This afternoon we (over 40 people from VIS and VISUS at the University of Stuttgart) went to Karlsruhe to visit the ZKM. We got guided tours to the panorama laboratory, the historic video laboratory, to the SoundARt exhibition and some parts of the regular exhibition. Additionally Prof. Gunzenhäuser gave a short introduction to the Zuse Z22 that is in on show there, too.

 The ZKM is a leading center for digital and media art that includes a museum for media art and modern art, several research institutes, and an art and design school. The approach is to bring… Continue reading

For the second time we organize a doctoral seminar for PhD students in CS from Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg und Essen. The main purpose is to provide networking opportunities beyond the own subject area and to highlight to options for life after the PhD.

This year we had 4 invited speakers highlighting opportunities in academia, industry, and in SMEs:

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

From the 4th to the 8th of January we (Nigel Davies, Antonio Krüger, Marc Langheinrich, Martin Strohbach, and I) organized a Seminar on Pervasive Display Networks in Dagstuhl. The timining was less not perfect but we go a really good team together.

Working on the topic we identify an interesting set of dimensions to classify public display, collected a large set of scenarios, and compiled a bibliography as well as a reading list. As soon as the material is publicly available I will post it.

The first time I have been to Dagstuhl was in September 2001 (the seminar… Continue reading

December was filled with travel – twice to the US and several trips in Europe – and for the first time in two years I did not really get around to write my blog…

I am still wondering what technology we require that could make physical meetings less important. Video conference is getting better and I use it a lot – but it still does not facilitate a discussion between 30 or more people well. Besides the work that is in reviewing I really emjoy that part of my job – I find it really exciting to see so much… Continue reading

The 8th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM 2009) was held in Cambridge, UK. The conference is fairly specific and had an acceptance rate of about 33% – have a look at the table of content for an overview. Florian Michahelles presented our paper on a design space for ubiquitous product recommendation systems [1]. Our work contributes a comprehensive design space that outlines design options for product recommendation systems using mobile and ubiquitous technologies. We think that over the next years mobile recommendation systems have the potential to change the way we shop in the real world.… Continue reading

In the opening keynote of AMI 2009 Frits Grotenhuis (who stepped in for Emil Aarts) looked back at the last 10 years ambient intelligence. In his talk he showed a number of examples of devices that Philips created in this time, including iCat, the Entertaible, Ambilight, and medical devices. He discussed briefly the forces in such developments between market-pull and technology-push and it became evident that many products in this domain are more technology push than market-pull.

I liked the reference back to the Electronic Poem at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, which must have been at that… Continue reading

Over the last three years I have been regularly to Dublin to act as external examiner for the Ubicomp MSc course. For me this was a good experience to see how serious The School of Computing at Trinity College takes external quality control and how well processes are managed. And besides the administrative part I saw a great many interesting MSc dissertations over the years. Even though the term has come to an end I hope to travel to Dublin in the future too – perhaps on Holiday to see more of the city (which I did not really manage… Continue reading

On Friday afternoon I was at the summer party of the chair of ergonomics at the Technical University of Munich. Klaus Bengler, who took over the chair earlier this year and became professor, had in his talk 3 interesting points to take away:

  1. to assess more how much does bad ergonomics costs us (from health to missed sales)
  2. to quantify the value of ergonomics in real money in order to make it comparable with other factors in product design
  3. to include ergonomics as an integral part of the development process

From my Computer Science/HCI perspective I think (2) would be top of the list – as we have good approaches to (3) but need (2) to push it and as (1) is part of (2)… It would be great to have an argument based on economics. E.g. adding tactile feedback will costs x € and it will increase the value of the product by y € – if x>y do it – else don’t … still… Continue reading

Meeting with other researchers that run or have run Emmy Noether research groups is very different from normal conferences and meetings. The participants are across all disciplines – from art history to zoology 😉 The meeting focuses mainly on strategic, political, personal, administrative and organizational issues when starting a research career. This year we had child care organized during the meeting and Vivien came with me to Potsdam.

On Saturday night I learned that we (our galaxy) will eventually collide with the Andromeda Galaxy (but after our sun is out fuel – so I do not worry too much). Vivien… Continue reading

On the way back from the PC-dinner we needed to get an update on another aspect of Japanese technologies and so we went into SEGA World in Nara.

