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

Friday and Saturday we hosted the GI working groups on tangible interaction (GI Arbeitskreis Be-greifbare Interaction in gemischten Wirklichkeiten) for the second inventor’s workshop. We were positively surprised that more than 30 people took part. We started with a set of nice demos from our students and then Nicolas Villar presented an invited talk.

The concept of the workshop was to create ideas by looking more closely at different materials that may be used for interaction and by assessing novel interaction technologies. On Friday afternoon we had several tables with material (e.g. smart materials, conductive fabric, magnetic materials,… Continue reading

Together with Antonio’s group we looked at new forms of interaction beyond the desktop. The journal paper Tangible, Embedded, and Reality-Based Interaction [1] gives overview and examples of recent trends in human computer interaction and is a good starting point to learn about these topics.

Abstract: Tangible, embedded, and reality-based interaction are among novel concepts of interaction design that will change our usage of computers and be part of our daily life in coming years. In this article, we present an overview of the research area of tangible, embedded, and reality-based interaction as an area of media informatics. Potentials and… Continue reading

We are in Newcastle for a Workshop working on a new idea for tangible UIs that can be easily customized. The basic idea is to senparate functional parts of the system (electronics etc.) from the shell/tangible components of a devices. By this we hope to support innovation in a sustainable way. The skin of the appliance is printed (in 3D).

Nic Villar came up from Cambridge and he showed us some interesting materials… and obviously there is a shop (materials.http://www.mutr.co.uk/) to get those… Look in the section for smart materials – there are probably many ideas hidden for… Continue reading

Next week is the early registration deadline for the 1st International Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications (AutomotiveUI 2009) and the poster call is still open.

This year the deadline for submitting papers to TEI 2010 is much earlier than in previous years! It is the 10th of August (and was already extended)…

“Sounds like a fun project” was my first reaction when I read some time back the first paper on Steve‘s work on augmented toys and augmented games. Reading through his thesis and seeing more of his papers it seems there was a lot of hard work, too.

Thinking more about it I was wondering how toys are really going to change in the future and to what extent this is going to happen. Technically a lot is feasible as it is well demonstrated by Steve in his thesis (photo from www.vs.inf.ethz.ch); if you do not have time to… Continue reading

On his way from Eindhoven to Zurich Morten Fjeld was visiting our group. It was great to catch up and talk about a number of exciting research projects and ideas. Some years ago one of my students from Munich did his final project with Morten working on haptic communication ideas, see [1]. Last year at TEI Morten had a paper on a related project – also using actuated sliders, see [2].

In his presentation Morten gave an overview of the research he does and we found a joint interest in capacitive sensing. Raphael Wimmer did his final project in Munich… 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

Together Eva Eva Hornecker and Brygg Ullmer I was guest editor for a special issue of the International Journal of Arts and Technology (IJART) on the topic of Tangible and Embedded Interaction. The issue contains 6 papers that look at very different aspects of this topic.

Have a look at the editorial (it is openly accessible) for an overview of the papers in the issue.

What is a simple and cheap way to get from Saarbrücken to Linz? It’s not really obvious, but going via Stansted/Cambridge makes sense – especially when there is the conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction (www.tei-conf.org) and Raynair offers 10€ flight (not sure about sustainability though). Sustainability, from a different perspective was also at the center of the Monday Keynote by Tom Igeo which I missed.

Nicolas and Sharam did a great job and the choice to do a full day of demos worked out great. The large set of interactive demos presented captures and communicates a lot… Continue reading

During the workshop last week in Potsdam we got to see demos from students of Design of Physical and Virtual Interfaces class taught by Reto Wettach and JennyLC Chowdhury. The students had to design a working prototype of an interactive system. As base technology most of them use the Arduino Board with some custom made extensions. For a set of pictures see my photo gallery and the photos on flickr. It would need pages to describe all of the projects so I picked few…

The project “Navel” (by Juan Avellanosa, Florian Schulz and Michael Härtel) is a belt… 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

Following the workshop I got a few questions on what the important papers are that one should read to start on the topic. There are many (e.g. search in google schoolar for tangible interaction, physical interaction, etc and you will see) and there conference dedicated to it (e.g. the tangible and embedded interaction TEI – next week in cambridge).

But if I have to pick two here is my joice:

[1] Ishii, H. 2008. Tangible bits: beyond pixels. In Proceedings of the 2nd international Conference on Tangible and Embedded interaction (Bonn, Germany, February 18 – 20, 2008). TEI ’08.… Continue reading

Looking at interesting and novel interaction devices that would be challenging for students to classify (e.g. in the table suggested by Card et al 1991 [1]) I can across some pretty unusual device. Probably not really useful for an exam but perhaps next year for discussion in class…

Ever wanted to rearrange the keys on your keyboard? ErgoDex DX1 is a set of 25 keys that can be arranged on a surface to create a specific input device. It would be cool if the device could also sense which key is where – would make re-arranging part of the… Continue reading

The February 2009 edition of technology review (German version) has its focus on new user interfaces and titles “Streicheln erwünscht” (translates to stroking/caressing/fondling welcome). It has a set of articles talking about new way of interacting multimodality, including tangible user interfaces and tactile communication. In the article “Feel me, touch me” by Gordon Bolduan on page 74 a photo of Dagmar’s prototype of tactile steering wheel is depicted. The full paper on the study will be published at Pervasive in May 2009 (so you have to be patient to get the details – or come and visit our lab… 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

The current issue of the ct-Magazine (one of the largest computing magazines in Germany) features an introductory article on tangible user interfaces (in German).

