Congratulation to Dr. Florian Alt (No. 6)

Florian Alt defended his PhD thesis “A Design Space for Pervasive Advertising on Public Displays” at the University of Stuttgart. Over the last years Florian work at the crossroads of interactive public displays and pervasive advertising. His research output during the last years and while working on the project was amazing, see his DBLP entry.

The dissertation will be soon available online. If you are curious about his work right now, there are a few papers or a book you should read. A high level description of the findings is described in a paper published in IEEE Computer on Advertising on Public Display Networks [1]. The initial paper that paved the way towards understanding design space of public displays [2] is providing a comprehensive descriptions of ways for interaction with public displays. One of the highlights of the experimental research is the paper “Looking glass: a field study on noticing interactivity of a shop window” [3], which was done during Florian’s time at Telekom Innovation Laboratories in Berlin (it received a best paper award at CHI 2012). Towards the end of the thesis everyone realizes that evaluation is a most tricky thing, hence there is one paper on “How to evaluate public displays” [4]. If you are more interested on the advertising side, have a look at the book he co-edited with Jörg Müller and Daniel Michelis: Pervasive Advertising by Springer Verlag, 2011, available as kindle version at Amazon.

Florian joined my research group already back in Munich as a student researcher, where we explored ubiquitous computing technologies in a hospital environment [5]. He followed to Fraunhofer IAIS to do his MSc thesis, where he created a web annotation system that allowed parasitic applications on the WWW [6]. I nearly believed him lost, when he moved to New York – but he came back to start his PhD in Duisburg-Essen… and after one more move in 2011 to the University of Stuttgart he graduated last week! Congratulations! He is no. 6 following Dagmar Kern, Heiko Drewes, Paul Holleis, Matthias Kranz, and Enrico Rukzio. The photo shows the current team in Stuttgart – when looking at the picture it seems there are soon more to come 😉

[1] Alt, F.; Schmidt, A.; Müller, J.; , “Advertising on Public Display Networks,” Computer , vol.45, no.5, pp.50-56, May 2012. DOI: 10.1109/MC.2012.150, URL:
[2] Jörg Müller, Florian Alt, Daniel Michelis, and Albrecht Schmidt. 2010. Requirements and design space for interactive public displays. In Proceedings of the international conference on Multimedia (MM ’10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1285-1294. DOI=10.1145/1873951.1874203
[3] Jörg Müller, Robert Walter, Gilles Bailly, Michael Nischt, and Florian Alt. 2012. Looking glass: a field study on noticing interactivity of a shop window. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 297-306. DOI=10.1145/2207676.2207718
[4] Florian Alt, Stefan Schneegaß, Albrecht Schmidt, Jörg Müller, and Nemanja Memarovic. 2012. How to evaluate public displays. In Proceedings of the 2012 International Symposium on Pervasive Displays (PerDis ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, , Article 17 , 6 pages. DOI=10.1145/2307798.2307815
[5] A. Schmidt, F. Alt, D. Wilhelm, J. Niggemann,  and H. Feussner,  Experimenting with ubiquitous computing technologies in productive environments. Journal Elektrotechnik und Informationstechnik. 2006, 135-139.
[6] Florian Alt, Albrecht Schmidt, Richard Atterer, and Paul Holleis. 2009. Bringing Web 2.0 to the Old Web: A Platform for Parasitic Applications. In Proceedings of the 12th IFIP TC 13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Part I (INTERACT ’09). Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 405-418. DOI=10.1007/978-3-642-03655-2_44

Congratulations to Frau Doktor Dagmar Kern for a great PhD defense (No. 5)

Dagmar Kern has successfully defended her PhD on “Supporting the Development Process of Multimodal and Natural Automotive User Interfaces” in Essen. External examiner was Antonio Krüger from University of Saarbrücken. Her dissertation will be available online soon. The core contribution of the thesis is the investigation of how to improve a user centered design process for automotive user interfaces. In order to systematically assess user interface designs in cars she developed a design space (inspired by Card et al [5]). In various cases studies she create novel in-car user interfaces and explored experimentally the implications on driver distraction.

Dagmar started working with me as a student of Media Informatics at the LMU Munich in 2005, then jointed my group at Fraunhofer IAIS/BIT in Bonn and move in 2007 with the group to Essen. She was for a short research stay in Saarbrücken and Milton Keynes and was extremely productive over the last years – 18 publications she co-authored are listed in DBLP and here are some highlights of here research:

  • exploration of how to present navigation information (e.g. vibra tactile steering wheel) [1]
  • gazemarks – an approach to aid attention switching between the road and an in car display using eye gaze date [2]
  • a multi-touch steering wheel, that reduced driver distraction [3]
  • a design space for automotive user interfaces [4]

Additionally to the publications one of the side products of here thesis is the CARS open source driving simulator. It is a configurable low cost simulator that can be used to measure driver distraction, e.g. as an alternative to LCT.