Many of the games are very similar to other toys around the world – shooter, sports games and racing games. Each time you use games in such a setting one is reminded of the power a physical controls and the concept of tangible interaction…

The photo maker however was very different from what I have seen before. Technically it is interesting and well engineered: you make photos in a well lit area,… Continue reading

Pervasive 2009 had a really exciting program and provided a good overview of current research in pervasive and ubiquitous computing. Have a look at the proceedings of the pervasive 2009 conference. The Noh theater in Nara was a very special and enjoyable venue and it was organized perfectly – as one would expect when travelling to Japan.

The idea of having short and long papers together in the main track worked very well in my view. The number of demos and posters was much higher than in the years before – and that was great and very inspiring. Have… Continue reading

We got a good set of submission for our workshop and had about 20 participants who joined us in Nara to discuss how pervasive computing will shape advertising in the future. The papers and a selection of talks is online on the workshop website: http://pervasiveadvertising.org

One question that was central to our discussion was: what is advertising and how is it different from information. It became quickly clear that there is a lot of information that has an influence on behavior and in particular shopping decisions and some of it is considered advertising but much is not. Hence it seems… Continue reading

To get cheaper flights we took a flight on Thursday/Friday to fly from Europe to Japan (never really understood the pricing model of flights). So we had two days off before the actual conference and many colleagues (who also took cheap flights) were also there. We went to do some sightseeing in Nara and Kyoto – which was great.

In Kyoto we got personal guides – students from a University in Kyoto – who offered to show us run and use this to practice their English. It was great for us as we got many insights we would have missed… Continue reading

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

I went to see Chris Kray at Culture Lab at Newcastle University. Over the next months we will be working on a joined project on a new approach to creating and building interactive appliances. I am looking forward to spending some more time in Newcastle.

Chris showed me around their lab and I was truly impressed. Besides many interesting prototypes in various domains I have not seen this number of different ideas and implementations of table top systems and user interface in another place. For picture of me in the lab trying out a special vehicle see Chris’ blog… Continue reading

Yesterday night I did an online check-in for my flight from Düsseldorf to Manchester. For convenience and curiosity I chose the mobile boarding pass. It is amazingly easy and it worked in principle very well. Only not everyone can work without paper yet. At some point in the process (after border control) I got a hand written “boarding pass” because this person needs to stamp it 😉 and we would probably have gotten into an argument if he tried to stamp my phone. There is some further room for improvement. The boarding pass shows besides the 2D barcode all the… 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

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

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
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
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

Arriving at the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport I saw some extra installations (and extra lines) for iris scan immigration. Arriving at 4 am in the morning they were closed and there were not queues – but I could see that it is very attractive at other times of day when queues are long. On the official website they claim that border control will be down to 20 seconds. There is a more detailed document on the schema – I saved the document to have it in 10 years when we will have a very different view on privacy.

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
In our user interface engineering class one of the tasks in the exercise is to create a concept design for providing information from the car on the mobile phone (e.g. millage, amount a fuel in the car, next service date, alram status, etc). The first part is to assess what information could be made accessible and what value it would create for the user.  Today I came across a device (Tyredog TD-1000A) that is concerned with a one sub-part of this scenario: checking your pressure in the tires of the car. It is a simple sensor… Continue reading

The PC meeting for Percom 2009 took place at IBM in Hawthorne, NY. Percom had about 200 submissions and many good ones – so we could compile an exciting program across the whole field of pervasive computing and communication. As one of three program vice chairs I have looked in detail in about 1/3 of the submissions that were application related. It is interesting to observe that research as a whole in the field becomes more major and at the same time more incremental. 

To me this puts up the big question in which domains will the new big… Continue reading

We arrived in the evening in Köln and went to our hotel and around 10:30 pm the fire alarm sounded (really loud – you want to leave) and a voice over the speaker system asked us to leave the hotel immediately. When we checked in an hour earlier we overheard that they called for the elevator repair man…

Better safe than sorry I packed up my laptop and rucksack and we went downstairs. At the reception they were pretty busy – but it seemed everyone clear that this a false alarm but it seemed they had no way of really… Continue reading

Visiting Dublin is always a pleasure – even if the weather is rainy. Most of the day I was at Trinity College reading master theses (which is the second best part of being external examiner, best part is to have lunch at the 1592 😉 In the evening I met with Aaron Quigley and we talked about some ongoing display and advertsing projects in our groups. He told me about one of their recent workshop papers [1] on public displays where they investigated what people take in and what people remember of the content on displays in an academic… 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