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

Large pixels along the underpass

In the refurbished railway station (not yet finished) there is an interesting new pixel display in one main underpass. One wall is covered with a display. It is about 10 pixel (probably about 4 meters) high and several hundred pixels long (have not counted/measured them). It changes colors and shows writing (so far not really exciting).

How cool would it be if there is a freely accessible programmable web-service to control these pixel? I would guess people could create all sorts of interesting content… Perhaps people would start to bargain to get their 5 minutes of virtual graffiti shown…

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=

Interaction technologies for display environments

I was invited to give a talk on “Embedded interaction with display environments” to discuss human computer interaction and technology issue for creating interactive display systems. The summer school has very diverse program! and I have enjoyed listening to my colleagues as much as presenting myself 🙂

In the talk I have a (more or less random) selection of technologies for making display environments interactive. There are the obvious vision based approaches (see the talk for the references) but I think there are many interesting approaches that are not yet fully explored. – including spatial audio location [1], eye tracking, and physiological sensors. Sebastian Boring create a focus and context input by combing different input technologies [2] – this can be especially interesting when scaling interaction up to larger surfaces. Additionally I think looking at the floor and the ceiling is worthwhile…

Please feel free to add further technologies and approaches for creating interactive displays in the comment.

[1] James Scott, Boris Dragovic: Audio Location: Accurate Low-Cost Location Sensing. Pervasive Computing: Third International Conference, PERVASIVE 2005, Munich, Germany, May 8-13, 2005. Springer LNCS 3468/2005. pp 1-18.

[2] S. Boring, O. Hilliges, A. Butz. A Wall-sized Focus plus Context Display. In Proceedings of the Fifth Annual IEEE Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (PerCom), New York, NY, USA, Mar. 2007

Reading material for summer school.

Tsvi Kuflik and Antonio Krüger organize from August 30th – September 3rd a German-Israeli Minerva School for Ubiquitous Display Environments: Intelligent Group Interaction, Foundations and Implementation of Pervasive Multimodal Interfaces. I will teach a session on: “Embedded interaction with display environments” and here is the list of recommended readings for the participants – if you are short on time only read the first one and glance over the other two.

Mahato, H., Kern, D., Holleis, P., and Schmidt, A. 2008. Implicit personalization of public environments using bluetooth. In CHI ’08 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Florence, Italy, April 05 – 10, 2008). CHI ’08. ACM, New York, NY, 3093-3098. DOI= (if you do not have access to ACM here is a copy on the web)

Schmidt, A.; van Laerhoven, K. 2001. How to build smart appliances? Personal Communications, IEEE. Volume 8, Issue 4, Aug 2001:66 – 71. DOI: 10.1109/98.944006. (if you do not have access to IEEE here is a copy on the web)

Villar N.; Schmidt A.; Kortuem G.; Gellersen H.-W. 2003. Interacting with proactive public displays. Computers and Graphics, Elsevier. Volume 27, Number 6, December 2003 , pp. 849-857(9). Draft Version “Interacting with proactive community displays” online available.

Visit to NEC labs in Heidelberg

In the afternoon I gave a talk at NEC labs in Heidelberg on ubiquitous display networks. Over the last year we developed and number of ideas and prototypes of interactive public display systems. We run a lab class (Fallstudien) on pervasive computing technologies and advertising together with colleagues from marketing. In another class (Projektseminar) we investigated how to facilitate interaction between interactive surfaces (e.g. multi touch table) and mobile devices. One of the prototypes will be shown as poster at mobile HCI 2009 in Bonn. In some thesis projects we introduced the notion of mobile contextual displays and their potential applications in advertising, see [1] and [2].

Seeing the work at NEC and based on the discussion I really think there is a great of potential for ubiquitous display networks – at the same time there are many challenges – including privacy that allways ensures discussion 😉 It would be great to have another bachelor or master thesis to address some of them – perhaps jointly with people from NEC. To understand the information needs in a particular display environment (at the University of Duisburg-Essen) we currently run a survey to better understand requirements. If you read German you are welcome to participate in the survey.

Predicting the future usually features in my talks – and interestingly I go a recommendation from Miquel Martin for a book that takes its own angle on that: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (the stack of book gets slowly to large – time for holidays).

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

[2] Florian Alt, Christoph Evers, Albrecht Schmidt: Users’ View on Car Advertisements. In: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Pervasive Computing, Pervasive’09. Springer Berlin / Heidelberg Nara, Japan 2009.

