reading

Over the last few days at Ubicomp 2007 in Innsbruck it was great to catch up with many people from the community. The discussions in the evenings are very inspiring and so were some of the talks.

We tried to explain the idea of ubiquitous computing to journalist and it seems they got the idea. And hence Ubicomp 2007 was featured in the Austrian Press:

Ubicomp 2008 will be in Korea.

We visited the archeology and Stone Age museum in Bad Buchenau http://www.federseemuseum.de/. For our visit we rented their audio guide system – they had one version for kids and one for adults. The audio guides were done very well and the information was well presented.

Nevertheless such devices break the joint experience of visiting a museum! We had three devices – and we stood next to each other listening but not talking to each other. Even though it may transport more information than the written signs it makes a poorer experience than reading and discussing. I wonder how one… Continue reading

The internatonal conference on pervasive computing in Toronto had an exiting program.

The keynote was by Adam Greenfield on “Everyware: Some Social and Ethical Implications of Ubiquitous Computing” – matching a number of issues we discussed the day before at the doctoral colloquium. The talk was enjoyable even though I think some of the statements made, in particular with regard to opting out and informing the users (e.g. logos) are over-simplified. Furthermore the fact that our society and its values are changing was very little reflected, e.g. privacy is not a constant.

The best paper (by Rene Mayerhofer and Hans… Continue reading

At this years CHI – the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – we presented 3 contributions: a full paper, a CHI-note, and a work in progress paper. Have a look at them!

Holleis, P., Otto, F., Hussmann, H., and Schmidt, A. 2007. Keystroke-level model for advanced mobile phone interaction. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (San Jose, California, USA, April 28 – May 03, 2007). CHI ’07. ACM Press, New York, NY, 1505-1514. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1240624.1240851

Atterer, R. and Schmidt, A. 2007. Tracking the interaction of users with AJAX applications for usability testing.… Continue reading

In the castle on campus Ute Schütz and Michael Krapp from IAIS and SCAI organize a public panel discussion on citizen journalism and Web 2.0 trends. The discussion looked at the topic from several angles including technology, content, and communication. I had the honour to be on the panel with Wolfgang Back, Frank Patalong, Moritz „mo.“ Sauer and Thomas Tikwinski.

On issue was how much blogs are (mis)used to transport information or to do advertising. The web seems to be to many people a very believable medium. This reminded me of an article I read some time ago on story-telling… Continue reading

In Germany there are still too few girls and women interested in studying technical subjects – it may have different reasons but I think trying to convince young girls that technology is really exciting is a good way of addressing the problem.

We had this morning 7 girls visiting our lab. Matching our current teaching at B-IT (and using the test implementation Dagmar made 😉 we offered the topic “The computer knows where I am – how does this work”. First we played a mini geocaching game where they had to find a bag of jelly babies behind the castle.… Continue reading

Debora Estrin made an interesting statement. The “early challenges” (the thousands or millions of randomly scattered sensor notes) do not have much applicability outside the battlefield. The new challenges are heterogeneity (specific sensors with specific capabilities) and interactivity (basically sense-making is a process where humans are involved). She made the point that the logical consequence is that dealing with data is the essential issue and statistics have an increasing role. Furthermore these new research directions make a stromg call for application driven research. With these very insightful comments she criticised a lot of the current work in sensor networks. Especially… Continue reading

Gregor got for our Perci prototype (Supporting Mobile Service Usage through Physical Mobile Interaction) the best demo award. So it paid off that he spend a night configuring the data services on the phones for the US networks 😉 It is amazing that it is still quite an effort to configure data services for a new provider.

This year we (my previous group from LMU Munich) have a significant presence at PerCom. Form the 20 full papers the Embedded Interaction Research Group (www.hcilab.org) has 3, and additionally 1 of the 7 concise papers is from us. With a total of 207 submissions and an acceptance rate of around 10% this is quite an achievement for the team – and a good high point for the project before moving it to University of Bonn.

Gregor(y) Broll had the demo developed in the Perci-Project yesterday. Lucia Terrenghi and I had our talks today. And Gregor Broll, Sebastian… Continue reading

At PerCom 2007 (www.percom.org) Florian Michahelles (Auto-ID labs, ETH Zurich), Frédéric Thiesse (University of St. Gallen), John R. Williams (MIT Cambridge) and I are running the the PerTec workshop (www.autoidlabs.org/events/pertec2007). There is quite some interest in the topic and the range of topics is from technical to user interface and security.

