Monthly Archives: April 2007

Dell started some time ago a web page where the public was asked for comments on improvement (http://www.ideastorm.com) – by now the list is quite impressive – at least in length. Such open community processes are really exciting to watch. I am curious which of those suggestions are implemented and how successful it is to listen to customers direct responses. If it works well others are probably trying it, too…

To make the most out of these suggestions and comments it seems essential to perform a detailed analysis (perhaps taking into account temporal dynamics of the conversation additionally… Continue reading

This morning I washed my dished (manually in a kitchen sink) and afterwards (with dry hands) I tried to log on to my computer using the finger print scanner. My thumb did not work anymore. Looking closer at my thumb it seemed clear that this looked temporarily different as it was in the water for 10 minutes. A few minutes later the thumb is back to normal, but I already logged using a password. What do I learn from this – If I will do a ubicomp project in the kitchen (similar to things we did in Munich) I will… Continue reading

In the castle on campus Ute Schütz and Michael Krapp from IAIS and SCAI organize a public panel discussion on citizen journalism and Web 2.0 trends. The discussion looked at the topic from several angles including technology, content, and communication. I had the honour to be on the panel with Wolfgang Back, Frank Patalong, Moritz „mo.“ Sauer and Thomas Tikwinski.

On issue was how much blogs are (mis)used to transport information or to do advertising. The web seems to be to many people a very believable medium. This reminded me of an article I read some time ago on story-telling… Continue reading

In Germany there are still too few girls and women interested in studying technical subjects – it may have different reasons but I think trying to convince young girls that technology is really exciting is a good way of addressing the problem.

We had this morning 7 girls visiting our lab. Matching our current teaching at B-IT (and using the test implementation Dagmar made 😉 we offered the topic “The computer knows where I am – how does this work”. First we played a mini geocaching game where they had to find a bag of jelly babies behind the castle.… Continue reading

Some weeks ago I saw for the first time one of the intelligent scales in the wild (=outside the lab). At that time I was really impressed how well it worked (sample size: n=1, product: banana, pack: no-bag, recognition performance: 100%). Last time I was too late so there was no time to play or see other people using it – but today I had some 5 minutes to invest.

The basic idea of the scale is simple and quite convincing. The customers put their purchase on the scales. A camera makes a guess what it is and the selection… 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

We are delighted to have a group of people visiting from Lancaster University in the UK. Prof. Nigel Davies and 2 of his PhD students, Oliver Storz and André Hesse, came last week to Bonn and will stay with us for the next 3 months. It is great that Nigel decided to have his Sabbatical at Fraunhofer IAIS and B-IT, University of Bonn.

Earlier this evening we had already a brain storming session at the Bier garden of the Bahnhöfchen in Beuel (www.bahnhoefchen.de). I am really looking forward to interesting joined projects in the next weeks and months.

My navigation system records simple statistics. I was surprised to see that I have been sitting in my car for about 25 hours in the last 4 months – not driving. Overall it means that 30% of the time I am actually not driving (usually waiting at a traffic light or a railroad crossing – not sure if the 30% are a Bonn-phenomenon).

This makes me wonder if it would be useful to design technologies that provide entertainment or education during these forced waiting times. Could I have used these 25 hours to learn or improve a language? Or could… Continue reading

The Embedded Interaction Research Group (www.hcilab.org) moved in the beginning of April from the University of Munich to the University of Bonn. Paul Holleis (www.paul-holleis.de) , who worked on the project for the last 3 years joined us now in Bonn. It is really great to have him and his experience here!

Matthias Kranz (www.ibr.cs.tu-bs.de/users/kranz/) who also worked on the project is now in Braunschweig working with Michael Beigl. Braunschweig is too close to not work together – this term we run a seminar on context-aware and ambient systems in parallel at TU Braunschweig and University of Bonn.