>TEI Studio, making devices with Microsoft Gadgeteer

>Nic Villar and James Scott from Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, run a Studio on building interactive devices at TEI 2011 in Madeira. Studio’s are mixture of tutorials and hands-on workshops and there were very interesting ones at this year’s conference – it was very hard to choose.

Microsoft Gadgeteer is a modular platform for creating devices. It includes a main board, displays, a camera, sensors, interaction elements, motors and servos, memory board, and USB-connectors as well as power supply options. It is programmable in C# using Visual Studio. The development involves the connecting up of the hardware and the writing of the software. A “hello world” example is a simple digital camera. You connect up the main board with the camera, a display, and a button. Writing less than 20 lines of code you implement the functionality of the camera. It follows an asynchronous approach. When the buttons is pressed the camera is instructed to take a picture. An event handle is registered that is called when the camera is ready capturing the image. And in the code in the handler you take the image and show it on the display. 10 years back we worked on a European project Smart-Its [1] and started with basic electronic building blocks and the idea of open source hardware where people could create their devices. Looking now at a platform like Gadgeteer one can see that there has been great progress in Ubicomp research over that time. It is great to see how Nic Villar has been pursuing this idea from the time he did his BSc thesis with Smart-Its in our lab in Lancaster, with Pin-and-Play/Voodoo I/O [2] in his PhD work, to the platform he is currently working on and the vision beyond [3].

It was amazing how quickly all groups got this examples working. For me, with programming experience – but no real experience in C# and with little practice in programming over the last few years – it was surprising how quickly I got into programming again. To me this was mainly due to the integration with visual studio – especially the suggestions made by the IDE were very helpful. James said the design rational for the Visual Studio integration was “you should never see just a blinking cursor” – and I think this was well executed.

All groups made over the day a design. I liked the “robot-face” that showed minimal emotions… basically if you come to close you can see it getting unhappy. My mini-project was a camera that use an ultrasonic range sensor and a larger display. It takes photos when someone comes close and shows the last 8 photos on the display – overwriting the first one when it comes to the end of the screen. Interested in how little code is required to do this? Check out the source code I wrote.

Two more studios I would have loved to attend: Amanda run a Studio on creating novel (and potentially bizarre) game controllers and Daniela offered a Studio to explore what happens if bookbinding meets electronics.

[1] Holmquist, L. E., Gellersen, H., Kortuem, G., Schmidt, A., Strohbach, M., Antifakos, S., Michahelles, F., Schiele, B., Beigl, M., and Mazé, R. 2004. Building Intelligent Environments with Smart-Its. IEEE Comput. Graph. Appl. 24, 1 (Jan. 2004), 56-64. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MCG.2004.1255810

[2] Van Laerhoven, K., Villar, N., Schmidt, A., Gellersen, H., Håkansson, M., Holmquist, L. E. 2003. In-Home Networking – Pin&Play: The Surface as Network Medium, IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 41, no. 4, April 2003.

[3] Steve Hodges and Nicolas Villar, The Hardware Is Not a Given, in IEEE Computer, IEEE, August 2010

TEI Studio, making devices with Microsoft Gadgeteer

Nic Villar and James Scott from Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, run a Studio on building interactive devices at TEI 2011 in Madeira. Studio’s are mixture of tutorials and hands-on workshops and there were very interesting ones at this year’s conference – it was very hard to choose.

Microsoft Gadgeteer is a modular platform for creating devices. It includes a main board, displays, a camera, sensors, interaction elements, motors and servos, memory board, and USB-connectors as well as power supply options. It is programmable in C# using Visual Studio. The development involves the connecting up of the hardware and the writing of the software. A “hello world” example is a simple digital camera. You connect up the main board with the camera, a display, and a button. Writing less than 20 lines of code you implement the functionality of the camera. It follows an asynchronous approach. When the buttons is pressed the camera is instructed to take a picture. An event handle is registered that is called when the camera is ready capturing the image. And in the code in the handler you take the image and show it on the display. 10 years back we worked on a European project Smart-Its [1] and started with basic electronic building blocks and the idea of open source hardware where people could create their devices. Looking now at a platform like Gadgeteer one can see that there has been great progress in Ubicomp research over that time. It is great to see how Nic Villar has been pursuing this idea from the time he did his BSc thesis with Smart-Its in our lab in Lancaster, with Pin-and-Play/Voodoo I/O [2] in his PhD work, to the platform he is currently working on and the vision beyond [3].

