Nicolas visited us in Essen to give the opening talk of our German meeting on tangible interaction. In his talk he first showed some examples of the hardware and sensors group at Microsoft research in Cambridge, most notably the SenseCam (which we learned is licensed and will be soon commercially available).

In the main part of the talk Nicolas presented a modular embedded architecture that allows developers to create custom made digital systems with fairly little effort. By integrating physical development (3D printing), functional blocks and software development the approach aims at empowering developers to create entirely new devices. His… Continue reading

On Wednesday and Thursday Enrico visited our group in Essen. He gave a part of my lecture on user interface engineering talking about mobile interaction with the real world. He include interesting examples, such as QR-code/NFC/RFID use in Asia, SixthSense project (camera projection system to wear around the neck) and handheld mobile projections. Enrico also explained some of the multi-tag work he does at Lancaster University [1].

In the lecture we talked briefly about future devices and interfaces. I mentioned one example: projection in the large – on building scale. The 3D visualization overplayed on buildings seem impressive – at… Continue reading

Reto Wettach was in Essen so we took the opportunity to get together to flash out some ideas for a proposal – it is related to pain – in a positive sense. There is interesting and scary previous work, see [1] & [2]. For the proposal we still look for someone not from the UK and not from Germany – who has an expertise and interest in medical devices (sensors and actuators) and someone who has experience in pain and perception of pain (e.g. from the medical domain). Please let me know if you know someone who may fit the… Continue reading

Gilbert Beyer from Munich came to visit our lab. In Munich he is working on interesting projects that combine aspects of software engineering and human computer interaction in the group of Prof. Martin Wirsing. Gilbert participated in the pervasive computing in advertising workshop in Nara and we met there.

We discussed aspects of how to study and empirically evaluate larger and off-desktop interactive systems. Even though those systems differ significantly from desktop systems the book How to Design and Report Experiments by Andy Field and Graham J. Hole is still a good starting point.

Carting new territories is exciting… 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

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.

Enrico Rukzio (my first PhD from Munich, now lecturer in Lancaster) visited our Lab. He was make a small tour of Germany (Münster, Essen, Oldenburg). In the user interface engineering class Enrico showed some on his current work on mobile interaction, in particular mobile projectors and NFC tags. After the presentation we wondered how long it will take till kids on the train will play with mobile projections 😉

We showed Enrico a demo of eye-tracking for active customization of browser adverts. In our setup we use the Tobii X120. For tracking of people in the room we still have… Continue reading
Christian Kray and I were colleagues in Lancaster for a very short time – he just joined the university when I left for Munich. After his post-doc in Lancaster he moved to a position in Newcastle.

His work at the cross roads of mobile interaction and public displays is very exciting. In particular he investigates interesting concepts related to visual codes – some aspects to these ideas are discussed in “Swiss Army Knife meets Camera Phone” [1]. His new prototypes are really cool and I look forward to see/read more about them.

We realized that there are many… Continue reading

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

Wolfgang visited us for 3 days and we talked a lot about context-awareness in the automotive domain. Given the sensors included in the cars and some recent ideas on context-fusion it seems feasible that in the near future context-aware assistance and information systems will get new functionality. Since finishing my PhD dissertation [1] there has been a move towards two directions: context predication and communities as source for context. One example of a community based approach is http://www.iyouit.eu which evolved out of ContextWatcher /IST-Mobilife.

In his lecture he showed many examples how pervasive computing happens in the car… Continue reading
Florian Michahelles, associate director of the AutoID-Labs in Zürich visited our group and gave a presentation in my course on Pervaisve Computing. He introduced the vision of using RFID in businesses, gave a brief technology overview and discussed the potential impact – in a very interactive session. Florian and I worked together in the Smart-its project and during his PhD studies he and Stavros were well know as the experts on Ikea PAX [1], [2]. In 2006 and 2007 we ran workshops on RFID technologies and published the results and a discussion on emerging trends in RFID together [3],… Continue reading

Sven Behnke, who won with his humanoid robots the RoboCup, visited us today at Fraunhofer IAIS. In his talk he presented the RoboCup vision – wining in 2050 with humanoid robots against the human world champions and his work towards this goal. There are interesting videos of the robots at http://www.nimbro.net

When I saw Sven presenting the first time (in 2003 at the DFG final round for the “Aktionsplan Informatik”) I was convinced that humanoid robots are far in the future and that the robocup vision is more wishful thinking than vision. Seeing how much it advanced over the… Continue reading

Making things visible that can not be seen with the naked eye? Overlaying personalized information onto objects or images? Such concepts make good fiction but are there interesting use cases? Michael Rohs from T-Labs in Berlin visited B-IT and Fraunhofer IAIS today and he showed us in his talk and demos several such scenarios that appear not to be far in the future or fictional anymore.

Michael has developed during his PhD at ETH Zürich the Visual Codes system (http://people.inf.ethz.ch/rohs/visualcodes/) that provides a basis for augmented reality interaction on mobile phones. Some of his current work, in particular… Continue reading

Steffi Beckhaus, who is professor for computer science at the University of Hamburg, visited our group at B-IT. Meeting her was another classical example how small the scientific community in user interface research is. I met Tanja Döring, one of Steffi’s students, at TEI’07 in Baton Rouge. They had a very interesting paper on novel user interfaces for art historians – “The Card Box at Hand: Exploring the Potentials of a Paper-Based Tangible Interface for Education and Research in Art History”. Looking then up Steffi Beckhaus details I saw that she was at Fraunhofer IMK (which is… Continue reading

How many sensors do we need? That was one point in the discussion after Kristof’s talk. His approach, in contrast to many others, is to use a large number of sensors for activity recognition. This offers more freedom with regard to placement of sensors, variations of sensors, and also provides redundancy but makes the overall system more complex. His argument is that in the long term (when sensors will be an integral part of garments) the multi-sensor approach is superior – let’s wait some 10 years and then discuss it again 😉

From a scientific perspective and in particular for… Continue reading

Thomas Doppelberger and Andreas Aepfelbacher from Fraunhofer Venture Group (http://www.venturecommunity.de/) came to our lab course to teach us how to get from a technical idea to a successful business. They talked us through the essentials of a business plan, discussed common mistakes and gave us an insight how companies are evaluated and furthermore encouraged our “entrepreneurial thinking”.

After such a day and the interesting discussions with them and the students one wonders why we are not trying more often to look into the option of starting a company. Obviously not every start-up is the next youtube or second… Continue reading

Jonna Häkkilä, a principle scientist from Nokia Research Center in Helsinki/Oulu, is visiting us for two days. As you can see on the pictures she enjoyed arguing with our students. She also gave a talk on her recent work. We talked a lot about the format of the course and the results are really interesting. I think getting 10 students for 4 weeks into one room (every day from 9-5) makes a lot of sense – it is amazing how quick students learn is such a setting.

Jonna was a co-author of a paper on tactile output at TEI’07 (“Tap… Continue reading