>Teaching Ubicomp? What is it we should teach?

>Why should we teach Ubicomp? What are the core issues when teaching Ubicomp? How do we cope with the rapid changes in technologies if we provide practical exercises in our Pervasive Computing classes? What skills will students take away from the course?

As Ubicomp is still a young and dynamic subject it is inevitable that we have to ask these questions. To share our experiences in teaching we met at the ETH Zürich. Friedemann Mattern, Marc Langheinrich, Michael Rohs, Kay Römer, and many of our PhD students (and me ;-) spent two days in Zürich to collect materials and discuss the above questions. The hardest one is obviously the what is ubicomp question…

For me the key thing is that we teach about distributed computing systems that are aware and linked to the real world and which are used by humans. The systems aspect is key and I think which specific technologies, tools, methods, we teach are exchangeable. The second point I want to make in my pervasive computing class is to get students excited and aware of the potential of computing in the future and how we are at the heart of a major change that goes beyond technology.

We are currently compiling a Wiki with teaching materials which we hope will become public in the future (at least in parts). If you teach a ubicomp related course or if you know of course please feel free to add a comment with link to the webpage and we will try to include it in the collection.

PS: examples of the UI challenge of ubicomp are everywhere.

Teaching Ubicomp? What is it we should teach?

Why should we teach Ubicomp? What are the core issues when teaching Ubicomp? How do we cope with the rapid changes in technologies if we provide practical exercises in our Pervasive Computing classes? What skills will students take away from the course?

As Ubicomp is still a young and dynamic subject it is inevitable that we have to ask these questions. To share our experiences in teaching we met at the ETH Zürich. Friedemann Mattern, Marc Langheinrich, Michael Rohs, Kay Römer, and many of our PhD students (and me ;-) spent two days in Zürich to collect materials and discuss the above questions. The hardest one is obviously the what is ubicomp question…

For me the key thing is that we teach about distributed computing systems that are aware and linked to the real world and which are used by humans. The systems aspect is key and I think which specific technologies, tools, methods, we teach are exchangeable. The second point I want to make in my pervasive computing class is to get students excited and aware of the potential of computing in the future and how we are at the heart of a major change that goes beyond technology.

We are currently compiling a Wiki with teaching materials which we hope will become public in the future (at least in parts). If you teach a ubicomp related course or if you know of course please feel free to add a comment with link to the webpage and we will try to include it in the collection.

PS: examples of the UI challenge of ubicomp are everywhere.

Teaching Ubicomp? What is it we should teach?

Why should we teach Ubicomp? What are the core issues when teaching Ubicomp? How do we cope with the rapid changes in technologies if we provide practical exercises in our Pervasive Computing classes? What skills will students take away from the course?

As Ubicomp is still a young and dynamic subject it is inevitable that we have to ask these questions. To share our experiences in teaching we met at the ETH Zürich. Friedemann Mattern, Marc Langheinrich, Michael Rohs, Kay Römer, and many of our PhD students (and me ;-) spent two days in Zürich to collect materials and discuss the above questions. The hardest one is obviously the what is ubicomp question…

For me the key thing is that we teach about distributed computing systems that are aware and linked to the real world and which are used by humans. The systems aspect is key and I think which specific technologies, tools, methods, we teach are exchangeable. The second point I want to make in my pervasive computing class is to get students excited and aware of the potential of computing in the future and how we are at the heart of a major change that goes beyond technology.

We are currently compiling a Wiki with teaching materials which we hope will become public in the future (at least in parts). If you teach a ubicomp related course or if you know of course please feel free to add a comment with link to the webpage and we will try to include it in the collection.

PS: examples of the UI challenge of ubicomp are everywhere.

>Linking the activities in the physical world to actions in the digital/virtual

>Currently we have an assignment in our Pervasive Computing class that asks students to design and develop a system where actions are associated with artifacts. Technically students should develop a web based solution using RFID. Apropos RFID, … if you look for a good introduction on RFID read Roy Want’s IEEE Pervasive Magazin paper [1].