It was amazing how quickly all groups got this examples working. For me, with programming experience – but no real experience in C# and with little practice in programming over the last few years – it was surprising how quickly I got into programming again. To me this was mainly due to the integration with visual studio – especially the suggestions made by the IDE were very helpful. James said the design rational for the Visual Studio integration was “you should never see just a blinking cursor” – and I think this was well executed.

All groups made over the day a design. I liked the “robot-face” that showed minimal emotions… basically if you come to close you can see it getting unhappy. My mini-project was a camera that use an ultrasonic range sensor and a larger display. It takes photos when someone comes close and shows the last 8 photos on the display – overwriting the first one when it comes to the end of the screen. Interested in how little code is required to do this? Check out the source code I wrote.

Two more studios I would have loved to attend: Amanda run a Studio on creating novel (and potentially bizarre) game controllers and Daniela offered a Studio to explore what happens if bookbinding meets electronics.

[1] Holmquist, L. E., Gellersen, H., Kortuem, G., Schmidt, A., Strohbach, M., Antifakos, S., Michahelles, F., Schiele, B., Beigl, M., and Mazé, R. 2004. Building Intelligent Environments with Smart-Its. IEEE Comput. Graph. Appl. 24, 1 (Jan. 2004), 56-64. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MCG.2004.1255810

[2] Van Laerhoven, K., Villar, N., Schmidt, A., Gellersen, H., Håkansson, M., Holmquist, L. E. 2003. In-Home Networking – Pin&Play: The Surface as Network Medium, IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 41, no. 4, April 2003.

[3] Steve Hodges and Nicolas Villar, The Hardware Is Not a Given, in IEEE Computer, IEEE, August 2010

TEI Studio, making devices with Microsoft Gadgeteer

Nic Villar and James Scott from Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, run a Studio on building interactive devices at TEI 2011 in Madeira. Studio’s are mixture of tutorials and hands-on workshops and there were very interesting ones at this year’s conference – it was very hard to choose.

Microsoft Gadgeteer is a modular platform for creating devices. It includes a main board, displays, a camera, sensors, interaction elements, motors and servos, memory board, and USB-connectors as well as power supply options. It is programmable in C# using Visual Studio. The development involves the connecting up of the hardware and the writing of the software. A “hello world” example is a simple digital camera. You connect up the main board with the camera, a display, and a button. Writing less than 20 lines of code you implement the functionality of the camera. It follows an asynchronous approach. When the buttons is pressed the camera is instructed to take a picture. An event handle is registered that is called when the camera is ready capturing the image. And in the code in the handler you take the image and show it on the display. 10 years back we worked on a European project Smart-Its [1] and started with basic electronic building blocks and the idea of open source hardware where people could create their devices. Looking now at a platform like Gadgeteer one can see that there has been great progress in Ubicomp research over that time. It is great to see how Nic Villar has been pursuing this idea from the time he did his BSc thesis with Smart-Its in our lab in Lancaster, with Pin-and-Play/Voodoo I/O [2] in his PhD work, to the platform he is currently working on and the vision beyond [3].

It was amazing how quickly all groups got this examples working. For me, with programming experience – but no real experience in C# and with little practice in programming over the last few years – it was surprising how quickly I got into programming again. To me this was mainly due to the integration with visual studio – especially the suggestions made by the IDE were very helpful. James said the design rational for the Visual Studio integration was “you should never see just a blinking cursor” – and I think this was well executed.

All groups made over the day a design. I liked the “robot-face” that showed minimal emotions… basically if you come to close you can see it getting unhappy. My mini-project was a camera that use an ultrasonic range sensor and a larger display. It takes photos when someone comes close and shows the last 8 photos on the display – overwriting the first one when it comes to the end of the screen. Interested in how little code is required to do this? Check out the source code I wrote.

