Friday, 26 September 2008

Mobile images / video as proof

While waiting for my conneting flight a saw a women posting a letter and filming this as she did it. She created some sort of proof. Thinking a little more and having further information in the background (e.g. a clock, the schedule display, people waiting) this this has some potential to replace registered mail for certain domains? This gives me an idea for a small weekend project...

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Closing Panel at Ubicomp 2008

The closing panel at Ubicomp dicussed the last 10 years of ubicomp and potential future direction (with regard to community and technology). On the panel were Gregory Abowd, Hide Tokuda, Lars Eric Holmquist, Eric Paulos, and Albrecht Schmidt. In the following I will just describe some of the points I raised in my short statement. 

For me the first observation is that many ideas that were discussed at the first HUC99 (the first ubicomp conference started by Hans Gellsersen) - and were considered very speculative ideas have become common products and services by now (e.g. pocket bargain finder, predictive text input, mobile collaboration tool, mobile photo-sharing, location aware technologies). Here it is apparent that with regard to envisioning applications the conference has made impact. But there is a curious phenomenon: at the moment a device or service is available in the shop we do not recognize it as ubicomp anymore.

In some areas the complexity of the problems (when moving from the lab to the real world) has been underestimated - here context and context-awareness is a good example. If you realize the full vision it is basically solving AI. But nevertheless we progressed - there are applications for commercial mobile devices that do context and activity recognition - and it is just 10 years that we discussed this in a HUC99 in our paper on advanced interaction in context [1] - which was at that time really innovative! Context-awareness will happen - be patient :-) but its has to take into account: humans are adaptive, too. 

The papers which had a large impact (based on citations e.g. check [1] on google scholar) seem more the papers that score high on novelty, even if the may lack scientific rigor.
 
For future directions I hinted some general directions (not necessarily my research directions): 
  • Implanted activity recognition and interaction (put the sensing and actuation into the body solves a lot of the problems … obviously it creates many new ones, too) 
  • Implantable persuasion and amplifying bodily experiences. Here I gave the example that we would be able to create a device to motivate you do sports by making your back hurt. I used this to emphasise that ethics will play a large role in the future…
  • Prediction technologies (e.g. the weather forecast as an inspiration, forecasting traffic conditions, parking situation, restaurant business, costs, …) we will create systems that allo us to look up predictions (cost, quality of the experience, stress, time needed, etc.) for future activities (e.g. when choosing a restaurants, booking a travel, deciding on dating a person, making a business deal, accepting a position, ...)
  • And finally I suggested that we will have fun with papers on privacy published now when reading them in 20 years :-) because our perception of this topic will change massively.
With regard to the community I made the statement that Ubicomp became the Starbucks of ubiquitous computing research - premium but based on the US idea of quality. Have you ever been in a Vienna coffee house, in an Italian espresso bar, or had tea in the middle east - it is very different. We lost some of the international spirit and we stopped arguing what good research in ubicomp is - this discurse should be started again!. Looking at the countries where ubicomp technologies come from (e.g. a lot from Aisia and Europe) we should again make a effort to more value the international diversity and the different styles and approaches in ubicomp research - scientific rigor is not the only axis to consider. 

[1] Schmidt, A., Aidoo, K. A., Takaluoma, A., Tuomela, U., Laerhoven, K. V., and Velde, W. V. 1999. Advanced Interaction in Context. In Proceedings of the 1st international Symposium on Handheld and Ubiquitous Computing (Karlsruhe, Germany, September 27 - 29, 1999). H. Gellersen, Ed. Lecture Notes In Computer Science, vol. 1707. Springer-Verlag, London, 89-101. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/3-540-48157-5_10

My Random Papers Selection from Ubicomp 2008

Over the last days there were a number of interesting papers presented and so it is not easy to pick a selection... Here is my random paper selection from Ubicomp 2008 that link to our work (the conference papers link into the ubicomp 2008 proceedings in the ACM DL, our references are below):

Don Patterson presented a survey on using IM. One of the finding surprised me: people seem to ignore "busy" settings. In some work we did in 2000 on mobile availability and sharing context users indicated that they would respect this or at least explain when interrupt someone who is busy [1,2] - perhaps it is a cultural difference or people have changed. It may be interesting to run a similar study in Germany.

