Friday 30 November 2012

Timo „Timppa“ Ojala talking about Ubicomp in the Wild

I learned from Hans Gellersen that inviting colleagues to give talks in your lecture is a good approach. You get interesting original content into the lecture and provide potential contact points for students to go abroad. Last year’s talks were quite successful, some of your students ended up to go abroad, e.g. to Lancaster in the UK. This week Timo "Timppa" Ojala from Oulu University is visiting.

In the first part of the talk Timppa was presenting several examples of trails in the wild from the Rotuaari project ( The work done over 10 years ago had many new ideas, ranging from location based guides [1] to contextual mobile advertising [2], that Timppa and his team explored in the wild. Many of these ideas are slowly entering the market today. Jürgen Scheible, one of Timppas PhD students and now a professor at the Hochschule der Medien (and into media arts, see, jointed into the presentation and discussed the findings of his 2005 paper on interactive video on public displays and phones [3].

In the second part he talked about “Open UBI Oulu” and about human city interaction and its project history and future. The research strategy is to do application led research that contributes to basic knowledge. Looking at the cost of the infrastructure it is amazing how cheap it is in comparison to other infrastructure provided by communities. He showed some example of interaction via Bluetooth access point, one of it is proximity marketing that will be published next week at MUM2012 in Ulm. With our European project pd-net (Florian, Nemania, Ivan, Thomas, and others) we where last year as participants in the finals of the first UbiChallenge showing  Funsquare (1st place) [4] and Digifieds (3rd place) [5]. The Challenge will be on this year again.

LightStories ( is project where anyone can book an hour long slot for programming LED stripes on street lights in the city of Oulu. I really wonder how the API of future cities will look like and what applications would become possible if developers have access to an open infrastructure in the city.

After the lecture we went to the Stuttgart Christmans Market :-)

[1] Markus Aittola, Pekka Parhi, Maria Vieruaho, Timo Ojala: Comparison of Mobile and Fixed Use of SmartLibrary. Mobile HCI 2004: 383-387
[2] Lauri Aalto, Nicklas Göthlin, Jani Korhonen, and Timo Ojala. 2004. Bluetooth and WAP push based location-aware mobile advertising system. In Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on Mobile systems, applications, and services (MobiSys '04). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 49-58. DOI=10.1145/990064.990073
[3] Jürgen Scheible and Timo Ojala. 2005. MobiLenin combining a multi-track music video, personal mobile phones and a public display into multi-user interactive entertainment. In Proceedings of the 13th annual ACM international conference on Multimedia (MULTIMEDIA '05). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 199-208. DOI=10.1145/1101149.1101178
[4] Nemanja Memarovic, Ivan Elhart, and Marc Langheinrich. 2011. FunSquare: first experiences with autopoiesic content. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 175-184. DOI=10.1145/2107596.2107619
[5] Florian Alt, Thomas Kubitza, Dominik Bial, Firas Zaidan, Markus Ortel, Björn Zurmaar, Tim Lewen, Alireza Sahami Shirazi, and Albrecht Schmidt. 2011. Digifieds: insights into deploying digital public notice areas in the wild. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 165-174. DOI=10.1145/2107596.2107618

Friday 16 November 2012

3DUI Technologies for Interactive Content by Prof. Yoshifumi Kitamura

In the lecture on multimodal interaction in ubiquitous computing professor Yoshifumi Kitamura presented research on 3D user interface technologies. His research goal is to create 3D display technologies that allow multi-user direct interaction. Users should be able to move in front of the display and different users should have different perspectives according to the location in front of the display. He showed a set of rotating displays (volumetric displays) that allow for the visual presentation, but not for interaction.

His approach is based on an illusion hole that allows for multiple users and direct manipulation. The approach is to have different projections for different users, that are not visible for others but that creates the illusion of interaction with a single object. It uses a display mask that physically limits the view of each user. Have a look at their SIGGRAPH Paper for more details [1]. More recent work on this can be found on the webpage of Yoshifumi Kitamura’s web page [2]
Example of the IllusionHole from [2].

Over 10 years ago they worked on tangible user interfaces based on blocks. Their system is based on a set of small electronic components with input and output, that can be connected and used to create larger structures and that provide input and output functionality. See [3] and [4] for details and applications of Cognitive Cubes and Active Cubes.