Our Publications at Pervasive – Public Displays, Car Adverts, and Tactile Output for Navigation

Our group was involved in 3 papers that are published at Pervasive 2009 in Nara.

The first contribution is a study on public display that was presented by Jörg Müller from Münster. The paper explores display blindness that can be observed in the real world (similarly to banner blindness) and concludes that the extent to which people look at displays is very much correlated to the users expectation of the content of a display in a certain location [1].

The second short paper is a survey on car advertising and has been conducted in the context of the master thesis of Christoph Evers. The central question is about the design space of dynamic advertising on cars and how the users perceive such a technology [2].

Dagmar presented a paper on vibra-tactile output integrated in the steering wheel for navigation systems in cars. The studies explored how multi-modal presentation of information impact driving performance and what modalities are preferred by users. The general conclusion is that combining visual information with vibra-tactile output is the best option and that people prefer multi-modal output over a single modality [3].

[1] Jörg Müller, Dennis Wilmsmann, Juliane Exeler, Markus Buzeck, Albrecht Schmidt, Tim Jay, Antonio Krüger. Display Blindness: The Effect of Expectations on Attention towards Digital Signage. 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing 2009. Nara, Japan. Springer LNCS 5538, pp 1-8.

[2] Florian Alt, Christoph Evers, Albrecht Schmidt. User’s view on Context-Aware Car Advertisement. 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing 2009. Nara, Japan. Springer LNCS 5538, pp 9-16.

[3] Dagmar Kern, Paul Marshall, Eva Hornecker, Yvonne Rogers, Albrecht Schmidt. Enhancing Navigation Information with tactile Output Embedded into the Steering Wheel. 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing 2009. Nara, Japan. Springer LNCS 5538, pp 42-58.

Meeting on public display networks

Sunday night I travelled to Lugano for a meeting public display networks. I figured out that going there by night train is the best option – leaving midnight in Karlsruhe and arriving at 6am there. As I planned to sleep all the time my assumption was that the felt travel time would be zero. Made my plan without the rail company… the train was 2 hours late and I walked up and down for 2 hours in Karlsruhe at the track – and interestingly the problem would have been less annoying if public displays would provide the relevant information … The most annoying thing was passengers had no information if or when the train will come and no one could tell (neither was anyone at the station nor was anyone taking calls at the hotline).
The public display – really nice state of the art hardware – showed for 1 hour nothing and that it showed that the train is one hour late (was already more than 1 hour after the scheduled time) and finally the train arrived 2 hours late (the display still showing 1 hour delay). How hard can it be to provide this information? It seems with current approaches it is too hard…

On my way back I could observe a further example of short comings with content on public display. In the bus office they had a really nice 40-50 inch screen showing teletext of the departure. The problem was it was the teletext for the evening as the staff has to manually switch the pages. Here too it is very clear the information is available but current delivery systems are not well integrated.

In summary it is really a pity how poorly the public display infrastructures are used. It seems there are a lot of advances in the hardware but little on the content delivery, software and system side.

Trip to Dublin, Aaron’s Display Project

Visiting Dublin is always a pleasure – even if the weather is rainy. Most of the day I was at Trinity College reading master theses (which is the second best part of being external examiner, best part is to have lunch at the 1592 😉
In the evening I met with Aaron Quigley and we talked about some ongoing display and advertsing projects in our groups. He told me about one of their recent workshop papers [1] on public displays where they investigated what people take in and what people remember of the content on displays in an academic environment. It is online available in the workshop proceedings of AIS08 [2]. I found it worthwhile to browse the whole workshop proceedings.
[1] Rashid U. and Quigley A., “Ambient Displays in Academic Settings: Avoiding their Underutilization”, Ambient Information Systems Workshop at UbiComp 2008, September 21, Seoul, South Korea (download [2], see page 26 ff)

Christian Kray visits our Lab

Christian Kray and I were colleagues in Lancaster for a very short time – he just joined the university when I left for Munich. After his post-doc in Lancaster he moved to a position in Newcastle.

His work at the cross roads of mobile interaction and public displays is very exciting. In particular he investigates interesting concepts related to visual codes – some aspects to these ideas are discussed in “Swiss Army Knife meets Camera Phone” [1]. His new prototypes are really cool and I look forward to see/read more about them.