Dagmar’s defense brought us back to Essen and it was great to meet many colleagues again. We finally managed to have a group photo taken with nearly all the team (Elba is missing in the Photo).

The doctoral hat may look strange to non-Germans but it has some funny tradition. It is hand crafted by the colleagues and each of the items on the hat tells a story – usually known to the group but in the best case hard to guess for outsiders. Besides others Dagmar’s hat included a scrap heap of cars, a giraffe, a personal vibration device, a yoyo, a railway station building side, and a steering wheel cover.

[1] Dagmar Kern, Paul Marshall, Eva Hornecker, Yvonne Rogers, and Albrecht Schmidt. 2009. Enhancing Navigation Information with Tactile Output Embedded into the Steering Wheel. InProceedings of the 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing (Pervasive ’09). Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 42-58. DOI=10.1007/978-3-642-01516-8_5 (free PDF)

[2] Dagmar Kern, Paul Marshall, and Albrecht Schmidt. 2010. Gazemarks: gaze-based visual placeholders to ease attention switching. In Proceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI ’10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2093-2102. DOI=10.1145/1753326.1753646 (free PDF)

[3] Tanja Döring, Dagmar Kern, Paul Marshall, Max Pfeiffer, Johannes Schöning, Volker Gruhn, and Albrecht Schmidt. 2011. Gestural interaction on the steering wheel: reducing the visual demand. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI ’11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 483-492. DOI=10.1145/1978942.1979010 (free PDF)

[4] Dagmar Kern and Albrecht Schmidt. 2009. Design space for driver-based automotive user interfaces. In Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications (AutomotiveUI ’09). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 3-10. DOI=10.1145/1620509.1620511 (free PDF)

[5] Stuart K. Card, Jock D. Mackinlay, and George G. Robertson. 1991. A morphological analysis of the design space of input devices. ACM Trans. Inf. Syst. 9, 2 (April 1991), 99-122. DOI=10.1145/123078.128726

Heiko Drewes defended his PhD – Congratulations! (No. 4)

Heiko worked the last 6 years towards his PhD. He did a lot of things during this time – and even though not everything was on his PhD topic – I think the time was well spent, e.g. some visually interesting things came out [1].

The core of his PhD was on eye gaze as an additional modality for human computer interaction and it is worthwhile to read the thesis (which will be available in a few weeks) – till than you can have a look at the following papers. [2] describes a system that positions the mouse pointer on touching the mouse to the location on the screen where look at; [3] introduces the concept of gaze gestures – gestures done with the eyes. There is an interesting alt.chi paper coming on Fitts’ law (don’t start Heiko on this ;-).

In the evening Raphael showed me his interactive surface prototype [4] – it is really big :-). He is also co-organizing a course on Sketching with Hardware.

[1] Heiko Drewes. Yara – Yet Another Random Art.

[2] Drewes, H. and Schmidt, A. 2009. The MAGIC Touch: Combining MAGIC-Pointing with a Touch-Sensitive Mouse. In Proceedings of the 12th IFIP TC 13 international Conference on Human-Computer interaction: Part II (Uppsala, Sweden, August 24 – 28, 2009). Lecture Notes In Computer Science, vol. 5727. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 415-428. DOI=

[3] Heiko Drewes, Albrecht Schmidt. 2007. Interacting with the Computer using Gaze Gestures. In Proceedings of the 11th IFIP TC13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, INTERACT 2007, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 2007, ISBN 978-3-540-74794-9, DOI=

[4] Raphael Wimmer, Florian Schulz, Fabian Hennecke, Sebastian Boring, Heinrich Hussmann. Curve: Blending Horizontal and Vertical Interactive Surfaces. Adjunct Proceedings of the 4th IEEE Workshop on Tabletops and Interactive Surfaces (IEEE Tabletop 2009), Banff, Canada, Nov. 2009

PhD Defense of Elina Vartiainen

Finland is one country in Europe were it seems pretty hard to get to in the morning from Germany or Austria. If you have a meeting before 11 am you have to fly the day before.

I was invited to Helsinki to be opponent (together with Kaisa Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila) for the PhD defense of Elina Vartiainen at Helsinki University of Technology. The first time I came across work she was involved in was at CHI 2006 in Montreal. She worked with Virpi Roto on the Minimap web browser [1]. Last year in a doctoral colloquium in Finland we first discussed some of her work and I was excited to read it in more detail for the PhD exam.

