Yearly Archives: 2007

When driving back from a Workshop with the ART group of Fraunhofer IAIS at Naafs Häuschen I saw some interesting posters. A new car-related portal for selling and buying cars (pkw.de) has an interesting advertising campaign out. The only argument is on an easy to use and quick user interface – nothing else. So far many of them have tried to argue with the largest set of offers, but recently many of the major players (mobile.de and autoscout24.de) have improved their user interfaces.

It seems that a broader awareness for the user interface – basically that… Continue reading

We currently run a survey on “Implicit Personalization of Public Environments” as part of a master thesis. The thesis looks at the technical realization of this approach based on Bluetooth and mobile devices with a focus on creating an acceptable solution with regard to users’ privacy. If you are interested in the topic and can spare 5 minutes have a look at our questionnaire on implicit personalization, there is a German version of the survey, too.

The questionnaire is set up on a server (http://onlineforschung.org) that offers free hosting for scientific/non-profit surveys.

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 Pervasive 2008 TPC meeting on Saturday was held distributed over 3 continents and linked via video conference. In Germany we had a really good time slot (12:00 to 20:00) – Australia and California had a really late/early day.

The meeting worked well over video and considering the saved travel time it seems this is a acceptable alternative to a full physical meeting. It was interesting to see that the video conferencing quality did not really improve much over the last years. We ran the TPC meeting for Ubicomp 2003 between the UK and the USA also with a video… 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.

Recently an interesting mobile health product was launched: the glucoboy – http://www.glucoboy.com/ . It is designed as an add-on to the Nintendo Gameboy. The basic idea is to combine blood glucose measuring for children and video gaming.

This product shows that an in-depth understanding of the problem domain can create novel interactive products (in this case the idea was conceived by a parent with a direct insight into the problem). For user interface engineering we see again a clear value of contextual enquiry (or at least contextual understanding) combined with a clever utilization of technology.

In Linz the students of the course unconventional user interfaces showed their first set of functional prototypes. The topics are related to interactive mirrors, context-aware advertisement posters, healthy rear-seat entertainment, and text input while driving. The assignment was to create a system that allows creating an authentic user experience for the concept. The technical solutions were very different and ranged from a dismantled keyboard to a system using a micro-controller, from a two-way mirror with display behind to direction detection in front of an advert. Even though the prototypes were fairly simple most of them showed impressively how much of… Continue reading

Thought experiment: if we have the same number of trains we have at the moment and we let them travel as we do at the moment – but without time tables (basically a train is always on time – it is there when it arrives – similar to today). Customers would have real time access to all trains and the system could provide estimates when a certain train is where – perhaps with a confidence interval and probabilities of connections and travel times (obviously with an understandable user interface).

Would this be a better or worse model of public transport?… Continue reading

In Frankfurt there was today an expert meeting on RFID and ubicomp organized by the Fraunhofer ISI. The purpose was a discussion about the impact of RFID technologies. The organizers will use our input to inform the creation of a document of technology assessment for the German parliament. The majority of the participants came from companies developing RFID technology or system.In the first part of my talk “RFID and Beyond” I highlighted results from two workshops where I was a co-organizer: PTA2006 and Pertec2007 held at the Pervasive and Percom conferences. The results were also published in 2 papers… Continue reading

In our course “case studies in pervasive computing” we re-build systems that are described in the research literature and try to improve them or to apply them to new domains. This term the topic is on multi-touch displays. Starting out with Jeff Han’s paper “Low-cost multi-touch sensing through frustrated total internal reflection” we think about novel interaction methods for large screens. And after some initial problems (filter in the web cam we used) we have a first hardware prototype that shows the FTIR effect. The page of Thomas M. Brand is a good starting point if you too… Continue reading

At the CHI PC-meeting in Amsterdam I talked to a number of people – and it seems we are not the only one’s who are interested in interactive mirrors. It seems that breaking the physical limitations in time and space, a convention mirror imposes, creates some interest within the research community.

