Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas 2016


Look inside your envelope,

the Christmas card should have them all:

Wooden wheel, a snowflake, too.

Copper things, we have a few.

Resistor, light, they’re all brand new,

a paper cut out with a view.


To bring the gift of light,

for every winter night.

You will need the following pieces for the first assembly part:

four copper strips (two long, two short), LED, resistor, wooden rim, wooden plug and the black piece of paper.


Slide in the LED,

into the holes that be.

Long leg positioned through the oak,

on the left side of the thickest spoke.

First, insert the LED into the two holes on the wooden rim. The longer leg of the LED goes into the left hole, when the thickest spoke points away from you.


Resistor needs to be installed,

’cause, otherwise, it will explode.

Remember the longer diode leg,

it connects to the pole that adds (+).

Bend the legs towards the other side of the spoke and attach the resistor to one of the legs. Make sure it is tightly connected. Remember the position of the longer leg for later on. 


Onto the wooden ring,

attach with copper string.

Wrap around the leggy bit,

the extra strings will make it fit.

Now it is time to attach the copper strings to the rim. Carefully place the two longer copper strips on both sides of the thick spoke using the adhesive side. Twist it around the LED legs and use the short strips to fixate it. CAUTION: the adhesive side does not conduct electricity, so make sure the other side is attached to the LED legs.


The gluey side just won’t conduct,

hence wires must be nicely tucked.

Repeat the same step for the second leg. When finished, the result should look similar to the picture above.


Plus pole connects to long diode leg,

make sure this is correct.

Conductive strips for the plug,

need to be edge-snug.

Connect the plug to the two stripes using the small piece of black paper to keep the strips separated. Make sure to connect the longer LED leg to the plus pole (marked on the plug). If you followed all steps up until now, you can simply connect it as shown above. The strips attached to the plug should be spaced as far apart as possible (on both side), but must not overlap over the ledge.


Attach the plug you just might,

and you have a working light.

You may want to test your Christmas lantern for now. Plug it into a USB-charger and check if the LED lights up. If not, check the wiring, especially the connection between LED legs and copper strips. Consider checking for correct polarity. Do not despair if your light does not work. You can still proceed and build the final lantern.


The lantern stands on wooden feet,

and then you join the paper sheets.

Be aware of text alignment,

else you prolong the assignment.

Now it is time to make it look like a lantern. Attach the feet to the wooden rim and connect the two paper ornaments. Check the text orientation before connecting both pieces. Be sure to insert the paper hooks as shown in the picture for a stable and round lantern.


And now it’s time to mount the screen,

it wraps around the wooden rim.

Slide the transparent paper into the lantern. For best visual results, position the fold in front of the overlap.


The snowflake goes on top,

ensure that room lights are now off.

Position the quadratic transparent paper on top of the lantern and add the snowflake ornament.


Now it’s time to plug it in,

and pour yourself a Christmas drink.


Highlights 2016!

Congratulations to our PhDs

This year we had 6 people finishing their PhD – the highest number for a single year till now – congratulations!


Exciting new Projects

In 2016 we started a number of new projects:


Event Highlight

Our lab says “Merry Christmas” 2012!

Dear colleagues and friends,

we hope you received your exclusive hcilab ornament construction kit. In order to fully enjoy the hcilab Christmas experience, 7 quick steps will guide you through the rather intuitive assembly:

The target result:
The target result.

The Christmassy ingredients:
The target result.

Step 1a: Free the tree!
The target result.

Step 1b: Bolden the golden!
The target result.

Step 1c: Take a breath!
The target result.

Step 2: Assemble the tree!
The target result.

Step 3a: Assemble the globe (1st stay)!
The target result.

Step 3b: Assemble the globe (2nd stay)!
The target result.

Step 3c: Connect the stays using the disks!
The target result.

Step 4a: Put the tree in the middle!
The target result.
The target result. The target result.

Step 5a: Put in the remaining stays (3rd stay)!
The target result.

Step 5b: Put in the remaining stays (4th stay)!
The target result.

Step 6: Hook it!
The target result.

Step 7: That’s it. Celebrate!
The target result.

We are curious about your end result and are keen to receive a picture of the final version of your ornament. Feel free to email it to us or to link it in a blog comment.

The year 2012 was very exciting and we more than appreciate your every involvement with us! As an additional treat we have attached to this Christmas packet a quick overview which lists several projects and topics in the field of human computer interaction we have been working on.
In that sense, we have continued to work on Public Displays networks. The following publications give an overview of some of the directions we took this year:

  1. Davies, N., Langheinrich, M., José, R., & Schmidt, A. (2012). Open display networks: A communications medium for the 21st century. Computer, 45(5), 58-64. Alt, F., Schneegaß, S., Schmidt, A., Müller, J., & Memarovic, N. (2012, June). How to evaluate public displays. In Proceedings of the 2012 International Symposium on Pervasive Displays (p. 17). ACM.
  2. Alt, F., Schmidt, A., & Müller, J. (2012). Advertising on Public Display Networks. Computer, 45(5), 50-56.

