On the way into town we got a really good price for the taxi (just make a mental note never to negotiate something with Florian and Alireza at the same time 😉 It seems taxi driving is sort of boring – he too watched television while driving (like the taxi driver some weeks ago in Amsterdam). I think we should seriously think more about entertainment for micro breaks because I still think it is for a good reason not allowed to watch TV while driving.

Seoul is an amazing place. There are many digital signs and electronic adverts. Walking back… Continue reading

BJ Fogg gave the opening keynote at mobile HCI 2008 in Amsterdam. The talk explained very well the concept of Captology (computers as persuasive technologies) and the newer projects are very inspiring. He put the following questions at the center: How can machines change people’s minds and hearts? How can you automate persuasion? His current focus is on behavior change.

He reported of a class he is teaching at Stanford on designing facebook applications. The metric for success (and on this students are marked) is the uptake of the created application over the time of the course. He reported… Continue reading

Together with Jonna Hakkila’s group (currently run by Jani Mantyjarvi) we had a two day workshop at Nokia in Oulu discussion the next big thing* 😉* motto on the Nokia research centers web page

It seems that many people share the observation that emotions and culture play a more and more important role in the design of services and applications – even outside the research labs. One evening we looked for the Finnish experience… (photo by Paul)

Overall the workshop showed again how many ideas can be created in a very short time – hopefully we can follow up some… Continue reading

Jonna Hakkila (Nokia), Jani Mantyjarvi (Nokia & VTT), and I discussed last year how we can improve the doctoral studies of our students and we decided to organize a small workshop to discuss PhD topics.

As Jonna is currently on maternity leave and officially not working we ran the workshop at VTT in Oulu.

The topics varied widely from basic user experience to user interface related security. There was very interesting work the participants did and published. I have selected the following 2 as reading suggestions: [1] by Elina Vartiainen and [2] by Anne Kaikkonen.

We hope we gave some… Continue reading

[see the whole set of photos from tour to North Korea]

From Gwangju we took the bus shortly after midnight to go for a trip to North Korea. The students did a great job in organizing ISUVR and the trip. It was great to have again some time to talk to Yoosoo Oh, who was a visiting researcher in Munich in our group.

When entering North Korea there are many rules, including that you are not allowed to take cameras with tele-lenses over 160mm (so I had to take only the 50mm lens) and you must not… Continue reading

Norbert Streitz – Trade-off for creating smartness

Norbert gave an interesting overview of research in the domain of ubicomp based on his personal experience – from Xerox PARC to the disappearing computer. He motivated the transition from Information Design to Experience Design. Throughout the work we see a trade-off between providing “smart support” to the user and “privacy” (or control over privacy). One of the questions if we will re-invent privacy or if it will become a commodity… As one of the concrete examples Norbert introduced the Hello.Wall done in the context Ambient Agoras [1]. This again brought up the… Continue reading

The first day of the symposium was exciting and we saw a wide range of contributions from context-awareness to machine vision. In following I have a few random notes on some of the talks…

Thad Starner, new idea on BCIThad Starner gave a short history of his experience with wearable computing. He argued that common mobile keyboards (e.g. mini-querty, multi-tap, T9) are fundamentally not suited real mobile tasks. He showed the studies of typing with the twiddler – the data is impressive. He is arguing for cording keyboards and generally he suggests that “Typing while walking is easier… Continue reading

Yesterday I arrived in Gwangju for the ISUVR-2008. It is my first time in Korea and it is an amazing place. Together with some of the other invited speakers and PhD students we went for a Korean style dinner (photos from the dinner). The campus (photos from the campus) is large and very new.

This morning we had the opportunity to see several demos from Woontack’s students in the U-VR lab. There is a lot of work on haptics and mobile augmented reality going on. See the pictures of the open lab demo for… Continue reading

Today I was at CDTM in Munich (http://www.cdtm.de/) to give a lecture to introduce Pervasive Computing. It was a great pleasure that I was invited again after last year’s visit. We discussed no less than how new computing technologies are going to change our lives and how we as developers are going to shape parts of the future. As everyone is aware there are significant challenges ahead – one is personal travel and I invited students to join our summer factory (basically setting up a company / team to create a news mobility platform). If you are interested,… 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 😉 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

Attention is precious and there is a clear fight for it. This is very easy to observe on advertising boards and in news shops. Coming back from Berlin I went in Augsburg into the news agent to get a news paper – and not really looking at magazines is still discovered from the corner of my eyes an issue of FHM with a changing cover page. Technically it is very simple: a lenticular lens that presents and image depending on the viewing angle – alternating between 3 pictures – one of which is a full page advert (for details on… Continue reading

Over the last day I have experienced that very basic location information in the display can already provide a benefit to the user. Being the first time in Sydney I realized that network information of my GSM-phone is very reliable to tell me when to get off the bus – obviously it is not fine grain location information but so far always walking distance. At some locations (such as Bondi beach) visual pattern matching works very well, too 😉 And when to get off the bus seems a concern to many people (just extrapolating from the small sample I had… Continue reading

Yesterday night I flew to Hamburg and traveled on to Lübeck – a quite nice town in the north of Germany – for the program committee meeting of Mensch und Computer 2008. This morning I got up a little earlier to walk around the city – as it was my first time visiting. The building I could see when walking into town however was oddly familiar, after some moments I recalled that it is the Holstentor which was pictured on the 50DM note (DM = German Mark – the money used in Germany till 2001 before we exchanged it… Continue reading

On Sunday afternoon I flew to Florence and we met up in the evening with former colleagues – CHI always feels like a school reunion 😉 and it is great to get first hand reports on what everyone is working currently. On the plane I met Peter Thomas (editor of Ubquitous Computing Journal) and we talked about the option of a special issue on automotive…

We have rented a house in the Tuscany Mountains together with Antonio’s group and collaborators from BMW research and T-Labs. Even though we have to commute into Florence everyday it is just great that we… Continue reading

After having frost and snow yesterday morning in Germany being in Porto (Portugal) is quite a treat. The KDubiq application workshop is in parallel to the summer school and yesterday evening it was interesting to meet up with some people teaching there.