Two more studios I would have loved to attend: Amanda run a Studio on creating novel (and potentially bizarre) game controllers and Daniela offered a Studio to explore what happens if bookbinding meets electronics.

[1] Holmquist, L. E., Gellersen, H., Kortuem, G., Schmidt, A., Strohbach, M., Antifakos, S., Michahelles, F., Schiele, B., Beigl, M., and Mazé, R. 2004. Building Intelligent Environments with Smart-Its. IEEE Comput. Graph. Appl. 24, 1 (Jan. 2004), 56-64. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MCG.2004.1255810

[2] Van Laerhoven, K., Villar, N., Schmidt, A., Gellersen, H., Håkansson, M., Holmquist, L. E. 2003. In-Home Networking – Pin&Play: The Surface as Network Medium, IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 41, no. 4, April 2003.

[3] Steve Hodges and Nicolas Villar, The Hardware Is Not a Given, in IEEE Computer, IEEE, August 2010

>Ubicomp 2010 Workshop: Ubiquitous Computing for Sustainable Energy (UCSE2010)

>Together with Adrian I organized a workshop at Ubicomp2010 in Copenhagen on Ubiquitous Computing for Sustainable Energy. The motivation for this were for me the question (1) if ubicomp can help to make energy provision more sustainable and (2) what are the central areas where ubicomp technologies can help. Over the last years we have seen a lot of example of motivational technologies – which I am not convinced of. For me the example of standby power is symptomatic. There was a lot of discussion how to reduce the standby consumption motivating people to actively do it and providing more awareness about energy consumption. This lead to a number of academically interesting investigations and prototype making people more aware of their consumption (e.g. the power aware cord)- however to me they do not make a real difference yet. A “simple law” (as we have recently seen in Europe, COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 1275/2008 following Directive 2005/32/EC) saying that you do not get the CE-certification for your device if it exceeds a certain power in standby did the job – at least in Europe. Within a few month all TVs that I have seen being advertised were below 1W standby consumption.

If you are more interested in the topic please have a look at the workshop web page. There are also the online proceedings available as well as some results of the discussion. During the workshop we got some feedback on facebook, a colleague stated: “if we didn’t have ubiquitous computing, our energy situation would be more sustainable … every time, for instance, a customer upgrades their mobile – iphone 5, anyone, the energy waste is huge“. I think that is a really important and valid comment, and I made the following reply “it is more complicated than that, e.g. how does this change if you use public transport instead of your Hummer (=personal lorry) because of your iPhone 5 ;-) or as you do your email on the iPhone and hence do not have a PC at home anymore … to be more serious one of the questions we posed the questions if sustainability is a CS topic and in what sense (or if this is rather a political questions)“. Adrian added a further response: “consumerism clearly has a lot to answer for. If we didn’t have conference travel, or didn’t submit the papers in the first place? … :-) I’m sure you know: Elaine M. Huang, Khai N. Truong’s CHI 2008 paper: Breaking the Disposable Technology Paradigm…” [1]. We continued this discussion over dinner and I think the ultimate answer is to go towards a live style of reduced consumption – but I expected this would crash our current economic system…

Coming out of the restaurant we saw an impressive firework and it seemed people (including me) liked it and we did not really think about wasting resources and polluting the environment for a short display…

[1] Huang, E. M. and Truong, K. N. 2008. Breaking the disposable technology paradigm: opportunities for sustainable interaction design for mobile phones. In Proceeding of the Twenty-Sixth Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Florence, Italy, April 05 – 10, 2008). CHI ’08. ACM, New York, NY, 323-332. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1357054.1357110

Ubicomp 2010 Workshop: Ubiquitous Computing for Sustainable Energy (UCSE2010)

Together with Adrian I organized a workshop at Ubicomp2010 in Copenhagen on Ubiquitous Computing for Sustainable Energy. The motivation for this were for me the question (1) if ubicomp can help to make energy provision more sustainable and (2) what are the central areas where ubicomp technologies can help. Over the last years we have seen a lot of example of motivational technologies – which I am not convinced of. For me the example of standby power is symptomatic. There was a lot of discussion how to reduce the standby consumption motivating people to actively do it and providing more awareness about energy consumption. This lead to a number of academically interesting investigations and prototype making people more aware of their consumption (e.g. the power aware cord)- however to me they do not make a real difference yet. A “simple law” (as we have recently seen in Europe, COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 1275/2008 following Directive 2005/32/EC) saying that you do not get the CE-certification for your device if it exceeds a certain power in standby did the job – at least in Europe. Within a few month all TVs that I have seen being advertised were below 1W standby consumption.

