Nicolas visited us in Essen to give the opening talk of our German meeting on tangible interaction. In his talk he first showed some examples of the hardware and sensors group at Microsoft research in Cambridge, most notably the SenseCam (which we learned is licensed and will be soon commercially available).

In the main part of the talk Nicolas presented a modular embedded architecture that allows developers to create custom made digital systems with fairly little effort. By integrating physical development (3D printing), functional blocks and software development the approach aims at empowering developers to create entirely new devices. His… Continue reading

JΓΆrg just sent me a link on a rubber-like stretchable display that is published in Nature Material. There is a previous press release with some photos [2]. This is a significant step towards new nteractive devices, such as the one suggested in the GUMMI project [3].

[1] Stretchable active-matrix organic light-emitting diode display using printable elastic conductors, Tsuyoshi Sekitani et al., Nature Materials, doi: 10.1038/nmat2459http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nmat2459.html

[2] http://www.ntech.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/Archive/Archive_press_release/press_stretchable/documents/press_release_en.pdf

[3] Schwesig, C., Poupyrev, I., and Mori, E. 2004. Gummi: a bendable computer. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Vienna, Austria, April 24 – 29, 2004).… Continue reading

Instead of covering the history of calculating machines in the DSD lecture, we took the train and went to the Arithmeum in Bonn to the see the artefacts live and to play with some of them. We started with early means for counting and record keeping. The tokens and early writings did not use numbers as abstract concepts, rather as representatives of concrete objects – this is very inspiring, especially from a tangible interaction point of view. The knots, as used in south America, show impressively how the tools for calculation have to fit the context people live in. Interestingly… Continue reading
This term we teach digital system design and besides the essential (gates, flip-flops, 2-complements, alu, data path, etc) we decided to include some practical parts. In the first part we introduced Verilog. We did the exercises with Icarus Verilog (free, text-based verilog) and there are more powerful tools available, e.g. ISE WebPACK.

In the second part we have practical exercises in assembly language using the Ez430-F2013 development kit. We borrowed one kit to each student (just in case someone is bored over Christmas) and the current task is to complete and assembly program (incomplete sample) that the… Continue reading

Flying back from Sydney with Qantas and now flying to Seattle with Lufthansa I had to long distance flights in which I had the opportunity to study (n=1, subject=me, plus over-shoulder-observation-while-walking-up-and-down-the-aisle πŸ˜‰ the user interface for the in-flight entertainment.

The 2 systems have very different hardware and software designs. The Qantas infotainment system is a regular screen and interaction is done via a wired moveable remote control store in the armrest. The Lufthansa system uses a touch screen (It also has some hard buttons for volume in the armrest). Overall the content on the Qantas system comprised of more content… Continue reading

This week work on our new lab space started πŸ™‚ With all the drilling and hammering leaving for CHI in Florence seemed like perfect timing. Our rooms are located in a listed historical building and hence planning is always a little bit more complicated but we are compensated by working in a really nice building.

As I was involved in the planning space for the lab we had the opportunity to integrate a space dedicated to large interactive surfaces where we can explore different options for interaction.

Seeing the process of planning and carrying out indoor building work ideas related… Continue reading

After the conference I had finally some time to try out my new XO Laptop (OLPC). It is fairly small, has a rubber keyboard and a very good screen. It can be used in laptop and e-book mode. A colleague described it as somewhere between a mobile phone and a notebook-computer – first I did not get it – but after using it I fully understand.

There is good documentation out – the getting started manual at laptop.org provides a very good entry point. Getting it up and running was really easy (finding the key for my WIFI-Access point at… Continue reading

We visited the archeology and Stone Age museum in Bad Buchenau http://www.federseemuseum.de/. For our visit we rented their audio guide system – they had one version for kids and one for adults. The audio guides were done very well and the information was well presented.

Nevertheless such devices break the joint experience of visiting a museum! We had three devices – and we stood next to each other listening but not talking to each other. Even though it may transport more information than the written signs it makes a poorer experience than reading and discussing. I wonder how one… Continue reading

Just talked to Matthias Kranz and he told me about an interesting MP3-Player module from http://www.roguerobotics.com – uMP3. It is not cheap but very versatile and it seems easy to use with a PIC. Looking at the documentation of the uMP3 I saw there is even a function to control the playback speed. It seems this is an interesting tool for prototyping and teaching labs!