Dissertations in practical areas of computer science that are done in company research labs are at the same time limited and exciting. What can be done is often limited by the company needs but on the other hand it offers the great opportunity to get things out large scale and collect experiences from many users (e.g. you may want to check the ImageExchange project, where the studies were also part of Elina’s dissertation).

I like the finnish system of having a long public defense. We discussed about 3 hours with Elina and I enjoyed it 🙂

There are two general but important issues I think I take away from our discussion:

  1. do question the research process including the steps (e.g. hardware first or applications first), the approach (e.g. human need centred vs. design driven) and the setup of the teams (who is needed to get a successful product? Business, law, design, hardware?).
  2. innovation for web services on a global scale comes not from a single company or small set of highly skilled developers. Creating opportunities for a larger number developers (with skills limited skills, e.g. like web development) will be the key to create all the applications people need all over the world. Having a single instance controlling what can be developed does scale.

Guess what was the first web browser on a mobile device I used on a mobile device? It was an Apple Messagepad – and the browser was PocketWeb developed at TecO in Karlsruhe (where I worked from 1998-2001), see [2] and

[1] Roto, V., Popescu, A., Koivisto, A., and Vartiainen, E. 2006. Minimap: a web page visualization method for mobile phones. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Montréal, Québec, Canada, April 22 – 27, 2006). R. Grinter, T. Rodden, P. Aoki, E. Cutrell, R. Jeffries, and G. Olson, Eds. CHI ’06. ACM, New York, NY, 35-44. DOI=

[2] Stefan Gessler and Andreas Kotulla. PDAs as mobile WWW browsers. Proceedings of the Second World Wide Web Conference ’94: Mosaic and the Web. Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1994.

Andreas Riener defends his PhD in Linz

After a stop-over in Stansted/Cambridge at the TEI conference I was today in Linz, Austria, as external for the PhD defense of Andreas Riener. He did his PhD with Alois Ferscha and worked on implicit interaction in the car. The set and size of experiments he did is impressive and he has two central results. (1) using tactile output in the car can really improve the car to driver communication and reduce reaction time. And (2) by sensing the force pattern a body creates on the seat driving relates activities can be detected and to some extend driver identification can be performed. For more details it makes sense to have a look into the thesis 😉 If you mail Andreas he will probably sent you the PDF…
One of the basic assumptions of the work was to use implicit interaction (on input and output) to lower the cognitive load while driving – which is defiantly a valid approach. Recently however we also discussed more the issues that arise when the cognitive load for drivers is to low (e.g. due to assistive systems in the car such as ACC and lane keeping assistance). There is an interesting phenomenon, the Yerkes-Dobson Law (see [1]), that provides the foundation for this. Basically as the car provides more sophisticated functionality and requires less attention of the user the risk increase as the basic activation of the driver is lower. Here I think looking into multimodality to activate the user more quickly in situations where the driver is required to take over responsibility could be interesting – perhaps we find a student interested in this topic.
[1] (there is a link to the 1908 publication by Yerkes, & Dodson)

No 3 ;-) Paul defends his PhD – Congratulations!

Paul Holleis defended today his PhD thesis on “Integrating Usability Models into Pervasive Application Development” in Munich – My No.3. He worked together with Matthias on the DFG project “Embedded Interaction”. Paul is now with Docomo Eurolabs in Munich.

The set of publication Paul produced is impressive – you probably don’t have time to read all of them 😉 but at least take a look at the following ones: an extension to KLM for mobile phones [1], an integrated development environment that includes usability models [2], and a explorative study in wearable computing [3].

In Germany we have a tradition to make a hat for the candidate. Paul’s hat has items on it that insiders can interpret, including a world map with bikes, miniature TEI’07 proceedings, Birkenstock shoes, a key with a label “Amsterdam”, a display, a phone, a yoyo, a control unit for vibration motors, 4 flags of town, and some context-aware plug-and-play hardware (and obviously batteries).
[1] Holleis, P., Otto, F., Hussmann, H., and Schmidt, A. 2007. Keystroke-level model for advanced mobile phone interaction. InProceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (San Jose, California, USA, April 28 – May 03, 2007). CHI ’07. ACM, New York, NY, 1505-1514. DOI=
[2] P. Holleis, A. Schmidt: MakeIt: Integrate User Interaction Times in the Design Process of Mobile Applications. 6th International Conference on Pervasive Computing (Pervasive’08), Sydney, Australia, May 2008
[3] Holleis, P., Schmidt, A., Paasovaara, S., Puikkonen, A., and Häkkilä, J. 2008. Evaluating capacitive touch input on clothes. InProceedings of the 10th international Conference on Human Computer interaction with Mobile Devices and Services(Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 02 – 05, 2008). MobileHCI ’08. ACM, New York, NY, 81-90. DOI=