If you are more interested in the topic please have a look at the workshop web page. There are also the online proceedings available as well as some results of the discussion. During the workshop we got some feedback on facebook, a colleague stated: “if we didn’t have ubiquitous computing, our energy situation would be more sustainable … every time, for instance, a customer upgrades their mobile – iphone 5, anyone, the energy waste is huge“. I think that is a really important and valid comment, and I made the following reply “it is more complicated than that, e.g. how does this change if you use public transport instead of your Hummer (=personal lorry) because of your iPhone 5 ;-) or as you do your email on the iPhone and hence do not have a PC at home anymore … to be more serious one of the questions we posed the questions if sustainability is a CS topic and in what sense (or if this is rather a political questions)“. Adrian added a further response: “consumerism clearly has a lot to answer for. If we didn’t have conference travel, or didn’t submit the papers in the first place? … :-) I’m sure you know: Elaine M. Huang, Khai N. Truong’s CHI 2008 paper: Breaking the Disposable Technology Paradigm…” [1]. We continued this discussion over dinner and I think the ultimate answer is to go towards a live style of reduced consumption – but I expected this would crash our current economic system…

Coming out of the restaurant we saw an impressive firework and it seemed people (including me) liked it and we did not really think about wasting resources and polluting the environment for a short display…

[1] Huang, E. M. and Truong, K. N. 2008. Breaking the disposable technology paradigm: opportunities for sustainable interaction design for mobile phones. In Proceeding of the Twenty-Sixth Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Florence, Italy, April 05 – 10, 2008). CHI ’08. ACM, New York, NY, 323-332. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1357054.1357110

Ubicomp 2010 Workshop: Ubiquitous Computing for Sustainable Energy (UCSE2010)

Together with Adrian I organized a workshop at Ubicomp2010 in Copenhagen on Ubiquitous Computing for Sustainable Energy. The motivation for this were for me the question (1) if ubicomp can help to make energy provision more sustainable and (2) what are the central areas where ubicomp technologies can help. Over the last years we have seen a lot of example of motivational technologies – which I am not convinced of. For me the example of standby power is symptomatic. There was a lot of discussion how to reduce the standby consumption motivating people to actively do it and providing more awareness about energy consumption. This lead to a number of academically interesting investigations and prototype making people more aware of their consumption (e.g. the power aware cord)- however to me they do not make a real difference yet. A “simple law” (as we have recently seen in Europe, COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 1275/2008 following Directive 2005/32/EC) saying that you do not get the CE-certification for your device if it exceeds a certain power in standby did the job – at least in Europe. Within a few month all TVs that I have seen being advertised were below 1W standby consumption.

If you are more interested in the topic please have a look at the workshop web page. There are also the online proceedings available as well as some results of the discussion. During the workshop we got some feedback on facebook, a colleague stated: “if we didn’t have ubiquitous computing, our energy situation would be more sustainable … every time, for instance, a customer upgrades their mobile – iphone 5, anyone, the energy waste is huge“. I think that is a really important and valid comment, and I made the following reply “it is more complicated than that, e.g. how does this change if you use public transport instead of your Hummer (=personal lorry) because of your iPhone 5 ;-) or as you do your email on the iPhone and hence do not have a PC at home anymore … to be more serious one of the questions we posed the questions if sustainability is a CS topic and in what sense (or if this is rather a political questions)“. Adrian added a further response: “consumerism clearly has a lot to answer for. If we didn’t have conference travel, or didn’t submit the papers in the first place? … :-) I’m sure you know: Elaine M. Huang, Khai N. Truong’s CHI 2008 paper: Breaking the Disposable Technology Paradigm…” [1]. We continued this discussion over dinner and I think the ultimate answer is to go towards a live style of reduced consumption – but I expected this would crash our current economic system…