We realized that there are many areas where we have common interests. Perhaps there is a chance in the future to work together on some of the ideas discussed!

[1] Swiss Army Knife meets Camera Phone: Tool Selection and Interaction using Visual Markers. C. Kray and M. Rohs. (2007) In “Workshop on Mobile Interaction with the Real World at Mobile HCI 2007”. Singapore, September 9, 2007.

Embedded Information – Airport Seoul

When I arrived in Seoul at the airport I saw an interesting instance of embedded information. In Munich we wrote a workshop paper [1] about the concept of embedded information and the key criteria are:

  • Embedding information where and when it is useful
  • Embedding information in a most unobtrusive way
  • Providing information in a way that there is no interaction required

Looking at an active computer display (OK it was broken) that circled the luggage belt (it is designed to list the names of people who should contact the information desk) and a fixed display on a suitcase I was reminded of this paper. With this set-up people become aware of the information – without really making an effort. With active displays becoming more ubiquitous I expect more innovation in this domain. We currently work on some ideas related to situated and embedded displays for advertising – if we find funding we push further… the ideas are there.
[1] Albrecht Schmidt, Matthias Kranz, Paul Holleis. Embedded Information. UbiComp 2004, Workshop ‘Ubiquitous Display Environments’, September 2004

Talk by Florian Michahelles, RFID showcase at Kaufhof Essen

Florian Michahelles, associate director of the AutoID-Labs in Zürich visited our group and gave a presentation in my course on Pervaisve Computing. He introduced the vision of using RFID in businesses, gave a brief technology overview and discussed the potential impact – in a very interactive session.

Florian and I worked together in the Smart-its project and during his PhD studies he and Stavros were well know as the experts on Ikea PAX [1], [2]. In 2006 and 2007 we ran workshops on RFID technologies and published the results and a discussion on emerging trends in RFID together [3], [4].

At Kaufhof in Essen you can see a showcase of using RFID tags in garment retail. The installation includes augmented shelves, an augmented mirror, and contextual information displays in the changing rooms. The showcase is related to the European Bridge project. …was fun playing with the system – seems to be well engineered for a prototype.

PS: Florian told me that Vlad Coroama finished his PhD. In a different context we talked earlier about his paper discussing the use of sensors to access cost for insurance [5] – he did it with cars but there are other domain where this makes sense, too.

[1] S. Antifakos, F. Michahelles, and B. Schiele. Proactive Instructions for Furniture Assembly. In UbiComp, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2002.

[2] Florian Michahelles, Stavors Antifakos, Jani Boutellier, Albrecht Schmidt, and Bernt Schiele. Instructions immersed into the real world How your Furniture can teach you. Poster at the Fifth International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing, Seattle, USA, October 2003.

[3]Florian Michahelles, Frédéric Thiesse, Albrecht Schmidt, John R. Williams: Pervasive RFID and Near Field Communication Technology. IEEE Pervasive Computing 6(3): 94-96 (2007)

[4] Schmidt, A., Spiekermann, S., Gershman, A., and Michahelles, F. 2006. Real-World Challenges of Pervasive Computing. IEEE Pervasive Computing 5, 3 (Jul. 2006), 91-93

[5] Vlad Coroama: The Smart Tachograph – Individual Accounting of Traffic Costs and Its Implications. Pervasive 2006: 135-152.

Visit at Microsoft in Redmond

AJ Brush and John Krumm organize for the people who are in Redmond for the Ubicomp PC meeting a visit to Microsoft. In the morning we got a tour at the home lab – Microsoft’s vision of future home environments – was quite interesting, but had to sign an NDA.
After lunch we went over to Microsoft Research (which is in a new building). We got to see some cool demos. Andy Wilson showed us some new stuff moving the SURFACE forward (physics rocks!). I learned more about depth sensing cameras and Andy showed a fun application [1] – there is video about it, too. Patrick Baudisch talked us through the ideas of LucidTouch [2] and more general about future interaction with small mobile devices. The idea of using the finger behind the screen and the means to increase the precision has many interesting aspects. I found the set of people that work at MSR as impressive as the demos – it seems to be a really exciting work environment.

The atrium of the new building is amazing for playing Frisbee and shoot rubber band missiles. And waiting for the pizza with those toys around proved yet again that researchers are often like kids 😉

[1] Wilson, A. Depth-Sensing Video Cameras for 3D Tangible Tabletop Interaction. Tabletop 2007: The 2nd IEEE International Workshop on Horizontal Interactive Human-Computer Systems, 2007.