Automotive User interfaces was another area where we continued our research. We moved more towards multimodality and included speech input in a prototype:

  1. Pfleging, B., Schneegass, S., & Schmidt, A. (2012, October). Multimodal interaction in the car: combining speech and gestures on the steering wheel. In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications (pp. 155-162). ACM.
  2. Pfleging, B., Kern, D., Döring, T., & Schmidt, A. (2012). Reducing Non-Primary Task Distraction in Cars Through Multi-Modal Interaction. it-Information Technology, 54(4), 179-187.

We ventured into new domains this year. In particular we looked at usable security and brain computer interaction. The following two papers show some examples of this work. We are particularly proud of the BCI paper, as this is the first one wih our students in Stuttgart.

  1. Bulling, A., Alt, F., & Schmidt, A. (2012, May). Increasing the security of gaze-based cued-recall graphical passwords using saliency masks. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3011-3020). ACM.
  2. Shirazi, A. S., Funk, M., Pfleiderer, F., Glück, H., & Schmidt, A. MediaBrain: Annotating Videos based on Brain-Computer Interaction.

Finally this paper may be an interesting read, when you are tired …

  1. Schmidt, A., Shirazi, A. S., & van Laerhoven, K. (2012). Are You in Bed with Technology?. Pervasive Computing, IEEE, 11(4), 4-7.


Finally a simple explanation of social software

Social software and media is getting hugely popular and there are many longer explanations in CSCW and CHI why this works and what are the basic drivers. I saw a t-shirt that explains it in a single picture 🙂

It may over generalize but there is some truth in it – and given the recent figures on the prevalence of ADHA it seems to be a driving business in the future…

Workshop at MobileHCI: Context-Aware Mobile Media and Mobile Social Networks

Together with colleagues from Nokia, VTT, and CMU we organized a workshop on Context-Aware Mobile Media and Mobile Social Networks at MobileHCI 2009.

The topic came up in discussions some time last year. It is very clear that social network have moved towards mobile scenarios and that utilizing context and contextual media adds a new dimension. The workshop program is very diverse and ranges studying usage practices to novel technological solutions for contextual media and application.

One topic that is interesting to further look at is to use (digital) social networks for health care. Taking an analogy in history it is evident that the direct social group you were in took were the set of people that helped you in case of illness or accident. Looking at conditions and illnesses that cause a loss of mobility or memory it could be interesting to find applications on top of digital social networks to provide help. Seems this could be a project topic.

In one discussion we explored what would happen if we would change our default communication behavior from closed/secret (e.g. Email and SMS) to public (e.g. bulletin boards). I took the example of organizing this workshop: our communication has been largely on email and has not been public. If it would had been open (e.g. public forum) we probably would have organized the workshop in the same way but at the same time provided an example how one can organize a workshop and by this perhaps provided useful information for future workshop chairs. In this case there are little privacy concerns but images all communication is public? We would learn a lot about how the world works…

About 10 years ago we published at paper there is more to context than location [1]. However, looking at our workshop it seems: location is still the dominant context people think of. Many of the presentations and discussions included the term context, but the examples focused on location. Perhaps we do need location only? Or perhaps we should look more closely to find the benefit of other contexts?

[1] A. Schmidt, M. Beigl, H.W. Gellersen (1999) There is more to context than location, Computers & Graphics, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 893-901.

Print on demand for newspapers available at Munich central station.

It is about 15 years that I came across the idea of newspapers – printed in the shop where you buy them (sometime when I studied in Ulm). Today I have seen an advert for print on demand newspapers in the international newspapers kiosk in the central station in Munich. They have 850 titles from 70 countries available – as print on demand. The display copies had a decent quality – looked like A3 size color laser printouts – perhaps I can fetch a copy tomorrow.

I wonder how long it will take to move more (low volume papers, local supplements, etc.) to print on demand and how in the short term the split between e-ink and print on demand will be.

It was great to see in Munich so many people I previouly worked with!

Zorah Mari Bauer visits, Shape the future but don’t ignore it

Zorah Mari Bauer, who describes herself as “… a theorist, pioneer and activist of innovative media”, visited our lab. She works at the crossroads of art, design, media and technology and looks into communities, web, TV, and mobile location based applications. We had an interesting discussion on upcoming trends in media and technology and how the inevitable shape our future and how a society has to innovate to be successful. It seems that people who understand the technologies seem to be more positive about the future than those who do not 🙂 It was very inspiring to discuss future trends with her – hope to continue the discussion in the future!

Reading the newspaper was a stark contrast to the interesting and forward looking exchange of ideas. On the way back I found an article in the German newspaper TAZ ( on how evil all the electronic publishing is – it is sometimes really frustrating how little some journalist – even at TAZ – research (or if they research how little they understand). One essential observation in business as well as in society is that if something does not have a value its existence is in danger. Moving towards a digital world for me the added value of traditional publishers is less and less clear – and the only way out is to be innovative… It is very clear that we can shape our future (and it is an exciting time for that) – but it is very clear that if you ignore the future it is still moving on. If you are a publisher and curious about ways to innovate talk to us we have some ideas! E.g. there is a great value if you facilitate relationships (between people, things, places, information) and people strive for external recognition.