We use the hardware from http://nabaztag.com/ (Ztamp:s and Mir:ror) as the focus is on the concept and application and not on the underlying technology. To ease development Florian and Ali have developed a little system that offers WebCallBacks (students can register a URL and that is called when a tag is read).

Linking by tagging of objects has been well explored, e.g. [2] and [3], and I think it is about time that this technologies will make an impact in the consumer market – the technology gets cheap enough now (and perhaps one of our students has a great idea).

Some years back (in the last millennium) a company tried to push linking of paper adverts and digital content with the CueCat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat) – I was impressed and inspired at that time but in my view it had two major weaknesses: (1) technically too early and (2) encoding of serial numbers instead of URLs. The RadioShack catalog and the Wired Magazine that included codes showed the potential – but it was too cumbersome as it was restricted to the PC …

We did some work on the topic, too around that time – at RFID reader integrated in a glove – which resulted in a Poster at ISWC [4] and a patent [5].

[1] Want, R. 2006. An Introduction to RFID Technology. IEEE Pervasive Computing 5, 1 (Jan. 2006), 25. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MPRV.2006.2

[2] Harrison, B. L., Fishkin, K. P., Gujar, A., Portnov, D., and Want, R. 1999. Bridging physical and virtual worlds with tagged documents, objects and locations. In CHI ’99 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 15 – 20, 1999). CHI ’99. ACM, New York, NY, 29-30. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/632716.632738

[3] Ljungstrand, P. and Holmquist, L. E. 1999. WebStickers: using physical objects as WWW bookmarks. In CHI ’99 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 15 – 20, 1999). CHI ’99. ACM, New York, NY, 332-333. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/632716.632916

[4] Schmidt, A., Gellersen, H., and Merz, C. 2000. Enabling Implicit Human Computer Interaction: A Wearable RFID-Tag Reader. In Proceedings of the 4th IEEE international Symposium on Wearable Computers (October 18 – 21, 2000). ISWC. IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, 193. (Poster as large PNG)

[5] US Patent 6614351 – Computerized system for automatically monitoring processing of objects. September 2, 2003. http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6614351/description.html

Linking the activities in the physical world to actions in the digital/virtual

Currently we have an assignment in our Pervasive Computing class that asks students to design and develop a system where actions are associated with artifacts. Technically students should develop a web based solution using RFID. Apropos RFID, … if you look for a good introduction on RFID read Roy Want’s IEEE Pervasive Magazin paper [1].

We use the hardware from http://nabaztag.com/ (Ztamp:s and Mir:ror) as the focus is on the concept and application and not on the underlying technology. To ease development Florian and Ali have developed a little system that offers WebCallBacks (students can register a URL and that is called when a tag is read).

Linking by tagging of objects has been well explored, e.g. [2] and [3], and I think it is about time that this technologies will make an impact in the consumer market – the technology gets cheap enough now (and perhaps one of our students has a great idea).

Some years back (in the last millennium) a company tried to push linking of paper adverts and digital content with the CueCat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat) – I was impressed and inspired at that time but in my view it had two major weaknesses: (1) technically too early and (2) encoding of serial numbers instead of URLs. The RadioShack catalog and the Wired Magazine that included codes showed the potential – but it was too cumbersome as it was restricted to the PC …

We did some work on the topic, too around that time – at RFID reader integrated in a glove – which resulted in a Poster at ISWC [4] and a patent [5].

