Papers are all similar – Where are the tools to make writing more effective?

Yesterday we discussed (again during the evening event of MobileHCI2009) how hard it would be to support the process of writing a high quality research paper and essays. In many conference there is a very defined style what you need to follow, specific things to include, and certain ways of how to present information. This obviously depends on the type of contribution but within one contribution type there could be probably provided a lot of help to create the skeleton of the paper… In many other areas Sounds like another project idea 😉

You ought to keep your essay presentation for the IELTS paper short. Recall that you just have 40 minutes to compose the exposition, and some of this time should be spent arranging. Along these lines, you should have the capacity to compose your presentation decently fast so you can begin composing your body sections and ask if needed.

Mobile HCI 2009 Keynote by Jun Rekimoto

The opening keynote of MobileHCI 2009 in Bonn was given by Jun Rekimoto. He showed selected work that he did over the last year and showed that some of the far out concepts (from a few years ago) are becoming products now – augmented reality with playing cards as one example and WIFI based location using placeEngine.

Context also featured in his talk: but there was little new in it – still where when why who what how. He suggested the notion of sensonomy (as folksonomy – just for sensor information). I can see the value of share sensor information but the concept sensonomy remains fuzzy – at least for me. Perhaps we hear more about this in the future.

In the final part of the talk he moved to life-logging – but not for humans but for cats (or pets in more general). I think the work is interesting and he clearly showed that this is enterainment computing (not entertainment for the cat – for the human). Pets are an interesting area: they are still a major form of entertainment and people are willing to spend a lot on it…

Workshop at MobileHCI: Context-Aware Mobile Media and Mobile Social Networks

Together with colleagues from Nokia, VTT, and CMU we organized a workshop on Context-Aware Mobile Media and Mobile Social Networks at MobileHCI 2009.

The topic came up in discussions some time last year. It is very clear that social network have moved towards mobile scenarios and that utilizing context and contextual media adds a new dimension. The workshop program is very diverse and ranges studying usage practices to novel technological solutions for contextual media and application.

One topic that is interesting to further look at is to use (digital) social networks for health care. Taking an analogy in history it is evident that the direct social group you were in took were the set of people that helped you in case of illness or accident. Looking at conditions and illnesses that cause a loss of mobility or memory it could be interesting to find applications on top of digital social networks to provide help. Seems this could be a project topic.

In one discussion we explored what would happen if we would change our default communication behavior from closed/secret (e.g. Email and SMS) to public (e.g. bulletin boards). I took the example of organizing this workshop: our communication has been largely on email and has not been public. If it would had been open (e.g. public forum) we probably would have organized the workshop in the same way but at the same time provided an example how one can organize a workshop and by this perhaps provided useful information for future workshop chairs. In this case there are little privacy concerns but images all communication is public? We would learn a lot about how the world works…

About 10 years ago we published at paper there is more to context than location [1]. However, looking at our workshop it seems: location is still the dominant context people think of. Many of the presentations and discussions included the term context, but the examples focused on location. Perhaps we do need location only? Or perhaps we should look more closely to find the benefit of other contexts?

[1] A. Schmidt, M. Beigl, H.W. Gellersen (1999) There is more to context than location, Computers & Graphics, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 893-901.

Ethics as material for innovation – German HCI conference – Mensch und Computer

On Tuesday I was at the German human computer interaction conference called Mensch und Computer. The keynote by Alex Kirlik was on Ethical Design (slides from his talk) and he showed how ethics extends beyond action to technology leading to the central question: Why should we build certain systems? His examples and the following discussion made me wonder whether “Ethics become the next Material for innovation”. Taking his example of 9/11 where old technology (air planes) and a different view on ethics was used to strike this is in contrast to previous/typical warfare where new technologies (e.g. Gun powder, Nuclear bomb) have changed the way wars are conducted.

Considering ethics as material for innovation is obviously risky but looking at successful businesses of the last decade such a trend can be argued for (e.g. google collecting information about the user to provide new services, youtube allowing users to share content with limited insurance that it is not copyrighted). Would be interesting to have a workshop on this topic sometime in the future…

Grace who left our group after finishing her Master’s degree (to work in the real world outside of university 😉 presented her paper on how to aid communication in the car between driver and passenger [1].

In the afternoon the working group on tangible interaction in mixed realities (in German Be-greifbare Interaktion in Gemischten Wirklichkeiten) had a workshop and a meeting. We will host the next workshop of the working group in Essen early next year (probably late February or early March).