Woodman and Harle from Cambridge presented a pedestrian localization system for large indoor environments. Using a XSens device they combine dead reckoning with knowledge gained from a 2.5D map. In the experiment they seem to get similar results as with a active bat system - by only putting the device on the user (which is for large buildings much cheaper than putting up infrastructure).

Andreas Bulling presented work where he explored the use EOG goggles for context awareness and interaction. The EOG approach is complementary to video based systems. The use of gesturest for context-awarenes follows a similar idea as our work on eye gestures [3]. We had an interesting discussion about further ideas and perhaps there is chance in the future to directly compare the approaches and work together.

In one paper "on using existing time-use study data for ubiquitous computing applications" links to interesting public data sets were given (e.g the US time-use survey). The time-use surevey data covers the US and gives detailed data on how people use their data.

University of Salzburg presented initial work on an augmented shopping system that builds on the idea of implicit interaction [4]. In the note they report a study where they used 2 cameras to observe a shopping area and they calculated the "busy spots" in the area. Additional they used sales data to get best selling products. Everything was displayed on a public screen; and an interesting result was that it seems people where not really interesting in other shoppers behavior… (in contrast to what we observe in e-commerce systems).

Researchers from Hitachi presented a new idea for browsing and navigating content based on the metaphor of using a book. In is based on the concept to have a bendable surface. In complements interestingly previous work in this domain called Gummi presented in CHI 2004 by Schwesig et al.

[1] Schmidt, A., Takaluoma, A., and Mäntyjärvi, J. 2000. Context-Aware Telephony Over WAP. Personal Ubiquitous Comput. 4, 4 (Jan. 2000), 225-229. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s007790070008
[2] Albrecht Schmidt, Tanjev Stuhr, Hans Gellersen. Context-Phonebook - Extending Mobile Phone Applications with Context. Proceedings of Third Mobile HCI Workshop, September 2001, Lille, France.
[3] Heiko Drewes, Albrecht Schmidt. Interacting with the Computer using Gaze Gestures. Proceedings of INTERACT 2007.
[4] Albrecht Schmidt. Implicit Human Computer Interaction Through Context. Personal Technologies, Vol 4(2), June 2000

Monday, 22 September 2008

Our Posters at Ubicomp 2008

In the poster session we showed 3 ideas of ongoing work from our lab and got some interesting comments and had good discussions. 

Ali presented initial findings from our experiments with multi-tactile output on a mobile phone [1]. He created a prototype with 6 vibration motors that can be individually controlled. In the studies we looked at what locations of the vibration elements and what patters can be spotted by the user. In short it seems that putting the vibration motors in the corners works best.

Florian showed ideas on counting page impressions on public advertising screens we sketched out with Antonio's Group in Münster [2]. The basic idea is to use sensors to get an idea of the number of people passing by. To calibrate such a system (as the sensor observations are only incomplete) we propose to use existing ways of counting people (e.g. access gates to public transport) and extrapolate based on this information.

I presented Dagmar's poster on initial work on providing information on the fuel economy in an engaging way to the user [3]. In a focus group study we observed that people are more aware of the price of a journey when using public transport than when using a car. For the car they know well the price per liter but have to calculate the price for a typical trip (e.g. to work). We suggest ideas where one can compete with others (e.g. from the social network) in saving energy on a specific route.

[1] Alireza Sahami Shirazi, Paul Holleis, Albrecht Schmidt. Rich Tactile Output for Notification on Mobile Phones (2-page paper, poster). Adjunct proceedings of Ubicomp 2008, Seoul, Korea, p26-27

[2] Albrecht Schmidt, Florian Alt, Paul Holleis, Jörg Müller, Antonio Krüger. Creating Log Files and Click Streams for Advertisements in Physical Space (2-page paper, poster). Adjunct proceedings of Ubicomp 2008, Seoul, Korea, p28-29

[3] Dagmar Kern, Paul Holleis, Albrecht Schmidt. Reducing Fuel Consumption by Providing In-situ Feedback on the Impact of Current Driving Actions (2-page paper, poster), Adjunct proceedings of Ubicomp 2008, Seoul, Korea, p18-19

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...

