More on Embedded Development Tools, Watch to program

In my digital systems design class we have used the eZ430-F2013 development kits – they are cheap (about 20 €) and most students get it working 🙂

I have seen TI has a new development kit which is really interesting: “eZ430-Chronos Wireless Watch Development Tool” – Could be an useful basis for wearable computing projects – perhaps we should get them for the class on pervasive computing next term?

The TI commercial is on youtube:

Some years back IBM had a Linux watch as research platform. Gábor Blaskó published some concepts and protoytpes on how to interact with a watch computer, e.g. with strokes [1] or with a string [2].

[1] Gábor Blaskó and Steven Feiner. An Interaction System for Watch Computers Using Tactile Guidance and Bidirectional Segmented Strokes. Proc. 8th IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC 2004), Arlington, VA, USA, 31 October – 3 November, 2004. pp.120-123.

[2] Gábor Blaskó, Chandra Narayanaswami, Steven Feiner. Prototyping Retractable String-Based Interaction Techniques for Dual-Display Mobile Devices. Proc. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2006), Montreal, Québec, Canada, 22 – 27 April, 2006. pp.369-372.

Talk at Java User Group Meeting in Essen, Embedded Development

This month at the Java User Group meeting some groups of the University presented their research. First I considered to talk about JAVA on mobile phones (e.g. the tutorials we do with teachers on JAVA ME or JAVA on Android) but then decided to talk more about the ubicomp vision and about how I think computing will change and is already changing the world 🙂 My talk “Ubiquitous Computing and Beyond – Mobile Communication changed the world – what else do we need?” was aimed at opening a discussion what will be the challenge after mobile computing is becoming main stream.

One of the questions was: what are useful platforms to start for with embedded development? Here are a few suggestions:

Tangible, Embedded, and Reality-Based Interaction

Together with Antonio’s group we looked at new forms of interaction beyond the desktop. The journal paper Tangible, Embedded, and Reality-Based Interaction [1] gives overview and examples of recent trends in human computer interaction and is a good starting point to learn about these topics.

Abstract: Tangible, embedded, and reality-based interaction are among novel concepts of interaction design that will change our usage of computers and be part of our daily life in coming years. In this article, we present an overview of the research area of tangible, embedded, and reality-based interaction as an area of media informatics. Potentials and challenges are demonstrated with four selected case studies from our research work.

[1] Tanja Döring, Antonio Krüger, Albrecht Schmidt, Johannes Schöning: Tangible, Embedded, and Reality-Based Interaction. it – Information Technology 51 (2009) 6 , S. 319-324. (pdf)

What can you alarm clock do? Platform for the bedside table

I have learned about Chumby an interesting platform that is designed to replace devices on your bedside table. Looking forward to get one or some when I fly next time to the US.

For a design competion at the appliance design conference I did a design concept for a networked alarm clock [1] assuming that networked device will be soon cheaply available. Maybe we should look at the paper again and think about how to push such ideas forward as the devices are on the market…

[1] Schmidt, A. 2006. Network alarm clock (The 3AD International Design Competition). Personal Ubiquitous Computing Journal. 10, 2-3 (Jan. 2006), 191-192. DOI=

Workshops at Informatik 2008 in Munich, e-ink prediction

Yesterday there was a workshop on Mobile and Embedded Interaction as part of Informatik2008 in Munich. The talks and discussions were very interesting. Lucia and Thomas raised interesting issues on a new notion of personal computing, where the mobile device becomes the center of a personal computing infrastructure. This idea has been around for some time (e.g. Roy Wants Personal Server [1]) but the new ideas and the feasibility with current hardware makes it really an exciting topic. On the general topic there are many open questions, as visible on the slide.

After the workshop, when swapping business cards, we started the discussion when in the future we will have business cards (in larger quantities, to give away) that have active display elements (e.g. eInk) included. Everyone gave a predictions in how many years we will have it (Lucia Terrenghi:never; Raimund Dachselt:7; Thomas Lang: business card will disappear; Albrecht Schmidt:9; Heiko Drewes:10; Florian Echtler:5; Michael Rohs:5; Paul Holleis:5). Lets get back in 5 years and see… In September 2008 the Esquire Magazine featured an e-ink cover page – have not seen it myself:-( but there is a video:

Today we organized a workshop on Software, Services and Platforms for new infrastructures in telecommunication. We had a set of really interesting talks. As I did my PhD on context-awareness I was quite impressed by work on context oriented programming and the advances over the last years in this domain (good starting point on the topic with some publications [2]).

At the end of the workshop I gave the following scenario as an impulse for discussion: image there are 10 million facebook users that contniouly stream the video of what they see into the net, e.g. using eagle-i. The discussion raise many technical as well as social challenges!

[1] Want, R., Pering, T., Danneels, G., Kumar, M., Sundar, M., and Light, J. 2002. The Personal Server: Changing the Way We Think about Ubiquitous Computing. In Proceedings of the 4th international Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (Göteborg, Sweden, September 29 – October 01, 2002). G. Borriello and L. E. Holmquist, Eds. Lecture Notes In Computer Science, vol. 2498. Springer-Verlag, London, 194-209.


PS: there are few photos as someone in the workshop today objected to be on the net…

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.

Ali joined our group

Last month Aliresa Sahami finished his master thesis on multi-tactile interaction at BIT Bonn and joined our group in Essen. Ali worked for me a student resesearch assistant at Fraunhofer IAIS. During his studies in Bonn we published an interesting workshop paper on mobile health [1] and gave a related demo at Ubicomp [2].

[1] Alt, F., Sahami Shirazi, A., Schmidt, A. Monitoring Heartbeat per Day to Motivate Increasing Physical Activity. Ubiwell workshop at Ubicomp 2007.

[2] Sahami Shirazi, A.; Cheng, D.; Kroell, O.; Kern, D.; Schmidt, A.: CardioViz: Contextual Capture and Visualization for Long-term ECG Data. In: Adjunct Proceedings of Ubicomp 2007.

Work on our new lab space started – ideas for intelligent building material

This week work on our new lab space started 🙂 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 to smart building materials inevitably spring to mind. Much work goes into communication between different people involved in the process and into establishing and communicating the current status (structure, power routing, ventilation shafts, insulation, etc.) of the building. When imagine that brick, fixture, panel, screw and cable used could provide information about its position and status we could create valuable applications. Obviously always based on the assumption that computing and communication gets cheaper… I think it could be an interesting student project to systematically assess what building material would most benefit from sensing (or self-awareness) and processing and what applications this would enable; and in a second step create and validate a prototype.

Press-releases for TEI’08 – explaining the idea

We have two press releases to announce TEI’08 – the second international conference on tangible and embedded interaction (in German only).

The first one is a general announcement with the invitation to the press conference: Internationale Konferenz zu neuen Möglichkeiten der Mensch-Maschine-Interaktion

The second one is explaining – in non-scientific terms – the idea of tangible and embedded interaction: Der Wetterfrosch im Regenschirm