[2] Wigdor, D., Forlines, C., Baudisch, P., Barnwell, J., Shen, C. LucidTouch: A See-Through Mobile Device. In Proceedings of UIST 2007, Newport, Rhode Island, October 7-10, 2007, pp. 269–278

A service for true random numbers

After the exam board meeting at Trinity College in Dublin (I am external examiner for the Ubicomp program) I went back with Mads Haahr (the course director) to his office. Besides the screen on which he works he has one extra where constantly the log entries of his web server is displayed. It is an interesting awareness devices 😉 some years ago we did a project where we used the IP-address of incoming HTTP-requests to guess who the visitors are and to show their web pages on an awareness display [1], [2]. Looking back at web visitors works very well in an academic context and with request out of larger companies where one can expect that information is available on the web. Perhaps we should revisit the work and look how we can push this further given the new possibilities in the web.

The web-server Mads has in his office is pretty cool – it provides true random numbers – based on atmospheric noise picked up with 3 real radios (I saw them)! Have a look at the service for yourself: It provides an HTTP interface to use those numbers in your own applications. I would not have though of a web service to provide random numbers – but thinking a little more it makes a lot of sense…

[1] Schmidt, A. and Gellersen, H. 2001. Visitor awareness in the web. In Proceedings of the 10th international Conference on World Wide Web (Hong Kong, Hong Kong, May 01 – 05, 2001). WWW ’01. ACM, New York, NY, 745-753. DOI=

[2] Gellersen, H. and Schmidt, A. 2002. Look who’s visiting: supporting visitor awareness in the web. Int. J. Hum.-Comput. Stud. 56, 1 (Jan. 2002), 25-46. DOI=

Interactive window displays – we have better ideas

It seems that in the research community a lot of people are convinced of interactive public spaces and interactive window displays. Over the last month I have see great visions and ideas – as well as reflected on our own multi-touch ideas for interactive shop windows.

The installations I have seen in the real world however are at best boring (and often not functioning at all). It seems that even a student-project-lab-demo is more appealing and works at least as realiable.

Especially combining sensing (e.g. simple activity recognition, context) with low threshold interactive content seems to have great potential. If there is somebody interested in really cool stuff for a shop window (attention grabbing, eye catchers, interactive content, etc.) – talk to me. We are happy to discuss a project proposal 😉

Central mechanical workshop

Currently we work in one of our courses on a specific multi-touch table. Students have already created a first version of an interesting application – and ideas for many more are there. However so far our prototype does not look like a table.

Learning that our university has central workshops we went there to talk about our project and to get the mechanical parts built. Our first meeting was really interesting – we got a tour and saw drilling and milling machines as well as a cutter that works with water (can cut glass precisely – extremely impressive). Best of all it seems (as they are at university) they find strange requirements in our prototypes not odd 😉

Our initial design is a welded metal table frame which leaves us a lot off options for experimenting with camera, projection, and surface. Looking really forward to see the first version!

Pervasive Computing to Change Advertising in the Real World

It was great to spend some time chatting with Alois Ferscha and Gabi Kotsis in Linz. We discussed future forms of advertisement and it seems that it is very clear that pervasive computing technologies – ranging from new displays, to tracking and implicit and explicit interaction – will change our high streets (and any other place where we expect or don’t advertising) in the near future significantly. Looking at current installations we can already see that the race for grapping customer’s attention is on. Given the many ideas around I expect it will be quite exciting.

One interesting movie on shows a pretty cool and novel form of advertising – beamvertising. The technology is simple (a projector mounted on a driving truck) but the effect looks pretty good! It is probably not legal but it shows interesting potential. I think interactive (outdoor) projections can be a real actor. Perhaps we should start talking to some companies to push our ideas for new forms of advertisement…

Visit at the University of Hamburg

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 had some discussion on emotions and capturing physiological parameters. Thinking about emotions and senses with regard to a community sharing them opens up a lot of potential for new experiences and potentially applications. We discussed this topic to some extent some weeks ago at the Human Computer Confluence Workshop in Brussels. I really thing a small scale experience in share emotions could move us forward and provide some more insight. In Hamburg they have the NeXus-system (perhaps we should get this too and create a networked application).

In my talk (creating novel user interfaces) I focused on the PhD work of Paul Holleis (KLM for mobile phones, his CHI Paper from last year) and of Heiko Drewes (Eye-Gestures, his Interact’07 paper). The discussion was quite interesting.

