Saturday, 20 December 2008

New project on ambient visualization - kick-off meeting in Munich

We met in Munich at Docomo Euro Labs to start a new project that is related to context and ambient visualizations. And everyone already got bunnies ;-)

Related to this there is a large and very interesting project: IYOUIT. Besides other things it can record and share your context – if you have a Nokia series 60 phone you should try it out. As far as I remember it was voted best mobile experience at mobile HCI 2008. 

Friday, 19 December 2008

Random Links, toys and free location data

Over the last day I have learned about some (more) interesting things out there – here are some to share with you:

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Tactile interfaces, Visit from Gordon Bolduan

This afternoon Gordon Bolduan from Technology Review was visiting the lab. We talked about haptic and tactile interfaces and showed some demos (e.g. navigation with tactile cues). 
When preparing for the visit I looked for some good examples of tactile interaction - and interestingly there is more and more work out there that has the potential to change future interfaces and means of communication. 

Recent work on connecting people [1] and [2] at the boundary between computing and design shows new options for emotional communication. 

We used in our work multiple vibration motors and explored the potential for mobile devices [3]. What to use for tactile interaction beyond vibration is one obvious question, and I find the paper by Kevin Li [4] a good starting point to get some more ideas.

When talking about human computer interaction that includes stroking, tapping and rubbing an association to erotic and sexual interactions seem obvious; and there is more to that if you are curious just search for teledildonics and you will find interesting commercial products as well as a lot of DIY ideas.

[1] Eichhorn, E., Wettach, R., and Hornecker, E. 2008. A stroking device for spatially separated couples. In Proceedings 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, 303-306. DOI= 

[2] Werner, J., Wettach, R., and Hornecker, E. 2008. United-pulse: feeling your partner's pulse. In Proceedings 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, 535-538. DOI= 

[3] Alireza Sahami, Paul Holleis, Albrecht Schmidt, Jonna Häkkilä: Rich Tactile Output on Mobile Devices. European Conference on Ambient Intelligence (Ami'08). Springer LNCS Nürnberg 2008, S. 210-221. DOI=

[4] Li, K. A., Baudisch, P., Griswold, W. G., and Hollan, J. D. 2008. Tapping and rubbing: exploring new dimensions of tactile feedback with voice coil motors. In Proceedings of the 21st Annual ACM Symposium on User interface Software and Technology (Monterey, CA, USA, October 19 - 22, 2008). UIST '08. ACM, New York, NY, 181-190. DOI=

One Ez430-F2013 for each student in DSD

This term we teach digital system design and besides the essential (gates, flip-flops, 2-complements, alu, data path, etc) we decided to include some practical parts. In the first part we introduced Verilog. We did the exercises with Icarus Verilog (free, text-based verilog) and there are more powerful tools available, e.g. ISE WebPACK.

In the second part we have practical exercises in assembly language using the Ez430-F2013 development kit. We borrowed one kit to each student (just in case someone is bored over Christmas) and the current task is to complete and assembly program (incomplete sample) that the LED shows repeatedly "Hello" in Morse code. This is just the start - perhaps we do some more interesting stuff in January. The development kit is really interesting - especially given the fact that it is only 20€ (including hardware, compiler, and IDE). The MCU is small - but still good enought to generate a video signal (eagle CAD files, some assembly code). 

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Enrico Rukzio visits our Lab

Enrico Rukzio (my first PhD from Munich, now lecturer in Lancaster) visited our Lab. He was make a small tour of Germany (Münster, Essen, Oldenburg). In the user interface engineering class Enrico showed some on his current work on mobile interaction, in particular mobile projectors and NFC tags. After the presentation we wondered how long it will take till kids on the train will play with mobile projections ;-)

We showed Enrico a demo of eye-tracking for active customization of browser adverts. In our setup we use the Tobii X120. For tracking of people in the room we still have not decided on a system - and Enrico told me about the Optitrack system they have. That looked quite interesting... 

As we all do studies in our work - the design of studies is critical and there is an interesting book to help with this: How to Design and Report Experiments by Andy Field  and Graham J. Hole.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Biometrics will come, who will care about privacy

Arriving at the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport I saw some extra installations (and extra lines) for iris scan immigration. Arriving at 4 am in the morning they were closed and there were not queues - but I could see that it is very attractive at other times of day when queues are long. On the official website they claim that border control will be down to 20 seconds. There is a more detailed document on the schema - I saved the document to have it in 10 years when we will have a very different view on privacy.

Will we have face-2-face PC meetings in the future?

On Thursday morning I flew to Boston for the CHI 2009 PC meeting. The review and selection process was organized very professional and efficient. We discussed all papers in one and a half days - and I think an interesting program came out and I learned a lot about what values my colleagues see or see not in papers. On Friday afternoon I flew back to the UK for the Pervasive 2009 PC meeting in Cambridge (with the same crew on the plane).

Nevertheless the question remains how sustainable is it that 100 people fly to a face-2-face meeting. In what way could we do such a meeting remotely? Video conferencing still does not really work well for larger group discussions (just collecting experience here in Cambridge during the Pervasive PC meeting)… Can it be so difficult to make a reasonable video link between two meeting room? How could we recreate the social aspects (like a joined dinner or walking back through the city with Gregory) as well as side conversations in the meetings? We probably should try harder - It cannot be that difficult - there have been massive amounts of work in CSCW research? Perhaps we should try linking two rooms at different universities as a group project next term? 

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Christmas market in Essen

Going to Christmas market is in Germany a tradition - and obviously our group went, too ;-)
It is interesting that most of us had time for this "appointment" with only two days notice - usually it takes us weeks to find a date for a meeting and so far we did not find a date for a strategy meeting in the near future. Perhaps offering Glühwein (that is what you drink at Christmas markets) would help…
The quality of photos taken with a mobile phone is in difficult context (e.g. night, lights around) still not satisfactory (even with 5MP, downscaling, and image enhancing).