He showed examples of interaction with a map based on the concept of electric materials. Elastic scroll and elastic zoom allow to navigate with maps in an apparently intuitive ways. The mental model is straight forward, as the users can image the surface as an elastic material, see [5].

One really cool new display technology was presented at last year ITS is a furry multi-touch display [6]. This is a must read paper!

The furry display prototype - from [6].

[1] Yoshifumi Kitamura, Takashige Konishi, Sumihiko Yamamoto, and Fumio Kishino. 2001. Interactive stereoscopic display for three or more users. In Proceedings of the 28th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques (SIGGRAPH '01). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 231-240. DOI=10.1145/383259.383285
[3] Ehud Sharlin, Yuichi Itoh, Benjamin Watson, Yoshifumi Kitamura, Steve Sutphen, and Lili Liu. 2002. Cognitive cubes: a tangible user interface for cognitive assessment. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '02). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 347-354. DOI=10.1145/503376.503438
[4] Ryoichi Watanabe, Yuichi Itoh, Masatsugu Asai, Yoshifumi Kitamura, Fumio Kishino, and Hideo Kikuchi. 2004. The soul of ActiveCube: implementing a flexible, multimodal, three-dimensional spatial tangible interface. Comput. Entertain. 2, 4 (October 2004), 15-15. DOI=10.1145/1037851.1037874
[5] Kazuki Takashima, Kazuyuki Fujita, Yuichi Itoh, and Yoshifumi Kitamura. 2012. Elastic scroll for multi-focus interactions. In Adjunct proceedings of the 25th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology (UIST Adjunct Proceedings '12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 19-20. DOI=10.1145/2380296.2380307
[6] Kosuke Nakajima, Yuichi Itoh, Takayuki Tsukitani, Kazuyuki Fujita, Kazuki Takashima, Yoshifumi Kitamura, and Fumio Kishino. 2011. FuSA touch display: a furry and scalable multi-touch display. In Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces (ITS '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 35-44. DOI=10.1145/2076354.2076361

Monday 12 November 2012

SIGCHI Rebuttals - Some suggestions to write them

ACM SIGCHI has in it's review process the opportunity for the authors to respond to the comments of the reviewers. I find this a good thing and to me it has two main functions:
  1. The reviewers are usually more careful in what they write as they know they have to face a response for the authors
  2. Authors can clarify points that they did not get across in the first place in the original submission.

We usually write for all submissions with an average score over 2.0 a rebuttal. For lower ranked submissions it may be OK if we think we have a chance to counter some of the arguments, which we believe are wrong or unfair.

For the rebuttal it is most critical to address the meta-review as good as possible. The primary will be in the PC meeting and if the rebuttal wins this person over the job is well done. The other reviews should be addressed, too.

For all the papers where we write a rebuttal I suggest the following steps(a table may be helpful):
  1. read all reviews in detail
  2. copy out all statements that have questions, criticism, suggestions for improvement from each review
  3. for each of these statement make a short version (bullet points, short sentence) in your own words
  4. sort the all the extracted statements by topic
  5. combine all statements that address the same issue
  6. order the combined statements according to priority (highest priority to primary reviewer)
  7. for each combined statement decide if the criticism is justified, misunderstood, or unjustified
  8. make a response for each combined statement
  9. create a rebuttal that addresses as many points as possible, without being short (trade-off in the number of issue to address and detail one can give)
Point 8 is the core...
There are three basic options:
  • if justified: acknowledge that this is an issue and propose how to fix it
  • if misunderstood: explain again and propose you will improve the explanaition in the final version
  • if unjustified: explain that this point may be disputed and provide additional evidence why you think it should be as it is
The unjustified ones are the most tricky ones. We had cases where reviewers stated that the method we used is not appropriate. Here a response could be to cite other work that used this method in the same context. Similarly we had reviewers arguing that the statistical tests we used cannot be used on our data, here we also explained in more details the distribution of the data and why the test is appropriate. Sometimes it may be better to ignore cases where the criticism is unjustified - especially if it is not from the primary.

Some additional points
  • be respectful to the reviewers – they put work in to review the papers
  • if the reviewers did not understand – we probably did not communicate well
  • do not promise unrealistic things in the rebuttal
  • try to answer direct questions with precise and direct answers
  • if you expect that one reviewer did not read the paper – do not directly write this – try to address the points (and perhaps add a hint it is in the paper, e.g. “ANSWER as we outline already in section X)