Our PERCI Article in IEEE Internet Computing

Base on work we did together with DoCoMo Eurolabs in Munich we have published the article “Perci: Pervasive Service Interaction with the Internet of Things” in the IEEE Internet Computing special issue on the Internet of Things edited by Frédéric Thiesse and Florian Michahelles.

The paper discusses the linking of digital resources to the real world. We investigated how to augment everyday objects with RFID and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags to enable simpler ways for users to interact with service. We aim at creating a digital identities of real world objects and by this integrating them into the Internet of Things and associating them with digital information and services. In our experiments we explore how these objects can facilitate access to digital resources and support interaction with them-for example, through mobile devices that feature technologies for discovering, capturing, and using information from tagged objects. See [1] for the full article.

[1] Gregor Broll, Massimo Paolucci, Matthias Wagner, Enrico Rukzio, Albrecht Schmidt, and Heinrich Hußmann. Perci: Pervasive Service Interaction with the Internet of Things. IEEE Internet Computing. November/December 2009 (vol. 13 no. 6). pp. 74-81

Linking the activities in the physical world to actions in the digital/virtual

Currently we have an assignment in our Pervasive Computing class that asks students to design and develop a system where actions are associated with artifacts. Technically students should develop a web based solution using RFID. Apropos RFID, … if you look for a good introduction on RFID read Roy Want’s IEEE Pervasive Magazin paper [1].

We use the hardware from http://nabaztag.com/ (Ztamp:s and Mir:ror) as the focus is on the concept and application and not on the underlying technology. To ease development Florian and Ali have developed a little system that offers WebCallBacks (students can register a URL and that is called when a tag is read).

Linking by tagging of objects has been well explored, e.g. [2] and [3], and I think it is about time that this technologies will make an impact in the consumer market – the technology gets cheap enough now (and perhaps one of our students has a great idea).

Some years back (in the last millennium) a company tried to push linking of paper adverts and digital content with the CueCat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat) – I was impressed and inspired at that time but in my view it had two major weaknesses: (1) technically too early and (2) encoding of serial numbers instead of URLs. The RadioShack catalog and the Wired Magazine that included codes showed the potential – but it was too cumbersome as it was restricted to the PC …

We did some work on the topic, too around that time – at RFID reader integrated in a glove – which resulted in a Poster at ISWC [4] and a patent [5].

[1] Want, R. 2006. An Introduction to RFID Technology. IEEE Pervasive Computing 5, 1 (Jan. 2006), 25. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MPRV.2006.2

[2] Harrison, B. L., Fishkin, K. P., Gujar, A., Portnov, D., and Want, R. 1999. Bridging physical and virtual worlds with tagged documents, objects and locations. In CHI ’99 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 15 – 20, 1999). CHI ’99. ACM, New York, NY, 29-30. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/632716.632738

[3] Ljungstrand, P. and Holmquist, L. E. 1999. WebStickers: using physical objects as WWW bookmarks. In CHI ’99 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 15 – 20, 1999). CHI ’99. ACM, New York, NY, 332-333. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/632716.632916

[4] Schmidt, A., Gellersen, H., and Merz, C. 2000. Enabling Implicit Human Computer Interaction: A Wearable RFID-Tag Reader. In Proceedings of the 4th IEEE international Symposium on Wearable Computers (October 18 – 21, 2000). ISWC. IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, 193. (Poster as large PNG)

[5] US Patent 6614351 – Computerized system for automatically monitoring processing of objects. September 2, 2003. http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6614351/description.html

Steve Hinske defents his PhD Thesis at ETH Zurich

“Sounds like a fun project” was my first reaction when I read some time back the first paper on Steve‘s work on augmented toys and augmented games. Reading through his thesis and seeing more of his papers it seems there was a lot of hard work, too.

Thinking more about it I was wondering how toys are really going to change in the future and to what extent this is going to happen. Technically a lot is feasible as it is well demonstrated by Steve in his thesis (photo from www.vs.inf.ethz.ch); if you do not have time to read the thesis I recommend to look at two of his papers: [1] and [2]. They give a good overview of the systems he created. In the discussion we could see that there can be very interesting business model involving third party developers for such toys.

… but nevertheless the playing experience is something very special and I would bet the augmented toys will come but the ordinary non-augmented dolls will stay.