[1] Want, R. 2006. An Introduction to RFID Technology. IEEE Pervasive Computing 5, 1 (Jan. 2006), 25. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MPRV.2006.2

[2] Harrison, B. L., Fishkin, K. P., Gujar, A., Portnov, D., and Want, R. 1999. Bridging physical and virtual worlds with tagged documents, objects and locations. In CHI ’99 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 15 – 20, 1999). CHI ’99. ACM, New York, NY, 29-30. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/632716.632738

[3] Ljungstrand, P. and Holmquist, L. E. 1999. WebStickers: using physical objects as WWW bookmarks. In CHI ’99 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 15 – 20, 1999). CHI ’99. ACM, New York, NY, 332-333. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/632716.632916

[4] Schmidt, A., Gellersen, H., and Merz, C. 2000. Enabling Implicit Human Computer Interaction: A Wearable RFID-Tag Reader. In Proceedings of the 4th IEEE international Symposium on Wearable Computers (October 18 – 21, 2000). ISWC. IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, 193. (Poster as large PNG)

[5] US Patent 6614351 – Computerized system for automatically monitoring processing of objects. September 2, 2003. http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6614351/description.html

Linking the activities in the physical world to actions in the digital/virtual

Currently we have an assignment in our Pervasive Computing class that asks students to design and develop a system where actions are associated with artifacts. Technically students should develop a web based solution using RFID. Apropos RFID, … if you look for a good introduction on RFID read Roy Want’s IEEE Pervasive Magazin paper [1].

We use the hardware from http://nabaztag.com/ (Ztamp:s and Mir:ror) as the focus is on the concept and application and not on the underlying technology. To ease development Florian and Ali have developed a little system that offers WebCallBacks (students can register a URL and that is called when a tag is read).

Linking by tagging of objects has been well explored, e.g. [2] and [3], and I think it is about time that this technologies will make an impact in the consumer market – the technology gets cheap enough now (and perhaps one of our students has a great idea).

Some years back (in the last millennium) a company tried to push linking of paper adverts and digital content with the CueCat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat) – I was impressed and inspired at that time but in my view it had two major weaknesses: (1) technically too early and (2) encoding of serial numbers instead of URLs. The RadioShack catalog and the Wired Magazine that included codes showed the potential – but it was too cumbersome as it was restricted to the PC …

We did some work on the topic, too around that time – at RFID reader integrated in a glove – which resulted in a Poster at ISWC [4] and a patent [5].

[1] Want, R. 2006. An Introduction to RFID Technology. IEEE Pervasive Computing 5, 1 (Jan. 2006), 25. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MPRV.2006.2

[2] Harrison, B. L., Fishkin, K. P., Gujar, A., Portnov, D., and Want, R. 1999. Bridging physical and virtual worlds with tagged documents, objects and locations. In CHI ’99 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 15 – 20, 1999). CHI ’99. ACM, New York, NY, 29-30. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/632716.632738

[3] Ljungstrand, P. and Holmquist, L. E. 1999. WebStickers: using physical objects as WWW bookmarks. In CHI ’99 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 15 – 20, 1999). CHI ’99. ACM, New York, NY, 332-333. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/632716.632916

[4] Schmidt, A., Gellersen, H., and Merz, C. 2000. Enabling Implicit Human Computer Interaction: A Wearable RFID-Tag Reader. In Proceedings of the 4th IEEE international Symposium on Wearable Computers (October 18 – 21, 2000). ISWC. IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, 193. (Poster as large PNG)

[5] US Patent 6614351 – Computerized system for automatically monitoring processing of objects. September 2, 2003. http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6614351/description.html

Some Interesting Papers and random Photos from Pervasive 2009

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 a look at the photos for some of the posters and demos.
The program consisted of 20 full papers (18 pages) and 7 notes (8 pages) which were selected in a peer review process out of 147 submissions (113 full papers, 34 notes) which is a acceptance rate of 18%.