Keynote at Ubicomp 2008, Dr. Shim Yoon

The opening keynote at Ubicomp 2008 was presented by Dr. Shim Yoon (Vice President Samsung SDS) on Realizing Ubiquitous Cities. She stated out with a few  scenarios of life in the future. Information is embedded into the environment - just in place and just in time - just what you need. Environments become pleasant and technologies look nice, so you can mistake a power distribution box for a sculpture. Cities will be really save as monitoring will be ubiquitous and continuous. Much of the vision is convincing and convenient (given that you have given up on privacy, too). 
There has been an interesting slide in the scenarios that  made me smile (in short "22:47, pick up the book reserved in advance for lending after taking a walk"). It basically says we will still have pretty long days and books will be around, too. 
I think in the age of ebooks I will not pick up books late in the evening. Looking at the analogies of previous technical revolutions one can argue that these reduced the number of hours people had to work to have a good life - it seems this technical revolution creates the opposite (u-work everywhere and anytime ;-) - is fine with me because I like my work :-)She described how technologies changes the urban culture, e.g. provision of water, later roads and harbors, and very recent fiber optics and mobile communications. In her view ubiquitous technologies will add a further paradigm shift. 

The overall concept of u-city can be condensed to her statement:  "u-city can solve complicated urban problems" and this is attempted by combining political, physical and techno solutions. It is envisioned having IT included in all city elements. The approach follows a layered design with a base layer of the communication infrastructure (e.g. fixed and wireless infrastructure). In the middle there are the u-facility arrangements (e.g. sensor network, CCTV, power distribution), and on top u-services (u-home, u-office, u-traffic, …) are provided. 

It is envisioned that u-services are partly free (provided by the government) and partly
 commercial. Some of the examples for services see straight forward and very close (e.g. u-urban facility management that allows to monitor, check, maintain the infrastructure) and some are somehow scary (e.g. u-safety and security allows complete monitoring over the while city, ranging from fire recognition to behavioral analysis of its inhabitants). She pointed out that u-service modeling needs to include technical aspects as well as a business analysis.

The importance Korea sees in this topic is amazing and is summarized by the following quote "U-city is a key aspect in the next generation industry and economy in Korea". The Korean government is behind the developments and urban planning embraces the concept and puts it at the center of the planning. Looking at the u-urban information concept it becomes apparent that this concept is valuable along the entire lifecycle, including planning, simulation, management and operation. One catch is that it has to be integrated while building, otherwise it will be expensive and it is not possible to gain the full potential. This is the bad message for most developed countries as we usually change our cities and do not build them from scratch…

Explaining more on the realization of u-city she argued that a new process is required and that construction and IT processes have  to go together. During city planning a u-city consulting process is performed (creating an IT master plan for the new city including the envisioning of the services). In the building process the IT-infrastructure is included (when it is easiest to realize). Running and managing the city includes operating U-city (basically running the IT services by a specific UbiCenter - a control center for the city).

In the final part of her keynote she talked a little about the Samsung U-City strategy. Here she saw a necessity to merge the city construction with the provision of IT capabilities. This ranges from  developing convergence Services (e.g. ubiquitous communication service, city control an & security services) to the creation of comprehensive services for complex housing environments. An example of a infrastructure device she mentioned is a complex lighting pole (which could include information display, LED lighting, CCTV camera, wireless access points, etc.). In summary the strategy is the development (and potentially the export) of world class u-city technologies. 

In the question session I raised the issue if this may lead to even more people moving from the rural areas to cities because of the new qualities such u-cities will provide. And it seems there will be even a greater difference between rural areas and cities in the future and this may strengthen the trend towards mega-cities. Perhaps we should think a bit more about u-rural…

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Doctoral colloquium at Ubicomp 2008

In the doctoral colloquium at Ubicomp 2008 we saw an interesting mix of topics including work on context-awareness, interaction in smart space, home infrastructures and urban environments. Overall there is again the observation that in ubicomp topics are very broad (at least in the beginning) and that it is not easy to narrow it down.

As Ali works on tactile feedback it was very interesting to see the presentation of Kevin Li on eyes-free interaction. He has an upcoming paper at UIST 2008 which is worthwhile to check out [1]. It was interesting some of the questions that relate to "easily learnable" or "intuitive" related to the discussion we had 2 weeks ago at the automotive UI workshop - what are tactile stimuli that are natural and we associate meaning with them without explanations or learning?
There are many more papers to read if you are interested in tactile communication and output, here are two suggestions [2] and [3].