Coming out of the restaurant we saw an impressive firework and it seemed people (including me) liked it and we did not really think about wasting resources and polluting the environment for a short display…

[1] Huang, E. M. and Truong, K. N. 2008. Breaking the disposable technology paradigm: opportunities for sustainable interaction design for mobile phones. In Proceeding of the Twenty-Sixth Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Florence, Italy, April 05 – 10, 2008). CHI ’08. ACM, New York, NY, 323-332. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1357054.1357110

>Zeitgeist, GNOME Activity Journal etc. – Workshop at CHI

>On Saturday there was a workshop on monitoring, logging and reflecting. Know Thyself: Monitoring and Reflecting on Facets of One’s Life. In the workshop we discussed technologies and concepts for monitoring and using personal information. I started out with asking the question who knows what about you? The list is quickly growing (e.g. telecom provider, travel agent, super market, bank, mail provider, facebook, etc.) and so is the set of information they know about you. And it becomes clear that these entities keep a better record about an individual that the individuals themselves. Hence our central suggestion is that the user who is the one who could have easy access to all this information should make more of it and benefit from this information, for more see the paper [1] and the slides from the talk.

Zeitgeist Magic from Seif Lotfy on Vimeo.

There is more information about the workshop and the topic in general:

My pick of the contributions is the Dunbar email mining system from Stanford.

PS: CHI is good for your health :-)

[1] Thorsten Prante, Jens Sauer, Seif Lotfy, Albrecht Schmidt. Personal Experience Trace: Orienting Oneself in One’s Activities and Experiences. CHI 2010 workshop on Know Thyself: Monitoring and Reflecting on Facets of One’s Life.

Zeitgeist, GNOME Activity Journal etc. – Workshop at CHI

On Saturday there was a workshop on monitoring, logging and reflecting. Know Thyself: Monitoring and Reflecting on Facets of One’s Life. In the workshop we discussed technologies and concepts for monitoring and using personal information. I started out with asking the question who knows what about you? The list is quickly growing (e.g. telecom provider, travel agent, super market, bank, mail provider, facebook, etc.) and so is the set of information they know about you. And it becomes clear that these entities keep a better record about an individual that the individuals themselves. Hence our central suggestion is that the user who is the one who could have easy access to all this information should make more of it and benefit from this information, for more see the paper [1] and the slides from the talk.

Zeitgeist Magic from Seif Lotfy on Vimeo.

There is more information about the workshop and the topic in general:

My pick of the contributions is the Dunbar email mining system from Stanford.

PS: CHI is good for your health :-)

[1] Thorsten Prante, Jens Sauer, Seif Lotfy, Albrecht Schmidt. Personal Experience Trace: Orienting Oneself in One’s Activities and Experiences. CHI 2010 workshop on Know Thyself: Monitoring and Reflecting on Facets of One’s Life.

Zeitgeist, GNOME Activity Journal etc. – Workshop at CHI

On Saturday there was a workshop on monitoring, logging and reflecting. Know Thyself: Monitoring and Reflecting on Facets of One’s Life. In the workshop we discussed technologies and concepts for monitoring and using personal information. I started out with asking the question who knows what about you? The list is quickly growing (e.g. telecom provider, travel agent, super market, bank, mail provider, facebook, etc.) and so is the set of information they know about you. And it becomes clear that these entities keep a better record about an individual that the individuals themselves. Hence our central suggestion is that the user who is the one who could have easy access to all this information should make more of it and benefit from this information, for more see the paper [1] and the slides from the talk.

Zeitgeist Magic from Seif Lotfy on Vimeo.

There is more information about the workshop and the topic in general:

My pick of the contributions is the Dunbar email mining system from Stanford.

PS: CHI is good for your health :-)

[1] Thorsten Prante, Jens Sauer, Seif Lotfy, Albrecht Schmidt. Personal Experience Trace: Orienting Oneself in One’s Activities and Experiences. CHI 2010 workshop on Know Thyself: Monitoring and Reflecting on Facets of One’s Life.

NSF/EU workshop in Mannheim

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 ;-)