John Krumm presented his paper Realistic driving tips for location privacy – again having a good idea making the presentation interesting beyond its content (having review snippets in the footer of the slides – including a fake review). The paper explores the difficulties that arise when creating fake GPS tracks. He motivated that the probabilities need to be taken into account (e.g. you are usually on a road). I liked the approach and the paper is worthwhile to read. I think it could be interesting to compare the approach is not create the tracks but just share them between users (e.g. other people can use parts of my track as fake track and in return I get some tracks that I can use as fake tracks). http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_4

If you phone knows where you are you can use this information to control your heating system. This was the basic idea of the research presented by Stephen Intille. They explored using GPS location of the users to automate control of the heating / air condition control in a house. It seems there is quite some potential for saving energy with technology typically used in the US (one temperature control for the whole house). In Europe where heating systems typically offer finer control (e.g. room level) the potential is probably larger.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_8

James Scott presented a paper that showed how you can use force gestures to interact with a device. In contrast to previous research (e.g. GUMMI) the approach works with a ridged device and could be used with current screen technologies.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_10

What do you need to figure out who is holding and using the remote control? This question is addressed in the paper “Inferring Identity Using Accelerometers in Television Remote Controls” that was presented by Jeff Hightower. They looked at how well button press sequences and accelerometer data give you information about which person is using the device.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_11

Geo-fencing: confining Wi-Fi Coverage to Physical Boundaries is an example of how to create technological solutions to fit a user’s conceptual model of the world. As people have experience with the physical world and they have mechanisms to negotiate and use space and hence linking technologies that have typically other characteristics (e.g. wireless radio coverage) to the known concept is really interesting.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_19

Situvis, a tool for visualizing sensor data, was presented by Adrian Clear from Aaron’s group in Dublin. The software, papers and a video is available at: http://situvis.com/. The basic idea is to have a parallel coordinate visualization of the different sensor information and to provide interaction mechanisms with the data.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_22

Nathan Eagle presented the paper “Methodologies for continuous cellular tower data analysis”. He talked about the opportunities that arise when we have massive amounts of information from users – e.g. tracks from 200 million mobile phone user. It really is interesting that based on such methods we may get completely new insights into human behavior and social processes.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_23

If you have seen a further interesting paper in the conference (and there are surely some) that I have missed feel free to give a link to them in the comments to this post.

Some Interesting Papers and random Photos from Pervasive 2009

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 a look at the photos for some of the posters and demos.
The program consisted of 20 full papers (18 pages) and 7 notes (8 pages) which were selected in a peer review process out of 147 submissions (113 full papers, 34 notes) which is a acceptance rate of 18%.

John Krumm presented his paper Realistic driving tips for location privacy – again having a good idea making the presentation interesting beyond its content (having review snippets in the footer of the slides – including a fake review). The paper explores the difficulties that arise when creating fake GPS tracks. He motivated that the probabilities need to be taken into account (e.g. you are usually on a road). I liked the approach and the paper is worthwhile to read. I think it could be interesting to compare the approach is not create the tracks but just share them between users (e.g. other people can use parts of my track as fake track and in return I get some tracks that I can use as fake tracks). http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_4

If you phone knows where you are you can use this information to control your heating system. This was the basic idea of the research presented by Stephen Intille. They explored using GPS location of the users to automate control of the heating / air condition control in a house. It seems there is quite some potential for saving energy with technology typically used in the US (one temperature control for the whole house). In Europe where heating systems typically offer finer control (e.g. room level) the potential is probably larger.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_8

James Scott presented a paper that showed how you can use force gestures to interact with a device. In contrast to previous research (e.g. GUMMI) the approach works with a ridged device and could be used with current screen technologies.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_10

What do you need to figure out who is holding and using the remote control? This question is addressed in the paper “Inferring Identity Using Accelerometers in Television Remote Controls” that was presented by Jeff Hightower. They looked at how well button press sequences and accelerometer data give you information about which person is using the device.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_11

Geo-fencing: confining Wi-Fi Coverage to Physical Boundaries is an example of how to create technological solutions to fit a user’s conceptual model of the world. As people have experience with the physical world and they have mechanisms to negotiate and use space and hence linking technologies that have typically other characteristics (e.g. wireless radio coverage) to the known concept is really interesting.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_19