PS: the next Mensch & Computer Conference ist at the University of Duisburg-Essen 🙂

[1] Grace Tai, Dagmar Kern, Albrecht Schmidt. Bridging the Communication Gap: A Driver-Passenger Video Link. Mensch und Computer 2009. Berlin.

Special issue of I-COM on automotive user interfaces

Together with Susanne Boll and Klaus Bengler I was guest editor for a special issue of the I-COM magazine on automotive user Interfaces. The papers are largely in German (but there are English abstracts available). The special issue shows different examples of work in this domain.

Dagmar and Stefan have a paper that describes the CARS driving simulator and its application [1]. Together with Stefan and Wolfgang from BMW research I published a paper on search interfaces in the car [2] – which was originality investigated in two master theses in Munich and also discussed in a CHI Note [3].

[1] Dagmar Kern, Schneegaß Stefan. CARS – Konfigurierbarer Fahrsimulator zur Bewertung der Fahrerablenkung (CARS – Configurable Automotive Research Simulator). i-com, Volume 8, Issue: 2 (Nutzungsschnittstellen und interaktive Anwendungen im Auto), 08/2009, ISSN: 1618-162X, pp. 30-33. doi: 10.1524/icom.2009.0022

[2] Wolfgang Spießl, Stefan Graf , Albrecht Schmidt. Suchbasierte Interaktion mit Fahrerinformationssystemen (Search-Based User Interfaces for In-Car Interaction). i-com, Volume 8, Issue: 2 (Nutzungsschnittstellen und interaktive Anwendungen im Auto), 08/2009, ISSN: 1618-162X, pp. 5-9. doi: 10.1524/icom.2009.0017

[3] Graf, S., Spiessl, W., Schmidt, A., Winter, A., and Rigoll, G. 2008. In-car interaction using search-based user interfaces. 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, 1685-1688. DOI=

More surface interaction using audio: Scratch input

After my talk at the Minerva School Roy Weinberg pointed me to a paper by Chris Harrison and Scott Hudson [1] – it also uses audio for creating an interactive surface. The novelty on the technical side is limited but nevertheless the approach is interesting and appealing because of its simplicity and its potential (e.g. just think beyond a fingernail on a table to any contact movement on surfaces – pushing toy cars, walking, pushing a shopping trolley…). Perhaps having a closer look at this approach a generic location system could be created (e.g. using special shoe soles that make a certain noise).

There is a youtube movie:

Besides his studies Roy develops software for the Symbian platform and he sells a set of interesting applications.

[1] Harrison, C. and Hudson, S. E. 2008. Scratch input: creating large, inexpensive, unpowered and mobile finger input surfaces. In Proceedings of the 21st Annual ACM Symposium on User interface Software and Technology (Monterey, CA, USA, October 19 – 22, 2008). UIST ’08. ACM, New York, NY, 205-208. DOI=

CfP: What can the Internet of Things do for the Citizen?

Together with Stephan Karpischek (ETH Zurich) and Florian Michahelles (ETH Zurich & Auto-ID labs) I organize a workshop at Pervasive 2010 in Helsinki looking for an end-user perspective on the Internet of Things.

The call is online at: and the deadline is the 15th of January 2010.

The topics that we hope for include emerging applications, interaction paradigms, infrastructure, and social impact of new technologies and the implications for citizens.

For more information you can subscribe to the facebook group.

Students generate interesting ideas, links to photos

In the final part of the summer school the students worked in groups to create new ideas for displays and their use. We had 5 groups working hard – all creating amazing results for such a short time. Sometimes I wonder how we could better utilize this design exercise as the results were really exciting.

On group looked into the concept of mobile and contextual displays on garments – the idea T-SHARE assesses potential applications, when having networked displays included in T-Shirts (see the group presentation for details). This moves an idea with have investigated over the last year to a new level. I am really thrilled and I think we should really look how to setup a larger project on this topic.

We worked hard 🙂 but in the time between we enjoyed our trip – here are the photos I took (Bahai Garden, climbing with Keith and Antonio, the trip to Jerusalem, School and Beach in Haifa).

[1] Florian Alt, Albrecht Schmidt, Christoph Evers: Mobile Contextual Displays. In: Pervasive Advertising Workshop @ Pervasive 2009. Nara, Japan 2009.