In contrast to the workshop 1 year ago at Pervasive 2006 it seems that item level RFID-tagging is undisputed and that the only discussion point is when it is coming – in 6 month or 10 years. There is also still some discussion about what… Continue reading

10 years after I have got seen first see the crazy idea of wearable computing it appears that the technology is now really pushing into the marked. Even though one could argue whether or not this is really wearable computing (but this argument is as old as the idea of wearable computing). The last thing I would have expected 10 years ago was Bavarian Lederhosen with a built in user interface for an mp3-player. But nevertheless many challenges are still the same (integration with the aesthetics and fashion statement, durability and wash-ability, connectivity between computer and garment, integrated user interfaces)… Continue reading

“Deutschland – Land der Ideeen” – Germany land of ideas was really visible at the Fraunhofer exhibitions at CeBIT. For me having just recently joined Fraunhofer Gesellschaft I was amazed on the many research areas covered and the quality of the exhibits. Next generation MP3, interaction in public spaced, smart transport solutions, robots, micro-electronics, sensors – it is not really feasible to make a list… Our institute (IAIS) showed several exiting exhibits (see http://www.iais.fraunhofer.de/ for details).

At the Fraunhofer Forum at CeBIT I had the chance to talk about future transport solutions. One of my students in Munich (Michael Müller) is working on a pro-active transport container. In the project aware-goods (http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/~albrecht/awaregoods/) we looked into this domain already in 2000 at TecO together with SAP Research. Reiterating over the idea is really interesting as now the technology is really here – sensor network nodes are available, mobile phones offer massive processing power, there is ubiquitous data connectivity, and web service interfaces are available for many applications.

The big question is now on algorithms and… Continue reading

Together with Alexandra Reitelmann I am in St. Petersburg (Russia) to advertise our study programs at the B-IT and University of Bonn (http://www.bit.uni-bonn.de/). In particular we talk to potential students about the master programs in Media Informatics and Life Science Informatics. The educational fair is held in the centre of St. Petersburg at the Russian Museum of Ethnography, which is a truly magnificent building. Overall I was surprised by the city, the buildings, the shops and the quality of the hotel.

The discussions with potential students and in some cases with their parents were interesting. It showed that… Continue reading

The second international conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction (TEI’08) will be in Bonn, Germany. Together with Hans Gellersen from Lancaster University I will chair the conference in 2008. I am absolutely delighted that Elise van den Hoven from Eindhoven University of Technology and Ali Mazalek from Georgia Institute of Technology will co-chair the program. The conference will be held in the B-IT-Center in February or March 2008 – we will soon put more information on www.tei-conf.org

Some thoughts to keep in mind for 2008… In the discussion it was suggested that we capture the conference next year on video… Continue reading

Thecla Schiphorst introduced us in her talk “PillowTalk: Can We Afford Intimacy? to the concept of Affectionate-Computing.The central question is really how can we create intimacy in communication an interaction with and through technology? The prototype showed networked soft objects, that include sensors that recognize tactile qualities and gesture interaction. There are more details in her paper published at TEI’07.

Tom presented (in socks) a very inspiring keynote at TEI’07. He questioned if the notion of seamless integration of technology based on several examples from the Equator Project (www.equator.ac.uk).

A central lesson from his talk for me is to look more closely how to design interactive systems so that people can exploit the technical weakness of system creatively. We will always have to deal with sensors systems, context-recognition, and learning algorithms that are not 100% perfect. I find it interesting to see this rather as a resource for design than a problem. The experience Tom reported from… Continue reading

We got the message that our workshop proposal at the German Informatik2007 Conference is accepted. Together with colleagues from the University of Bonn and from the AutoID-Labs in Zurich I will organize a workshop on context-aware and ubiquitous computing applications in logistics. With the workshop we hope to get together interesting people who look into smart transport and logistics solutions.

The Workshop webpage is online at: ubilog.iai.uni-bonn.de and papers are due at 29.04.07. I am really looking forward to seeing the submissions.