[1]. Li, K. A., Baudisch, P., Griswold, W.G., Hollan, J.D. Tapping and rubbing: exploring new dimensions of tactile feedback with voice coil motors. To appear in Proc. UIST'08.

[2] Chang, A. and O'Modhrain, S., Jacob, R., Gunther, E., and Ishii, H. ComTouch: design of a vibrotactile communication device. Proc. Of DIS'02, pp. 312-320.

[3] Malcolm Hall, Eve Hoggan, Stephen A. Brewster: T-Bars: towards tactile user interfaces for mobile touchscreens. Mobile HCI 2008: 411-414

PS: Just one remark on the term "framework" (a favorite word to use in dissertation and paper titles) - it is not a clear term and expectations are very different, hence it make sense to think twice before using it ;-)

Friday, 19 September 2008

Which way did you fly to Korea?

We got a new USB GPS tracker(from Mobile Action, GT100) and had to try it out on the trip to Korea. It worked very well compared to the other devices we had so far. It got the bus trip in Düsseldorf airport right and the entire flight from Amsterdam to Seoul. Tracking worked well in the taxi from the Airport to the hotel. While walking in downtown Seoul it still performed OK (given the urban canyons) with some outliers.

It did not get any signal while we were on the Fokker-50 from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam :-( I slept a few hours on the flight to Seoul but I think someone took a photo (probably of me) over Mongolia… If you wonder if it is allowed to used your GPS in the plane or not – it is – at least with KLM (according to a random website http://gpsinformation.net/airgps/airgps.htm :-)


Back in Korea, Adverts, Driving and Entertainment

videoOn the way into town we got a really good price for the taxi (just make a mental note never to negotiate something with Florian and Alireza at the same time ;-) It seems taxi driving is sort of boring – he too watched television while driving (like the taxi driver some weeks ago in Amsterdam). I think we should seriously think more about entertainment for micro breaks because I still think it is for a good reason not allowed to watch TV while driving.

videoSeoul is an amazing place. There are many digital signs and electronic adverts. Walking back to the hotel I saw a large digital display on a rooftop (would guess about 10 meters by 6 meters). If working it is probably nice. But now it is mal functioning and the experience walking down the road is worsened as one inevitably looks at it. I wonder if in 10 years we will be used to broken large screen displays…   

video

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

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= http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00779-005-0022-y

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Buying Music Online – how easy is it?

Imagine there is a song – you know band and title – and you want to buy it. Should not be really something worthwhile reporting in a blog…

How long does it take to buy a song and how many steps does it need? I tried myself and was pretty much amazed that it is still more difficult than other ways to get music. The idea was to put the song into my shopping cart, press check-out, pay by credit card, and download. On the stores I encountered you have to register before to buy… I finally got the song and here are the steps at a major German music store: go to shop page, search for song, put in shopping cart, go to checkout, told to register, fill in registration form, told to confirm email, opened email client, waited 3 minutes for email, confirmed email, logged in on webpage, realized shopping card is empty :-(, search for song, put in shopping cart, go to checkout, entered credit card information, pay about 1.69€, got download link, got music.

I really wonder how many people will become first time buyers in this shop. Sometimes I think the things we teach in User Interface Engineering are obvious – but real life tells me they are not! If you run a music download portal or if you are in the music business and you wonder why no-one buys – we can tell you :-) it may be about utility and usability of your online offers… if you need more details we are happy to help you :-)

PS: there was a store with a .ru address with better usability that offered the song with no registration at 0.20€ - but I did not want to give my credit card details… 

Friday, 12 September 2008

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: http://www.esquire.com/the-side/video/e-ink-cover-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.

[2] http://www.swa.hpi.uni-potsdam.de/cop/

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

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Workshop on Automobile User Interfaces

For the second time we ran this year a workshop on automobile user interfaces and interactive applications in the car at the German HCI conference: http://automotive.ubisys.org/

In the first session we discussed the use of tactile output and haptics in automotive user interfaces. It appears that there is significant interest in this area at the moment. In particular using haptics as an additional modality creates a lot of opportunities for new interfaces. We had a short discussion about two directions in haptic output: naturalistic haptic output (e.g. line assist that feels like going over the side of the road) vs. generic haptic output (e.g. giving a vibration cue when to turn).