How long before traditional TV will be marginalized?

TV and media consumption changes and one gets aware of this especially here in Seoul. People watch mobile TV on the subway and watching youtube videos in the hotel is fun as the available bandwidth seems massive. At the same time there is a convergences in technologies (TV hardware and UI still looks much the same but on the insight they are some sort of PC) is apparent and it takes little imagination to picture a TV set that integrates traditional services (e.g. TV over cable, terrestric, satellite) with new services (e.g. youtube, basically all flash-based video portals) in a transparent way. I would guess such a UI could be created in a way that the user does not really see the difference between a video from youtube or from BBC (only that he cannot fast-forward the BBC one). 

Given this technical prediction we discussed over dinner when traditional TV will be marginalized (in Europe). We could not really agree how we could tell that the traditional TV has been marginalized; One indicators we discussed is there will be no commercial TV stations (as we know them now) that provide a full program with a schedule broadcast. 
Based on this we made our predictions (if I got you wrong please correct it in the comments):
Jakob Bardram: never (just the carrier will change to IP); Alireza Sahami: 8 years; Florian Alt, 14 years, Jani Mantyjarvi, 7 years; Steinar Kristoffersen, 12 years; Nick Villar: 10 years; Chris Kray: 15 years; Albrecht Schmidt: 12 years
For most people live broadcast was one of the issues that they though may keep the traditional stations living longer. But I would argue we will have with the next generation of mobile devices means for broadcasting live, too… The final question is if people really go for professional high quality content over home-made content – I am not sure…
Perhaps we explore an implementation of an integrated UI in our course on user interface engineering in the coming winter term or if good student looks for a project topic.
PS: Steinar added that paper business cards will disappear befor the TV…

Workshop on Smart Homes at Pervasive 2008

Today we had our Pervasive at home workshop – as part of Pervasive 2008 in Sydney. We had 7 talks and a number of discussions on various topics related to smart homes. Issues ranged from long term experience with smart home deployments (Lasse Kaila et al.), development cycle (Aaron Quigley et al.), to end-user development (Joëlle Coutaz). For the full workshop proceedings see [1].

One trend that can be observed is that researchers move beyond the living lab. In the discussion it became apparent that living labs can start research efforts in this area and function as focus point for researchers with different interests (e.g. technology and user-centred). However it was largely agreed that this can only be a first step and that deployments in actual home settings are becoming more essential to make an impact.

On central problem in smart home research is to develop future devices and services – where prototyping is based on current technologies and where we extrapolate from currently observed user behavior. We had some discussion how this can be done most effectively and what value observational techniques add to technology research and vice versa.

We discussed potential options for future smart home deployments and I suggested creating a hotel where people can experience future living and agree at the same time to give away their data for research purpose. Knowing what theme-hotels are around this idea is not as strange as it sounds 😉 perhaps we have to talk to some companies and propose this idea…

More of the workshop discussion is captured at:

There are two interesting references that came up in discussions that I like to share. First the smart home at Duke University (, which is dorm that is a live-in laboratory at Duke University – and it seems it is more expensive that the regular dorm. The second is an ambient interactive device, Joelle Coutaz discussed in the context of her presentation on a new approach to end-user programming and end-user development. The Nabaztag ( is a networked user interface that includes input and output (e.g. text2speech, moveable ears and LEDs) which can be programmed. I would be curious how well it really works to get people more connected – which relates to some ideas of us on having an easy communication channels.

[1] A.J. Brush, Shwetak Patel, Brian Meyers, Albrecht Schmidt (editors). Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on “Pervasive Computing at Home” held at the 6th international Conference on Pervasive Computing, Sydney, May 19 2008.

Lucia Terrenghi defended her Dissertation

Today Lucia Terrenghi completed her PhD at the University of Munich. The topic of her dissertation is “Designing Hybrid Interactions through an Understanding of the Affordances of Physical and Digital Technologies”. She presented interesting insights from prototyping new interaction tools the combine the digital and the physical.

One finding in a case study was that it seems really hard to get people into using both hands for interaction (bi-manual interaction) when digital objects are involved, even though there are physical/tangible artefacts to manipulate. I made a similar observation when recently working with small children who were writing the first time a short text on a computer keyboard. For most of them it was difficult at first to write capital letters – basically using bi-manual interaction with the shift-key and a letter. However in this case they typically learned this extremely quickly and after the first session it was internalized how to do it. I wonder if we should with tangible and bi-manual interaction more look into learning effects and efficiency gain after some time of use, rather than just focus on the instant ability of people to use it.

Watching movies on the train

At the moment I am travelling a lot on the train and it seems that there is an increase in people using their mobile devices (e.g. Sony PSP, mobile phones) to watch cinema movies and episodes of TV-shows. Some individually and others even share the experience. Over the last years it become popular that people watched DVDs on their notebook computer on the train – but it seems the real mobile age is moving on.

Even though the screen is very small it shows again that one needs little to create the illusion of a movie. In the end it comes always back to the story…