Information inside the cap

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.

Wall-Sized Printed Adverts with Integrated Screen

At Zurich Airport Orange and Nokia are running a large printed advert. At a first glance it looks just as a printed large scale poster. The TV screen in one poster and the projected writing on top of another poster are seamlessly integrated. The media design of the overall installation is appealing.

The active screen (could be a 50 inch plasma TV) is the screen of the mobile phone and shows the navigation application. In contrast to most other installations, where screens and printed posters are used, this appears right and it catches people’s attention.

There is work from Scott Klemmer’s group at Stanford that looks the relationship between the printed displays and projection/displays for various applications. The Gigaprints project was shown as a video at Ubicomp 2006.

Workshop dinner, illuminated faucet, smart sink

I first saw a paper about a context-aware sink at CHI 2005 (Bonanni, L., Lee, C.H., and Selker, T. “Smart Sinks: Real World Opportunities for Context-Aware Interaction.” Short paper in proceedings of Computer Human Interfaction (CHI) 2005, Portland OR).

Yesterday I saw a illuminated faucet in the wild – one which looked in terms of design really great (in the restaurant they even had flyers advertising the product). But after using it I was really disappointed. It uses the concept of color-illumination of the water based on temperature (red hot, blue cold).

The main issue I see with the user experience is that the visualization is not based on the real temperature using sensor but on the setting of the tap. Hence at the beginning when you switch on hot the visualization is immediately red – even though it is initially cold :-(

Conclusion: nice research idea some time ago, a business person saved a few cents for the senor and wiring, created a product with great aesthetics and a poor user experience; hence I left the leaflet with the ordering address there, don’t want to have it.

Ubisense system at IAIS used in the lab

During our lab on context- and location-aware systems we have currently one task to create a novel application using the Ubisense indoor location system. We have set up a little server in C# that reads out the tag-ids and the current x,y,z coordinates and multi-casts it via UDP to several clients.

The students have to create an application that reads the tags and their locations from UDP and make use of it. One first interesting result was a heat-map, that would allow to map out the usage of the room. By the end of term we hope to have a nice set of applications.

For many students it was the first time at the Fraunhofer lab and hence they found interesting things to play with. E.g. Diana explored the PointScreen , a system developed in the division Virtual Environments at Fraunhofer IAIS. Further reading on the point screen:
Li et al. Gesture Frame – a Screen Navigation System for Interactive Multimedia and Strauss et al. : Information Jukebox – A semi-public device for presenting multimedia
information content

Public Displays and Responsibility for Content

Antonio Krüger at the University of Münster is running an infrastructure of public displays that show various kinds of information. Using a web editor a select set of people (mainly staff at the department) can input and manage the information chunks that are presented.

In our discussion it became obvious that running such public displays comes with a lot of responsibilities and that people are very quick at complaining about content (may it be censorship or offending content). This leads then to more or less closed and controlled system – but I wonder if we are not overcautious or the expectations around us are too high.

I took a picture of one door in a restroom in the University. It is converted in a public display by people (anonymously) using a pen – and its content is neither politically correct nor suitable for children. However this is rightly blamed on the people who do the damage and not on the administration or designer that decided that the doors are white and made of a material one can write on.

Visit at the Institute for Geoinformatics in Münster

Yesterday we had the opportunity to see a set of research demos at the lab of Antonio Krüger at the University of Münster. We had some time to discuss research projects and in the afternoon Nigel and I gave a talk at the Geoinformatics seminar.

We saw exciting work in progress – a nearly ready large scale multi-touch display based on frustrated total internal reflection – according to Antonio the world-largest at the moment. The principle of operation of such a display is very appealing and the demo was convincing. For a comprehensive introduction on the topic see Jef Han’s UIST 2005 technote “Low-cost multi-touch sensing through frustrated total internal reflection . I really think we should build one, too (obviously a bit bigger than Antonio’s 😉

Public Displays – Making Life More Predictable

On my way home from Toronto it was surprising how many public displays I saw that provided me with ”information about the future”, e.g. telling me when I will be out of time to cross the road, when the next train is due or when my luggage will arrive. These kinds of predictions or contexts are simple to gather and easy to present and best of all: the human is in control and can act on the information. Overall it is reassuring even if the context information is wrong (this is another story about my luggage ;-).