The more I learn about data mining and machine learning the more I see even greater potential in many ubicomp application domains. In my talk “Ubicomp Applications and Beyond – Research Challenges and Visions” I looked back at selected applications and systems that we have developed over the last 10 year (have a look at the… Continue reading

What have learned to do when our computer or phone does not work anymore? Easy just reboot it. A colleague recently told me his rental car broke down (basically did not work anymore) but after resetting it, it worked fine again. When he told me I found this pretty strange – ok the radio or opening the car boot – but essential functions related to driving?

Today I was travelling on an ICE high-speed train to Amsterdam for the CHI-Notes committee meeting and shortly after we left Germany the train lost speed and became slower and just rolled out. Then… Continue reading

I have been at Trinity College in Dublin today as external member of the MSc exam board. While reading MSc dissertations I learned at lot of interesting things. Here are two pointers to technologies which I like to share (they may be useful in further projects):

SUMO – Simulation of Urban Mobility: An open source traffic simulation packagehttp://sumo.sourceforge.net/

Small computing platform: http://gumstix.com/

At the Fraunhofer retreat in Westerburg we had very interesting discussions on research and research strategies in computer science. The span of excellent research in computer science is enormous ranging from theoretical work (e.g. math style proofs), to engineering type work (e.g. systems), to experimental and empirical work (e.g. studies). This makes it really challenging to find a common notion of “excellent research”. This reminds me of an interesting book which I started to read (recommended to me at the retreat): In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best Run Companies by Robert H Waterman et al. – so far… Continue reading

I am teaching a guest course at the University of Linz in the Pervasive Computing master program. The topic is Unconventional User Interaction – User Interfaces in a Pervasive Computing World (http://www.ubicomp.net/uui). Today we started with an introduction to motivate how pervasive computing changes human computer interaction. I am already looking forward to the projects!

At dinner I learned why you can never have enough forks in a good restaurant. In case you loose your pen for the mobile phone a fork will do… The topic of the lecture is everywhere!

I often wonder why one would like to include sensing into other objects. It seems however that there is a tradition and has its roots before the digital 🙂

The pencil case has a thermometer included. The function is that the pupil can figure out when they get the rest of the day off due to high temperature (Hitzefrei). Not convinced that is was a great seller…

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

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… Continue reading

I was at ETH Zurich for the PhD defence of Nagendra Bhargava Bharatula. His thesis is on context-aware wearable nodes and in particular on the trade-offs in design and the design space of these devices.

The tour in Prof. Tröster’s lab was very impressive. It is a very active and probably one of the largest groups world wide doing research in wearable computing. It seams that wearable computing is getting more real, many scenarios and demonstrators are much more realistic and useful than several years ago.

In the backmanager project Corinne Mattmann works on a shirt that measures body posture.… Continue reading

It is always great to visit the pervasive computing labs in Linz – always new and cool research to see. Looking at my my Google News-Alert it seems that the term “pervasive” is dominate by Alois 🙂

Alois Ferscha showed me their interaction cube. It is a really interesting piece of research and the background and argument of the cinematic of the hand shows a deep insight. There are some slides on the Telekom Austria Cube that are worthwhile to look at. It is interesting that he has gone successfully the full cycle from concept to product (image is taken… Continue reading

This Morning Mario Pichler defended his PhD dissertation at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz. One central theme he investigated in his research was how innovation happens between technology push and application/market pull. It is scientifically a very interesting argument when looking at applied research. However considering successful products, especially products from Asia and in particular Korea, it appears that focusing on technology innovation can be a strong and successful strategy.

In the ubicomp community it seems that technology driven projects are seen very critical and that there seems to be a need to justify ubicomp research with applications. The… Continue reading

It was interesting to see that smart objects / smart object services, context, NFC, and RFID become very mainstream. It seems that nearly everyone buys into these ideas now.

Dr. Mohsen Darianian (from Nokia Research, same building as Paul Holleis is at the moment) showed an NFC-advert video which reminded me on the results of an exercise we did on concept videos within an HCI-class at the University of Munich 🙂

Overall it seems that acceptance and business models are of great interest and that to create them a lot of technical insight is required. The issues related to user… Continue reading

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… Continue reading

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 ;-).

The internatonal conference on pervasive computing in Toronto had an exiting program.

The keynote was by Adam Greenfield on “Everyware: Some Social and Ethical Implications of Ubiquitous Computing” – matching a number of issues we discussed the day before at the doctoral colloquium. The talk was enjoyable even though I think some of the statements made, in particular with regard to opting out and informing the users (e.g. logos) are over-simplified. Furthermore the fact that our society and its values are changing was very little reflected, e.g. privacy is not a constant.

The best paper (by Rene Mayerhofer and Hans… Continue reading