It seems this term we picked a good slot for the lecture. On Thursday we had Prof. Silvia Miksch from Vienna University of Technology visiting our institute. We took this chance for another guest lecture in my advanced HCI class. Silvia presented a talk with the title “A Matter of Time: Interactive Visual Analytics of Time-Oriented Data and Information”. She first introduced the notion of interactive visual analytics and then systematically showed how time oriented data can be visually presented.

I really liked how Silvia motivated visual analytics and could not resist to adapt it with a Christmas theme. The… Continue reading

Bryan started his keynote talk the automotive user interface conference (auto-ui.org) in Salzburg with reminding us that having controversial discussions about the HMI in the car is not new. Quoting a newspaper article from the 1930s on the introduction of the radio in the car and its impact on the driver he picked an interesting example, that can be seen as the root of many issues we have now with infotainment systems in the car.

The central question he raised is: how to create user interface that fit human users? He made an important point: humans are not “designed”… Continue reading

2343 attendees came to CHI 2010 this year to Atlanta. Participants are from 43 countries and the colored map suggested that a good number came from Germany. Outside it really feels like spring 🙂

Overall CHI 2010 received 2220 submission across 13 categories of which 699 were accepted. In the paper and nodes categories there were 1345 submissions of which 302 were accepted (22% acceptance rate).

Genevieve Bell from Intel is a cultural anthropologist and she presented the CHI opening keynote with the title: “Messy Futures: culture, technology and research”. She is a great story teller and showed exemplarily the… Continue reading

Mohan Kumar and Marco Conti organized an EU/NSF workshop on Future Directions in Pervasive Computing and Social Networking for Emerging Applications. They managed to get together an interesting set of people and the discussion in the break out session were very enjoyable and I got a number of ideas what really are the challenges to come.

There are the position statements on the web page and at some point the identified grand challenges will be available.

PS: blackboards are still highly effective 😉

After several tries we finally managed to travel to Dortmund (half an hour on the S-Train) to visit Gernot A. Fink‘s group at the Technical University Dortmund. Bastian Pfleging did with this group his master thesis before he joined us. The research focus of the group is on signal processing and computer vision. They also follow an experimental approach – building systems that work (which we saw in the demos). In their lab space they have setup a building (basically a house inside a house – impressive!).

I have learned about a new location technology based on passive infrared… Continue reading

We have a number of student projects that look at novel applications and novel application platforms on mobile phones. As Michael Rohs from T-Labs is also teaching a course on mobile HCI we thought it would be a good opportunity to meet and discuss some application ideas.

I gave a talk in Michael’s lecture discussing the concept of user interfaces beyond the desktop, context as enabling technology, and future applications in mobile, wearable and ubiquitous computing. We had an interesting discussion – and in the end it always comes down to privacy and impact on society. I see this… Continue reading

Yesterday we discussed (again during the evening event of MobileHCI2009) how hard it would be to support the process of writing a high quality research paper and essays. In many conference there is a very defined style what you need to follow, specific things to include, and certain ways of how to present information. This obviously depends on the type of contribution but within one contribution type there could be probably provided a lot of help to create the skeleton of the paper… In many other areas Sounds like another project idea 😉 You ought to keep your essay presentation… 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

After my talk at the Minerva School Roy Weinberg pointed me to a paper by Chris Harrison and Scott Hudson [1] – it also uses audio for creating an interactive surface. The novelty on the technical side is limited but nevertheless the approach is interesting and appealing because of its simplicity and its potential (e.g. just think beyond a fingernail on a table to any contact movement on surfaces – pushing toy cars, walking, pushing a shopping trolley…). Perhaps having a closer look at this approach a generic location system could be created (e.g. using special shoe soles that make… Continue reading

If you do sports it typically requires another person to take the photos of you. Having the evening off in in Haifa Keith, Antonio and me went climbing at http://www.shafan-hasela.com/. It was not easy to get there – we used the typical way – first: take a bus to a random place (not intentially) – second: realize that the bus went to a place you did not want to go – third: take the taxi to where you wanted to go.

Being three people it was very easy to takes pictures while climbing – and I as I am… Continue reading

Florian Michahelles mentioned in his blog a talk [1] and paper [2] by Aaron Beach on mobile social networks that are linked to artefacts (e.g. clothing) in the real world. This is really interesting and I think we should look more into this…

[1] Aaron Beach. University of Colorado. Whozthat: Mobile Social Networks. Whoz touching me? Whoz Music? Whoz Watching? Who Cares?