The article is based on three interviews (Eva Hornecker, Reto Wettach, Albrecht Schmidt) and provides a good overview on this topic for a general audience. The article is in c’t no 21, 2007, p86-88 (no online version yet).

Nicolas, who was the first BSc student I worked with in Lancaster, is now after finishing his PhD with Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK. He came on Friday to Essen to see the lab and he brought us a Voodoo I/O box [1] – we are really excited!

He stayed for the weekend and I learned a lot about interesting technologies and ideas. Looking at his iREX ebook and Vivien’s new USB Microscope (30€ from Aldi 😉 we had to do some research into the screen quality of different devices. It is interesting to see that e-Ink moves closer… Continue reading

Recently I came across a device that tracks the GPS position and has additionally a card reader (http://photofinder.atpinc.com/). If you plug in a card with photos it will integrate location data into the jpgs using time as common reference.

It is a further interesting example where software moves away from the generic computer/PC (where such programs that use a GPS track an combine it with photos are available, e.g. GPS photo linker) into a appliance and hence the usage complexity (on principle, did not try it out so far this specific device so far) can be massively… Continue reading

Today Tanja Döring started with our group in Essen. She did her MSc at the University of Hamburg with Steffi Beckhaus and Horst Oberquelle. I met her first last year at TEI’07 in Baton Rouge, where she presented work on a table for art historians [1]. This year Tanja was a student volunteer at TEI’08 in Bonn.

[1] Döring, T. and Beckhaus, S. 2007. The card box at hand: exploring the potentials of a paper-based tangible interface for education and research in art history. In Proceedings of the 1st international Conference on Tangible and Embedded interaction (Baton Rouge,… Continue reading

The proceedings of the 2nd international conference on Tangible and embedded interaction are online in the ACM digital library. Still not in the search index and with a few corrections to do…

Hiroshi Ishii contributed a paper on “Tangible bits: beyond pixels” – the first paper in the proceedings [1] and a great overview and introduction to the topic. If you are a student to start on tangible interaction or if you have students that start this paper is a mandatory reading!

[1] Ishii, H. 2008. Tangible bits: beyond pixels. In Proceedings of the 2nd international Conference on… Continue reading

The first day of the conference went well – thanks to many helping hands. The time we had for the demos seemed really long in the program but was too short to engage with every exhibit (for next year we should make sure to allocate even more time).

People made really last minutes efforts to make their demos work. We even went to Conrad electronics to get some pieces (which burned before in setting up the demos). Demos are in my eyes an extremely efficient means for communicating between scientists and sharing ideas.

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.

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

We have two press releases to announce TEI’08 – the second international conference on tangible and embedded interaction (in German only).

The first one is a general announcement with the invitation to the press conference: Internationale Konferenz zu neuen Möglichkeiten der Mensch-Maschine-Interaktion

The second one is explaining – in non-scientific terms – the idea of tangible and embedded interaction: Der Wetterfrosch im Regenschirm

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

Gabi Kotsis produced at dinner one of the rarest bottles of wine – an original Pervasive 2004 wine (Alois Ferscha had it made extra for the conference and he designed the label, too) – and she opened it!

The wine is great. It brought back some memories of a very intersting doctoral colloquium in Linz and a splendid conference in the Vienna Hofburg with an excellent scientific program. Somehow I remember that after one evening (and some conference wine) I agreed to run Pervasive 2005 in Munich…

As we have quite a good number of registrations for TEI’08 in… Continue reading

Today Lucia Terrenghi completed her PhD at the University of Munich. The topic of her dissertation is “Designing Hybrid Interactions through an Understanding of the Affordances of Physical and Digital Technologies”. She presented interesting insights from prototyping new interaction tools the combine the digital and the physical.

One finding in a case study was that it seems really hard to get people into using both hands for interaction (bi-manual interaction) when digital objects are involved, even though there are physical/tangible artefacts to manipulate. I made a similar observation when recently working with small children who were writing the first time… Continue reading

The online registration for the 2nd international conference tangible and embedded interaction is now open. The early registration deadline is January 8th 2008. There is also the list of accepted papers and travel page online.

We have a really cool cover – it is not final, but I could not resist to give a preview (see above). Bart Hengeveld did a really good job! I am looking forward to holding the proceedings in my hand.