At the moment there is an interesting discussion in Germany: should the state buy data (leaked out of a Swiss bank) that give details on people who have not paid their taxes in Germany. I will not add to the political discussion on that as there have been many arguments – some interesting and others funny. I am only amused about a small party that is very much against it. But one has to be fair – this is after all an indicator that democracy works 😉 parties represent the interests of their voters…

I think on a more general… Continue reading

What did I do with Vivien the last weekends? We soldered a radio receiver kit (retro style) and it worked – there are still plenty of stations on the air all over Europe. Nowadays you have to make quite some effort to find interesting electronic kits – besides the radio we got a candle light simulator (it is an LED controlled by a PIC microcontroller that imitates a realistic flickering candle in the form factor a small candle).

Do you remember the Sony walkman? It was at the time quite a revolution – looking at it now it looks a… Continue reading

Why would I write a post about a power plug? Perhaps in some years this may be so common that we do not know when the first appeared 😉 And here is my reference point for Essen, Germany.There is a German news article about these chargeing points – there are 22 in Essen and they started sometime back in Berlin (where they plan to have 500 by the end of the year).

It looks very much like an ordinary power plug and I have not figured out how it really works – e.g. How to pay? How to reserve that… Continue reading

On the trip to Potsdam two young women sat opposite us – discussion one-by-one the pages in the yearbook of their school. The yearbook was from a school in Berlin was from 2009 and printed in highest quality – quite professional. Their discussion had a lot of forward references (what will become of people – and how they see and present themselves now). Looking back 10, 20 or 30 years after leaving school these images and texts are very interesting… There is a real value in paper that cannot be altered – here new technologies (facebook and alike) that evolve… Continue reading

Instead of covering the history of calculating machines in the DSD lecture, we took the train and went to the Arithmeum in Bonn to the see the artefacts live and to play with some of them. We started with early means for counting and record keeping. The tokens and early writings did not use numbers as abstract concepts, rather as representatives of concrete objects – this is very inspiring, especially from a tangible interaction point of view. The knots, as used in south America, show impressively how the tools for calculation have to fit the context people live in. Interestingly… Continue reading
Today I was teaching my class on user interface engineering and we covered a selected history of HCI and looked at the same time at a potential future. We discussed how user interface evolved and where UI revolutions have happed. To my question “What is the ultimate user interface?” I got three very interesting answers (1) a keyboard, (2) mind reading, and (3) a system that anticipates what I want.  With regard to history in HCI one of my favorite texts is the PhD dissertation of Ivan Sutherland [1]. The work described was done in 1960-1963 when the idea… Continue reading

[see the whole set of photos from tour to North Korea]

From Gwangju we took the bus shortly after midnight to go for a trip to North Korea. The students did a great job in organizing ISUVR and the trip. It was great to have again some time to talk to Yoosoo Oh, who was a visiting researcher in Munich in our group.

When entering North Korea there are many rules, including that you are not allowed to take cameras with tele-lenses over 160mm (so I had to take only the 50mm lens) and you must not… Continue reading

I had a day off an was as “teaching assistant” on a school trip with the kids my wife is teaching. The trip went to a museum village (Wackershofen), which tries to preserve and communicate how people lived about 100 years ago.

On side observation was that in digital photography the limiting factor is now not anymore the memory space but the batteries in the camera. This has changed over the last 2 years – there children still selected which pictures they have to delete – now that is no issue anymore. This shows that some of the trends… Continue reading

For people who already arrive on Sunday, the day before the conference, we organised some museum visits: Arithmeum, Haus der Geschichte, Deutsches Museum, and Art Gallery. I only had time to see the Arithmeum (http://www.arithmeum.uni-bonn.de/) which was pretty impressive. Hiroshi Ishii (the keynote speaker of the conference) and Brygg Ullmer (last years conference co-chair) joined us, too.

It was unexpected how close the displayed artefacts are to our current research on tangible interaction. We had a very good guided tour by Nina Mertens, who gave us an interesting overview from counting tokens to calculation machines. Some of the… 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

In the school museum I came across two very simple pen-based computing aids. The devices are very simple mechanical tools that help to do addition and subtraction. It was called ADDIATOR.

The utility is limited to addition and subtraction and it provides a very simple mechanism to deal with carry-over. If the number which is to be moved is white the calculation is without carry-over and one pulls it down. If the number is red then there will be a carry over one has to pull up and around the semi-circle (this is the mechanism for carry over). A… Continue reading

After my daughter started school on Saturday we visited a historic school on Sunday. Comparing teaching materials is interesting. Especially providing up to date information in geography must haven quite a costly task. Many expensive charts and maps that were printed on canvas are now freely available in digital form. It seems that instead of having a film project, a slight projector, an overhead projector and canvas displays a computer and projector with internet access will do. Similarly having stamps to reproduce maps seems like ancient history, even though it has been still in use 20 years ago.

However I… Continue reading

We visited the school museum at Friedrichshafen. Looking around the exhibition it became very obvious that teaching material used to be much more tangible and physical as they are nowadays.

I think it is worthwhile investigating where the value of tangibility is!

I often wonder why one would like to include sensing into other objects. It seems however that there is a tradition and has its roots before the digital 🙂

The pencil case has a thermometer included. The function is that the pupil can figure out when they get the rest of the day off due to high temperature (Hitzefrei). Not convinced that is was a great seller…

News papers in the UK have reported that sales for audio tapes at Currys were down from 83 million in 1989 to 0.1 million in 2006 and hence Currys is going to stop stocking them. We recently discussed how expensive talking toys (in particular dolls) were just twenty years ago. The were based on mini records or endless tapes. By now storage chips are so cheap that a good birthday card can sing you happy birthday.

How long will it take before electronic paper will replace printed paper in the large? At least it is close enough to seriously think… Continue reading