[2] Beach, A.; Gartrell, M.; Akkala, S.; Elston, J.; Kelley, J.; Nishimoto, K.; Ray, B.; Razgulin, S.; Sundaresan, K.; Surendar, B.; Terada, M.; Han, R., “WhozThat? evolving an ecosystem for context-aware mobile social networks” Network, IEEE… Continue reading

In the afternoon I gave a talk at NEC labs in Heidelberg on ubiquitous display networks. Over the last year we developed and number of ideas and prototypes of interactive public display systems. We run a lab class (Fallstudien) on pervasive computing technologies and advertising together with colleagues from marketing. In another class (Projektseminar) we investigated how to facilitate interaction between interactive surfaces (e.g. multi touch table) and mobile devices. One of the prototypes will be shown as poster at mobile HCI 2009 in Bonn. In some thesis projects we introduced the notion of mobile… Continue reading

By the end of the month FET Open will launch the call for the proactive initiative on Human Computer Confluence. The term is new and hopefully it will really lead to new ideas. Today was already an information day on the upcoming proactive initiatives. I arrived the evening before and it is always a treat to talk a walk in the city.

The presentations were not really surprising and also the short intros by the participants remained very generic. Seeing the call that is now finalized and having been at the consultation meetings it seems to me that the… Continue reading

Andreas Riener from the University of Linz came to visit us for 3 days. In his research he works on multimodal and implicit interaction in the car. We talked about several new ideas for new user multimodal interfaces. Andreas had a preseure matt with him and we could try out what sensor readings we get in different setups. It seems that in particular providing redundancy in the controls could create interesting opportunities – hopefully we find means to explore this further.

Sunday night I travelled to Lugano for a meeting public display networks. I figured out that going there by night train is the best option – leaving midnight in Karlsruhe and arriving at 6am there. As I planned to sleep all the time my assumption was that the felt travel time would be zero. Made my plan without the rail company… the train was 2 hours late and I walked up and down for 2 hours in Karlsruhe at the track – and interestingly the problem would have been less annoying if public displays would provide the relevant information …… Continue reading

When shopping for a sofa I used an interesting tangible user interface – magnetic stickers. For each of the sofas systems the customer can create their own configuration using these magnetic stickers on a background (everything in a scale 1:50).

After the user is happy with the configuration the shop assistant makes a xerox copy (I said I do not need a black and white copy I make my own color copy with the phone) and calculates the price and writes up an order. The interaction with the pieces is very good and also great as a shared interface –… Continue reading

When preparing my talk for the BMW research colloquium I realized once more how much potential there is in the automotive domain (if you looks from am CS perspective). My talk was on the interaction of the driver with the car and the environment and I was assessing the potential of the car as a platform for interactive applications (slides in PDF). Thinking of the car as a mobile terminal that offers transportation is quite exciting…

I showed some of our recent project in the automotive domain:

There is a study that looked at how the performace in solving certain cognitive/creative tasks is influenced by the backgroun color [1]. In short: to make people alert and to increase performance on detail oriented tasks use red; to get people in creative mode use blue. Lucky us our corporate desktop background is mainly blue! Perhaps this could be interesting for ambient colors, e.g. in the automotive context…

[1] Mehta, Ravi and Rui (Juliet) Zhu (2009), “Blue or Red? Exploring the Effect of Color on Cognitive Task Performances” Science 27 February 2009:Vol. 323. no. 5918, pp. 1226 – 1229 DOI: 10.1126/science.1169144

At Nokia Research Center in Tampere I gave a talk with the title “Computing Beyond Ubicomp – Mobile Communication changed the world – what else do we need?“. My main argument is that the next big thing is a device that allows us to predict the future – on a system as well as on a personal level. This is obviously very tricking as we have a free will and hence the future is not completely predictable – but extrapolating from the technologies we see now it seems not farfetched to create a device that enables predictions of… Continue reading

This trip was my first time in Tampere (nice to see sometimes a new place). After arriving yesterday night I got a quick cultural refresher course. I even met a person who was giving today a presentation to the president of Kazakhstan (and someone made a copy using a phone – hope he got back OK to Helsinki after the great time in the bar).

In the morning I met a number of people in Jonna Hakkila’s group at the Nokia Research Center. The team has a great mix of backgrounds and it was really interesting to discuss the… Continue reading

Monday and Tuesday I organized together with Gernot A. Fink a PhD awayday for students in computer science of the Universities Bochum, Dortmund and Duisburg-Essen. With about 30 PhD students and some professors we went to Bommerholz, where the University of Dortmund has a small retreat.

