Guests in my multimodal interaction class

Today I had brought 3 more professors with me to teach the class on multimodal interaction (I learned from Hans). As we have the pd-net project meeting Nigel Davies, Marc Langheirich, and Rui Jose were in Stuttgart and ‘volunteered’ to give a talk.

Nigel talked about the work in Lancaster on the use of mobile computing technology to support sustainable travel. He explained the experiments they conducted for collecting and sharing travel related information. In the 6th Sense Transport project they look beyond looking at understanding the current context into predictions and eventually ‘time travel’ 😉

Marc presented a one hour version of his tutorial on privacy introducing the terminology and explaining the many facets this topic has. We discussed the ‘NTHNTF’ argument (Nothing To Hide Nothing To Fear) and Marc used an example of to show the weaknesses of this argument. Marc suggested some reading if you want to dive into the topic, see [1,2,3,4].

Rui focused in his lecture on pervasive public displays. He gave an overview of typical architectures for digital signage systems and the resulting limitation. The pd-net approach aims at creating an open platform that allows many different applications and use cased. He showed once concept of using virtual pin-badges to trigger content and to express interest in a certain topic.

There is more information on the pd-net project on

[1] David Brin. The Transparent Society. Perseus Publishing, 1999.
[2] Simson Garfinkel: Database Nation – The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century. O’Reilly, 2001.
[3] Lawrence Lessig: Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. Basic Books, 2006.
[4] Waldo, Lin, Millett (eds.): Engaging Privacy and Information Technologygy in a Digital Age. National Academies Press, 2007.

Call for Papers: Symposium on Pervasive Display Networks

Rui José and Elaine Huang are chairing an international symposium on pervasive displays in Portugal. The conference will be held June 4-5 2012 in Porto. The submission deadline for full papers is January 16th, 2012.

With our research in the PD-net project we encounter many interesting research questions and met with many other researchers interested in the topic. It seems that the many real deployments of electronic displays is fueling ideas and makes it obvious that research is required to understand the properties of this new upcoming media. The call states: “As digital displays become pervasive, they become increasingly relevant in many areas, including advertising, art, sociology, engineering, computer science, interaction design, and entertainment.

We hope with this symposium we will bring together researchers and practitioners as well as users to share research results and generate new ideas.

Submissions that report on cutting-edge research in the broad spectrum of pervasive digital displays are invited, ranging from large interactive walls to personal projection, from tablets and mobile phone screens to 3-D displays and tabletops. Topics include:

  • Novel technologies
  • Architecture
  • Applications
  • Domains and formative studies studies
  • Evaluations and deployments
  • Interfaces and interaction techniques
  • Content design

Have a look at the webpage and the call for paper at

Closing Keynote at AMI2011, Beyond Ubicomp – Computing is Changing the Way we Live

On Friday afternoon I had the privilege to present the closing keynote at AMI2011 in Amsterdam with the title ‘Beyond Ubicomp – Computing is Changing the Way we Live’. The conference featured research in Ambient Intelligence ranging from networking and system architecture to interfaces and ethnography. It brought an interesting set of people together and it was good to see many students and young researchers presenting their work.

In my closing keynote at talked about my experience of the last 13 years in this field and about a vision of the future. My vision is based on a basic technology assessment – basically looking what technologies will (in my view) definitely come over the next 20 years and looking at the implications of this. I stared out with a short reference to Mark Weiser’s now 20 year old article [1]. The upcoming issue of IEEE Pervasive Magazine will have a in-depth analysis of the last 20 years since Weiser’ article – we have also an article in there on how interaction evolved.

The vision part of the talk looked “Perception beyond there here and now” [2] from 3 different angles:

  • Paradigm Shift in Communication
    Here I argue that the default communication in the future will be public communication and only if something is secret we will try to use non public channel. First indicators of this are a switch from email to twitter and facebook. I used a cake baking example to highlight the positive points of this shift.
  • Steep Increase in media capture
    The second angle is just observing and extrapolating the increase in capture of media information. If you go already now on youtube you will information about many things (backing a cake, repairing a bike, etc.). The implication of this increase in media capture will be virtually unlimited access to experience other people share
  • Transformation of experienced perception
    The final angle is that this creates a new way of perceiving the world. We will extent perception beyond the here and now and this is bringing a completely new way of creating and accessing information. I used the example of enquiring about buying an international train ticket at the station in Amsterdam. If you can look there through other people’s eyes the question becomes trivial.

My overall argument is that we are in for a major transformation of our knowledge and information culture. I would expect that this shift is as radical as the shift from an oral tradition to the written societies – but the transition will be much quicker and in the context of a globalized and competitive world.

The main conclusion from this is: Ethics and values are the central design material of this century.

Looking at twitter it seems it got across to some in the audience 😉 If your are interested, too have a look at the slides from the keynote.

[1] Mark Weiser. The computer for the 21st century. Scientific American, Vol. 265, No. 3. (1991)
[2] Albrecht Schmidt, Marc Langheinrich, and Kritian Kersting. 2011. Perception beyond the Here and Now. Computer 44, 2 (February 2011), 86-88. DOI=10.1109/MC.2011.54