I talked to Boris de Ruyter about the Philips mirror project in the homelab and learned from Bo Begole about their work on interactive mirrors at PARC. It may be interesting to propose a workshop on interactive mirrors at one of the upcoming conference to get the people together… Continue reading

What have learned to do when our computer or phone does not work anymore? Easy just reboot it. A colleague recently told me his rental car broke down (basically did not work anymore) but after resetting it, it worked fine again. When he told me I found this pretty strange – ok the radio or opening the car boot – but essential functions related to driving?

Today I was travelling on an ICE high-speed train to Amsterdam for the CHI-Notes committee meeting and shortly after we left Germany the train lost speed and became slower and just rolled out. Then… Continue reading

Prof. Hiroshi Ishii from the MIT Media Laboratory, kindly accepted our invitation to be the keynote speaker of TEI’08 in Bonn. We are absolutely delighted that he will come to the conference. Looking back at last year’s proceedings of TEI, and seeing the references in the papers, it is obvious how much he has inspired and shaped this research field.

I recently learned that Prof. Ishii has lived and worked in Bonn in 1987-1988 at GMD (which became later Fraunhofer. He was then a Post-Doc and worked topics related to CSCW.

There are so many paper of tangibles… Continue reading

The Fraunhofer institute IAO opened today a new interaction lab in Stuttgart under the topic interaction with all senses. Prof. Spath, director of the Fraunhofer IAO, made a strong argument for new user interfaces. In his talk he discussed adaptive cruse control in cars as an example for user interface challenges.

My talk on “implicit interaction – smart living in smart environments” argues for a sensible mix of user centred design and technology driven innovation. As one example I used the Sensor-Knife which Matthias Kranz implemented.

Prof. Jürgen Ziegler, a colleague at the University of Duisburg-Essen… Continue reading

Yesterday we visited the computer science department at the University of Hamburg. Prof. Oberquelle und Beckhaus had invited me at the Mensch & Computer conference to visit them and give a talk about our work.

Before the seminar we had a chance to see the lab of Steffi Beckhaus. I have tried the ChairIO – and it was fun. They sound floor creates a really interesting experience (similar to the butt-kicker just more intense). We could also play with GranulatSynthese and try the smell user interface (apple smell is absolutely convincing, not sure about some of the others).

We… Continue reading

I have been at Trinity College in Dublin today as external member of the MSc exam board. While reading MSc dissertations I learned at lot of interesting things. Here are two pointers to technologies which I like to share (they may be useful in further projects):

SUMO – Simulation of Urban Mobility: An open source traffic simulation packagehttp://sumo.sourceforge.net/

Small computing platform: http://gumstix.com/

Time is flying. We are nearly one month in Essen. Teaching started well and quite a number of students came to our course (see http://www.pervasive.wiwi.uni-due.de/en/teaching/). We have a reliable Internet connection and more furniture than we need 😉 Starting from scratch is a great experience – especially as everybody was very helpful. Nevertheless it takes a lot of time and effort. I am extremly happy that I was able to start with a real team (Dagmar and Paul)!

At the Fraunhofer retreat in Westerburg we had very interesting discussions on research and research strategies in computer science. The span of excellent research in computer science is enormous ranging from theoretical work (e.g. math style proofs), to engineering type work (e.g. systems), to experimental and empirical work (e.g. studies). This makes it really challenging to find a common notion of “excellent research”. This reminds me of an interesting book which I started to read (recommended to me at the retreat): In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best Run Companies by Robert H Waterman et al. – so far… Continue reading

I am teaching a guest course at the University of Linz in the Pervasive Computing master program. The topic is Unconventional User Interaction – User Interfaces in a Pervasive Computing World (http://www.ubicomp.net/uui). Today we started with an introduction to motivate how pervasive computing changes human computer interaction. I am already looking forward to the projects!

At dinner I learned why you can never have enough forks in a good restaurant. In case you loose your pen for the mobile phone a fork will do… The topic of the lecture is everywhere!

Travelling on the train from Crailsheim to Nürnberg I saw several police officers on their travels back from an assignment at Stuttgarter Volksfest. When we got off the train the collected their caps from the luggage rack and observed an interesting (traditional) information display.