The program included talks about career possibilities after the PhD including talks by:

We put together a poster discussing some of our recent work on mobile displays for HotMobile. While presenting the poster I got a number of interesting ideas and concerns. One idea is to widening the idea of advertsing and fuse it with traditional classify ads by private people (e.g. advertising a flat or telling the world that you lost your cat). The big question is really how to measure audince exposure and eventually conversion. There are several ideas how to do this – but looks more like another master project on the topic than a overnight hack 😉

The… Continue reading

After a stop-over in Stansted/Cambridge at the TEI conference I was today in Linz, Austria, as external for the PhD defense of Andreas Riener. He did his PhD with Alois Ferscha and worked on implicit interaction in the car. The set and size of experiments he did is impressive and he has two central results. (1) using tactile output in the car can really improve the car to driver communication and reduce reaction time. And (2) by sensing the force pattern a body creates on the seat driving relates activities can be detected and to some extend driver identification… Continue reading
Today we visited Christian Müller at DFKI in Saarbrücken. He organized a workshop on Automotive User Interfaces at IUI last week. My talk was on new directions for user interfaces and in particular arguing for a broad view on multimodality. We showed some of our recent projects on car user interfaces. Dagmar gave a short overview of CARS our simulator for evaluating driving performance and driver distractions and we discussed options for potential extensions and shortcomings of the Lane Change Task. Being a long time skeptic about voice interfaces I was surprise to see a convincing demo of a multimodal… Continue reading

Since last year we have in Germany a working group on graspable/tangible interaction in mixed realities. In German the key term we use is “begreifbar” or “begreifen” which has the meaning of acquire a deep understanding of something and the words basic meaning is to touch. Basically understand by touching – but in a more fundamental sense than grasping or getting grip. Hence the list of translations for “begreifen” given in the dictionary is quite long. Perhaps we should push more for the word in the international community – Towards interaction that is begreifbar (English has too few foreign… Continue reading

This morning I was coming back from Munich* on the train I got a phone call from a journalist from Radio Essen (http://www.102.2radioessen.de/). As their studio is very close to the railways station in Essen I went there spontaneously before going back to University. 

We talked a little about web services for students to rate their profs (e.g. meinProf.de). The numbers of ratings most professors have received so far is extremely small (in comparison to the number of students we teach) and hence you get interesting effects that are far from representative or in many cases even meaningful. Last term I registered my course and we sent proactively a mail to all students who complete the course with the request to rate the lectures. This seems to be a good way to generate a positive selection 🙂 There are many of these services out – rating teachers, doctors, shops, etc. Thinking a little more about the whole concept of rating others one could image many interesting services – all of them creating a clear benefit (for someone) and a massive reduced privacy for others.  To make it more specific I offer you one idea: Rate your fellow students’ professonal capabilities and academic performance. Students have typically a very good insight into the real qualities of their peers (e.g. technical skills, social compatibility, creativity, mental resilience, ability to cope with workload, diligence, honesty etc.). Having this information combined with the official degree (and the transcript the university offers) a potential employer would get a really interesting picture… We discussed this with students last term an the reactions were quite diverse – as one can image.> Obviously such a service would create a lot of criticism (which lowers the cost of marketing) and one would have to carefully think in which countries it would be legal to run it. An interesting question would… Continue reading

On Thursday morning I flew to Boston for the CHI 2009 PC meeting. The review and selection process was organized very professional and efficient. We discussed all papers in one and a half days – and I think an interesting program came out and I learned a lot about what values my colleagues see or see not in papers. On Friday afternoon I flew back to the UK for the Pervasive 2009 PC meeting in Cambridge (with the same crew on the plane).

Nevertheless the question remains how sustainable is it that 100 people fly to a face-2-face meeting. In… Continue reading

Looking into Paul Rayson’s blog and discovered an interesting link: http://www.genderanalyzer.com. It is a web form where you can put in an URL and you get an estimate whether the author of this text is male or female. For me it worked great 😉 It says that the text I wrote in my blog is with 88% written by a male. I tried it with a few more of my pages and it worked. Then I looked at some pages of some of my female colleagues and to my surprise it seems they do not write their web… Continue reading

I have learned about Chumby an interesting platform that is designed to replace devices on your bedside table. Looking forward to get one or some when I fly next time to the US.

For a design competion at the appliance design conference I did a design concept for a networked alarm clock [1] assuming that networked device will be soon cheaply available. Maybe we should look at the paper again and think about how to push such ideas forward as the devices are on the market…

[1] Schmidt, A. 2006. Network alarm clock (The 3AD International Design Competition). Personal Ubiquitous… Continue reading

Yesterday there was a workshop on Mobile and Embedded Interaction as part of Informatik2008 in Munich. The talks and discussions were very interesting. Lucia and Thomas raised interesting issues on a new notion of personal computing, where the mobile device becomes the center of a personal computing infrastructure. This idea has been around for some time (e.g. Roy Wants Personal Server [1]) but the new ideas and the feasibility with current hardware makes it really an exciting topic. On the general topic there are many open questions, as visible on the slide.

After the workshop, when swapping business cards, we… Continue reading