Situvis, a tool for visualizing sensor data, was presented by Adrian Clear from Aaron’s group in Dublin. The software, papers and a video is available at: http://situvis.com/. The basic idea is to have a parallel coordinate visualization of the different sensor information and to provide interaction mechanisms with the data.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_22

Nathan Eagle presented the paper “Methodologies for continuous cellular tower data analysis”. He talked about the opportunities that arise when we have massive amounts of information from users – e.g. tracks from 200 million mobile phone user. It really is interesting that based on such methods we may get completely new insights into human behavior and social processes.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_23

If you have seen a further interesting paper in the conference (and there are surely some) that I have missed feel free to give a link to them in the comments to this post.

>Some Interesting Papers and random Photos from Pervasive 2009

>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 a look at the photos for some of the posters and demos.
The program consisted of 20 full papers (18 pages) and 7 notes (8 pages) which were selected in a peer review process out of 147 submissions (113 full papers, 34 notes) which is a acceptance rate of 18%.

John Krumm presented his paper Realistic driving tips for location privacy – again having a good idea making the presentation interesting beyond its content (having review snippets in the footer of the slides – including a fake review). The paper explores the difficulties that arise when creating fake GPS tracks. He motivated that the probabilities need to be taken into account (e.g. you are usually on a road). I liked the approach and the paper is worthwhile to read. I think it could be interesting to compare the approach is not create the tracks but just share them between users (e.g. other people can use parts of my track as fake track and in return I get some tracks that I can use as fake tracks). http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_4

If you phone knows where you are you can use this information to control your heating system. This was the basic idea of the research presented by Stephen Intille. They explored using GPS location of the users to automate control of the heating / air condition control in a house. It seems there is quite some potential for saving energy with technology typically used in the US (one temperature control for the whole house). In Europe where heating systems typically offer finer control (e.g. room level) the potential is probably larger.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_8

James Scott presented a paper that showed how you can use force gestures to interact with a device. In contrast to previous research (e.g. GUMMI) the approach works with a ridged device and could be used with current screen technologies.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_10

What do you need to figure out who is holding and using the remote control? This question is addressed in the paper “Inferring Identity Using Accelerometers in Television Remote Controls” that was presented by Jeff Hightower. They looked at how well button press sequences and accelerometer data give you information about which person is using the device.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_11

Geo-fencing: confining Wi-Fi Coverage to Physical Boundaries is an example of how to create technological solutions to fit a user’s conceptual model of the world. As people have experience with the physical world and they have mechanisms to negotiate and use space and hence linking technologies that have typically other characteristics (e.g. wireless radio coverage) to the known concept is really interesting.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_19

Situvis, a tool for visualizing sensor data, was presented by Adrian Clear from Aaron’s group in Dublin. The software, papers and a video is available at: http://situvis.com/. The basic idea is to have a parallel coordinate visualization of the different sensor information and to provide interaction mechanisms with the data.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_22

Nathan Eagle presented the paper “Methodologies for continuous cellular tower data analysis”. He talked about the opportunities that arise when we have massive amounts of information from users – e.g. tracks from 200 million mobile phone user. It really is interesting that based on such methods we may get completely new insights into human behavior and social processes.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_23

If you have seen a further interesting paper in the conference (and there are surely some) that I have missed feel free to give a link to them in the comments to this post.

CfP Workshop on Pervasive Advertising

We organize at this year’s Pervasive computing conference in Nara, Japan a workshop on Pervasive Advertising – http://pervasiveadvertising.org
We expect that there is a lot of interesting research going on in the area and it is clearly a controversial topic. Being an optimist – I see the new options that arise. In particular a future with less annoying advertisements is one hope :-)
But many people are focusing on the risks that arise – an interesting positing with some criticism of our workshop objective can be found at the near future laboratory  I do not share their views :-)
To me the idea that if you do not research it, it does not happen seems not a very viable option. I still think with research we can shape the future!
I am already looking forward to the submission and to the workshop. You have a contribution? Deadline is Feb, 11 2008.