What portion of research time is spent writing proposals?

The next European deadline is close and hence everyone is writing proposals and essays…

I wonder if someone has assessed how much work goes into proposal writing on a European scale. On one hand I see the value of forcing researchers to write proposals and to articulate their ideas but on the other hand it seems a great lot of research could be conducted if senior people would use this time for doing actual research. In proposals formulating the actual core of the research idea is exciting (often even more exciting than carrying out research) but this is only one part of proposal writing. But what would be an alternative for deciding what research to fund?

As should be obvious, the first sentence ensures it alludes to the point (IT) and uses certainties about IT taken from the inquiry. Note that these are summarized – you must not duplicate from the rubric! The second part then obviously sets out the highessay com/ what the exposition will be about and affirms the essayists sentiment (a few inquiries may not request your conclusion, but rather this one does).

Having spent a 30 hours in Lancaster improved our idea and we got a good step forward…

PS: Birthday is a perfect day for finding out which companies have you on your mailing list

Reto Wetach visits our lab… and looking for someone with expertise in pain

Reto Wettach was in Essen so we took the opportunity to get together to flash out some ideas for a proposal – it is related to pain – in a positive sense. There is interesting and scary previous work, see [1] & [2]. For the proposal we still look for someone not from the UK and not from Germany – who has an expertise and interest in medical devices (sensors and actuators) and someone who has experience in pain and perception of pain (e.g. from the medical domain). Please let me know if you know someone who may fit the profile …

Before really getting to this we had a good discussion on the usefulness of the concept of tangible interaction – obviously we see the advantages clearly – but nevertheless it seem in many ways hard to proof. The argument for tangible UIs as manipulators and controls is very clear and can be shown but looking at tangible objects as carriers for data it becomes more difficult. Looking a physical money the tangible features are clear and one can argue for the benefit of tangible qualities (e.g. I like Reto’s statement “the current crisis would not have happened if people would have had to move money physically”) – but also the limitations are there and modern world with only tangible money would be unimaginable.

Taking the example of money (coins and bills) two requirements for tangible objects that embody information become clear:

  • The semantic of the information carried by the object has to be universally accepted
  • Means for processing (e.g. reading) the tangible objects have to be ubiquitously available

There is an interesting and early paper that looks into transporting information in physical form [3]. The idea is simple: data can be assigned to/associated with any object and can be retrieved from this object. The implementation is interesting, too – the passage mechanism uses the weight of an object as ID.

[1] http://www.painstation.de/
[2] Dermot McGrath. No Pain, No Game. Wired Magazin 07/2002.
[3] Shin’ichi Konomi, Christian Müller-Tomfelde, Norbert A. Streitz: Passage: Physical Transportation of Digital Information in Cooperative Buildings. Cooperative Buildings. Integrating Information, Organizations and Architecture. CoBuild 1999. Springer LNCS 1670. pp. 45-54.

Human Computer Confluence – Information Day in Brussels

By the end of the month FET Open will launch the call for the proactive initiative on Human Computer Confluence. The term is new and hopefully it will really lead to new ideas. Today was already an information day on the upcoming proactive initiatives. I arrived the evening before and it is always a treat to talk a walk in the city.

The presentations were not really surprising and also the short intros by the participants remained very generic. Seeing the call that is now finalized and having been at the consultation meetings it seems to me that the focus is rather broad for a proactive initiative… but with many people wanting a piece of the cake this seems inevitable.

I presented a short idea of “breaking space and time boundaries” – the idea is related to a previous post on predicting the future. The main idea is that with massive sensing (by a large number of people) and with uniform access to this information – independ of time and space – we will be able to create a different view of our realty. We think of putting a consortium together for an IP. Interested? Then give me a call.

Sensing a common tools – when will it be integrated in building materials?

This morning a heating and water technician checked on the wet spots on my wall in my new flat in Essen. Using a hygrometer he looked for the area which is most damp and then he broke a hole into the wall. After opening the wall, it was very easy to see that the outside wall is wet and that the heating is OK.

The hole in the wall does not really look good 🙁

This makes me wonder when building materials, with sensing included will move from the lab to the real world. Pipe insulation, plaster boards, stones with integrated sensors would be quite easy to create and there are ideas to do it in a cheap and easy way. In the context of Pin&Play (later Voodoo I/O) we explored some ideas but never completed the prototypes for real use. Perhaps this could be an interesting project…

Interactive window displays – we have better ideas

It seems that in the research community a lot of people are convinced of interactive public spaces and interactive window displays. Over the last month I have see great visions and ideas – as well as reflected on our own multi-touch ideas for interactive shop windows.

The installations I have seen in the real world however are at best boring (and often not functioning at all). It seems that even a student-project-lab-demo is more appealing and works at least as realiable.

Especially combining sensing (e.g. simple activity recognition, context) with low threshold interactive content seems to have great potential. If there is somebody interested in really cool stuff for a shop window (attention grabbing, eye catchers, interactive content, etc.) – talk to me. We are happy to discuss a project proposal 😉

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.