Inside the cap they carried a schedule and a description of the location they had to go. The size of the paper-display was about 15 x 15 cm. It seems an interesting place to display and access information – perhaps we will do a digital version of the cap as an assignment in our courses.

From Monday on I will be at the University of Duisburg-Essen. After a little less than a year in Bonn a new challenge is ahead: setting up a new group on Pervasive Computing and User Interface Engineering. The lab will be situated at the campus in Essen (Schützenbahn 70) in the heart of the city. Our group will be in the Institute for Computer Science and Business Information Systems in the faculty of Economics. Teaching starts in the winter term with a lecture on User Interface Engineering and several project oriented courses.

The focus will be on systems, user… Continue reading

This afternoon our UbiLog workshop was held in Bremen as part of the Informatik 2007 conference. We selected 4 papers for presentation and had a lively and interesting discussion.

Following the talk of Nikolai Krambrock we discussed the use context, and in particular location, to restrict or allow access to information. My favourite example is an online-banking appliance that only works in predefined areas (e.g. at home and in my car). Using context appears one option in creating human understandable solutions for secure systems. People have developed means to protect physical objects and valuable, perhaps we should draw more on… Continue reading

At the dinner of this yeas GI conference Professor Gerhard Krüger became the 6th honorary member of the German Computer Science Society (GI, Gesellschaft für Informatik). He was one of the people who understood very early that computer science is a central topic and pushed in the 1980ies form higher capacities in computer science at German Universities.

When I was at Karlsruhe (1998-2001) he was my supervisor and taught me a lot! In short: invest in the development of people.

Over the last few days at Ubicomp 2007 in Innsbruck it was great to catch up with many people from the community. The discussions in the evenings are very inspiring and so were some of the talks.

We tried to explain the idea of ubiquitous computing to journalist and it seems they got the idea. And hence Ubicomp 2007 was featured in the Austrian Press:

Ubicomp 2008 will be in Korea.

Alireza Sahami presented our CardiViz project at the demo session at Ubicomp. We were very happy that the project that was the result of our IPEC course on developing mobile applications was accepted as a demo.

For more details see:Alireza Sahami Shirazi, Diana Cheng, Oliver Kroell, Dagmar Kern, Albrecht Schmidt. CardioViz: Contextual Capture and Visualization for Long-term ECG Data. Adjunct Proceedings of Ubicomp 2007 (Demo).

Jonna Häkkilä, Anind Dey, Kari Hjelt, and I organized organized the Ubiwell workshop (Interaction with Ubiquitous Wellness and Healthcare Applications) at this years pervasive. Alireza presented another paper on heartbeat monitoring there:Florian Alt,… Continue reading

It is often discussed whether or not the user interface in the car matters or not. The basic argument is that cars are emotional and hence the driving experience matters and everything else is secondary.

However it seems the user interface becomes more and more part of the experience. On Saturday night I travelled via Munich to Innsbruck – and had again some time on in the lounge at the railway station. In a article on the new VW concept car UP it was interesting to see that about 15% of the text (about 20 lines text of the whole… Continue reading

Heiko Drewes and Richard Atterer, collegues from university of Munich, have travelled to Interact 2007. Their emails indicate that the conference is this year at a most interesting place. The conference is in Rio de Janeiro, directly at the Copacabana. The conference was highly competitive and we are happy to have two papers we can present there.

Heiko presents a paper that shows that eye gestures can be used to interact with a computer. In his experiments he shows that users can learn gesture with eyes (basically moving the eyes in a certain pattern, e.g. following the outline of a… Continue reading

Some weeks ago Ben Sutherland from The Economist called. He was researching for an article discussing the computing revolution over the last 25 years. In his research he to talked to many different people (from different countries, different fields, different views) and was particularly interested in applications that will come in the future and with me in particular on the concept of context-awareness.

The article “The trouble with computers” appeared 6th of September and discusses a mix of ideas and viewpoints. We talked about 30 minutes on the phone and I am quite surprised what statement he picked… Continue reading

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