Ensuring Privacy – trust in the physical


After having a really interesting discussion on privacy with a student at CDTM with regard to implicit interaction I saw the depicted privacy solution on the train back to Bonn. The woman had her notebook camera disabled – not in software – but physically with a scotch tape and a piece of paper. Such solutions are not uncommon and remind one impressively that people want tangible control over their privacy. It seems that people trust in the physical much more than the virtual – and for a good reason.

I reduced the size of the picture as she was preparing an exam paper (school, 7th grade math) and in full resolution details are readable – so much about privacy. One could make that mental note not to edit/view any private document on the train even in small print as it is very quick to talk a phone (even with a phone) and read it afterwards 😉

Lecture at CDTM in Munich

The CDTM is a joint elite study program from LMU Munich and TU Munich (http://www.cdtm.de/). It offers a set of complementary course for students from different backgrounds including math, business studies, engineering, computer science and media informatics. In their course on multimodal HCI I gave today an introductory lecture on the motivation for and the basics of user interface engineering.

In the seminar room was a real typewrite – in fact a travel type write. It was a real good prop to discuss micro- and macro-efficiency.

One question about the sustainability of a competitive advantage based on user interfaces made me really think. As the user interface is visible it is really hard to protect the competitive advantage and IPR are difficult on this topic. Desktop GUIs are a good example how quickly ideas propagate between competing systems. The only real option to maintain a competitive advantage is to continuously innovate – keeping the status quo means falling behind. The fact that one can not keep new user interface concepts secret (if one includes them in a product) is one of the most exciting aspects of user interfaces research – it is fast moving because everyone shows off their results!

Our Presentations at CHI’07 in San Jose

At this years CHI the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems we presented 3 contributions: a full paper, a CHI-note, and a work in progress paper. Have a look at them!

Holleis, P., Otto, F., Hussmann, H., and Schmidt, A. 2007. Keystroke-level model for advanced mobile phone interaction. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (San Jose, California, USA, April 28 – May 03, 2007). CHI ’07. ACM Press, New York, NY, 1505-1514. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1240624.1240851

Atterer, R. and Schmidt, A. 2007. Tracking the interaction of users with AJAX applications for usability testing. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (San Jose, California, USA, April 28 – May 03, 2007). CHI ’07. ACM Press, New York, NY, 1347-1350. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1240624.1240828

Holleis, P., Kern, D., and Schmidt, A. 2007. Integrating user performance time models in the design of tangible UIs. In CHI ’07 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (San Jose, CA, USA, April 28 – May 03, 2007). CHI ’07. ACM Press, New York, NY, 2423-2428. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1240866.1241018

Visit at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne

Today I was invited at the Citizen Media seminar to discuss mobile and ubiquitous computing topics with people working in the project. Fraunhofer IAIS and the Academy of Media Arts Cologne are both partners in the European Citizen Media project (http://www.ist-citizenmedia.org/). It is a difficult question how to create and support a mobile community. The provision of software and infrastructure is obviously required – e.g. Alexander De Luca and Michael Müller (students I supervised in Munich) designed and implemented an open source software as a basis for mobile blogging (mobile reporter) – but the process that forms and evolves specific community is still little understood.

It was great to meet Georg Trogemann, who is professor for audiovisuell art and computer science at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. Only after I had left I realised that he is the author of a quite interesting book a recently got (Code@Art; ISBN 3-211-20438-5).

We had an interesting discussion on how to most effectively involve users in the design process of novel products. In particular when we expect that technology drives innovation and when future user needs are to be anticipated. I reported from our very positive experience with technology probes (article at IEEE Percom). To me it is central to involve users from the very beginning and throughout all stages of a project and at the same time allow technology to drive innovation beyond current users’ needs.

We had much too little time to see all the interesting projects that are going on there so we have to go back there 😉 the lab and setup in Cologne reminded me of Bill Gaver‘s group at RCA (when we worked together in Equator some year ago).