PS: The cafeteria at ETH provided another example of my collection “if you need a sign/label – you have got the UI design wrong” – great example how gestalt law would have been so easy and arrows look so bad 😉

[1] Hinske, S. and Langheinrich, M. 2009. W41K: digitally augmenting traditional game environments. In Proceedings of the 3rd international Conference on Tangible and Embedded interaction (Cambridge, United Kingdom, February 16 – 18, 2009). TEI ’09. ACM, New York, NY, 99-106. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1517664.1517691

[2] Hinske, S., Langheinrich, M., and Lampe, M. 2008. Towards guidelines for designing augmented toy environments. InProceedings of the 7th ACM Conference on Designing interactive Systems (Cape Town, South Africa, February 25 – 27, 2008). DIS ’08. ACM, New York, NY, 78-87. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1394445.1394454

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. http://www.mis.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/Publications/ubipost03.pdf

[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) http://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/EXPORT/PDF/publication/38445.pdf

[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 http://www.hcilab.org/events/pta2006/IEEE-PvM-b3091.pdf

[5] Vlad Coroama: The Smart Tachograph – Individual Accounting of Traffic Costs and Its Implications. Pervasive 2006: 135-152. http://www.vs.inf.ethz.ch/res/papers/coroama_pervasive2006.pdf

The real world is complex and fast – visit to a hospital

In contrast to us people in the medical domain seem to start early in the morning. In the process of preparing a project proposal we visited the Elisabeth Hospital in Essen. We got the chance to see some invasive heart exams first hand.

It is impressive how well such complex processes run and how quick the staff can assess the conditions. Looking for potential to make theses processes easier is a touch challenges – espcially if you do not do this by sitting at your desk but if you want it to be realistic. In the discussion with the head nurse it became apparent that user centred design is probably the only way to really make a difference.

Processes are structures but nevertheless the real world is complex and messy. One thing we saw even in our short visit is that technology introduced must not make things slower – not even a single step.

In our conclusion we found a number of interesting issues – in particular with regard to the electronic patient record – that are worth while to push forward.

Talk at the expert meeting on RFID and ubicomp

In Frankfurt there was today an expert meeting on RFID and ubicomp organized by the Fraunhofer ISI. The purpose was a discussion about the impact of RFID technologies. The organizers will use our input to inform the creation of a document of technology assessment for the German parliament. The majority of the participants came from companies developing RFID technology or system.
In the first part of my talk “RFID and Beyond” I highlighted results from two workshops where I was a co-organizer: PTA2006 and Pertec2007 held at the Pervasive and Percom conferences. The results were also published in 2 papers in the IEEE Pervasive Computing magazine, see [1] and [2]. After this I showed some future visions and scenarios, namely the Smart-Its & MediaCup (foto from Birgit at Teco) [3], the SensorKnife [4], and the aware goods project [5]. Michael Müller extended the idea of the first aware goods project with a mobile phone based prototype – which we still have not written up for publication.

For me the technology assessment in Germany seems still often very much centred on threats and looks much less at opportunities. Looking at developments in Asia and in particular in Korea (e.g. U-City) I hope politics in Germany will in the future more often see the positive sides, too. Technology assessment can become a means to find opportunities and ideas to support innovation. For me it seems that a lot of the risks people attribute to RFID are not based on scientific results – is appears rather media induced… Positive cases such as wireless key systems and transport tickets (basically RFID technology) are in widespread use without much problems and great value for users – but not present in the public discussion.

One interesting estimated was that about 200 parts of the several thousands (e.g. safety related parts, large parts, parts that are often stolen, expensive parts) per car will tagged with RFID in the next 10 years to ease logistics, production and maintenance.

[1] Schmidt, A.; Spiekermann, S.; Gershman, A.; Michahelles, F., “Real-World Challenges of Pervasive Computing“, Pervasive Computing, IEEE , vol.5, no.3pp. 91- 93, c3, July-Sept. 2006.

[2] Michahelles, F.; Thiesse, F.; Schmidt, A.; Williams, J. R.: Pervasive RFID and Near Field Communication Technology. In: IEEE Pervasive Computing, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 94-96, c3, Jul., 2007.

[3] Hans-Werner Gellersen, Albrecht Schmidt, Michael Beigl: Multi-Sensor Context-Awareness in Mobile Devices and Smart Artifacts. MONET 7(5): 341-351 (2002)

[4] Matthias Kranz, Albrecht Schmidt, Alexis Maldonado, Radu Bogdan Rusu, Michael Beetz, Benedikt Hörnler, Gerhard Rigoll: Context-aware kitchen utilities. Tangible and Embedded Interaction 2007: 213-214

[5] Anke Thede, Albrecht Schmidt, Christian Merz: Integration of Goods Delivery Supervision into E-commerce Supply Chain. WELCOM 2001: 206-218