 I think the first domain could make an interesting project – how does it naturally feel to drive too fast, to turn the wrong way, to be too close to the car in front of you, etc…

In a further session we discussed framework and concepts for in-car user interfaces. The discussion on the use of context with the interface was very diverse. Some people argued it should be only used in non-critical/optional parts of the UI (e.g. entertainment) as one is not 100% sure if the recognized context is right. Others argue that context may provide a central advantage, especially in safety critical systems, as it gives the opportunity to react faster. 

In the end it comes always down to the question: to what extent do we want to have the human in the loop… But looking at Wolfgang's overview slide it is impressive how much functionality depends already now on context...

In the third session we discussed tools and methods for developing and evaluating user interfaces in the car context. Dagmar presented our first version of CARS (a simple driving simulator for evaluation of UIs) and discussed findings from initial studies [1]. The simulator is based on the JMonkey Game engine and available open source on our website [2].

There were several interesting ideas on what topics are really hot in automotive UIs, ranging from interfaces for information gather in Car-2-Car / Car-2-Envrionment communication to micro-entertainment while driving.

[1] Dagmar Kern, Marco Müller, Stefan Schneegaß, Lukasz Wolejko-Wolejszo, Albrecht Schmidt. CARS – Configurable Automotive Research Simulator. Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Applications – AUIIA 08. Workshop at Mensch und Computer 2008 Lübeck 2008

[2] https://www.pcuie.uni-due.de/projectwiki/index.php/CARS

PS: In a taxi in Amsterdam the driver had a DVD running while driving – and I am sure this is not a form of entertainment that works well (it is neither fun to watch, nor is it save or legal).

We presented MirrorBoard at Mensch und Computer 2008 in Lübeck

Last winter term I was teaching a class on Unconventional User Interfaces at the University of Linz as part of the MSc in Pervasive Computing. As part of the exercises the students had to do a project and write a paper on the topic in a group. This required to do a full round in the development (from idea creation to study).

Florian König and his group had an exciting idea for a novel form of advertisement. The user is mirrored in the advert and becomes a part of it. They implemented an interactive poster for a travel agent (users become part of the holyday scene) and tested it in-situ. The paper was accepted at the German HCI conference (Mensch und Computer) and Florian presented it today very well [1].

In the questions there was much discussion about privacy and user acceptance. We discussed whether or not such a installation would be legal in Germany (people mentioned the Datenschutzgesetz §6).

[1] Johannes Schönböck, Florian König, Gabriele Kotsis, Dominik Gruber, Emre Zaim, Albrecht Schmidt. MirrorBoard – An Interactive Billboard. Mensch und Computer 2008. Lübeck. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2008, p 207-216.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Is there a Net Generation? Keynote by Rolf Schulmeister

This year the German HCI conference (Mensch und Computer) is co-located with the German e-learning conference. The opening keynote this morning by Rolf Schulmeister was an interesting analysis of how young people use media in the context of learning. Over the last year that have been plenty of popular science books that tell us how human kind changes with the internet, e.g. Digital Native vs. Digital Immigrands by Marc Prensky (extract). The talk seriously questioned if a “Net Generation” exists and it seems that many of the properties associated with it (e.g. short attention spans, use of internet to socialize, reveal feelings through the internet, preference of graphics over text) are found based on studies where people select themselves to participate in the studies/questionnaires.

The paper (Gibt es eine »Net Generation«, in German over 130 pages) that accompanies the talk provides many interesting reference and is worthwhile a further look.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Some random papers from Mobile HCI 2008

During mobile HCI I came across many interesting things (that is why one goes to conferences ;-) here is a selection of papers to look at – if you have more time it is worthwhile to look at the whole proceedings of mobile HCI 2008 in the ACM DL.

Gauntlet: a wearable interface for ubiquitous gaming – exploring a new gaming UI for gestures.

Mobile phones as artifacts children use in their games are discussed. Shows again how creative children are ;-)

An Investigation into round touch screen Wristwatch interaction – interesting topic and good example how to do a small study. Ideas to create a tactile rim, e.g. 2 parts moving to have different tactile cues, were brought up in the discussion.

Programming with children – taking programming it into the environment away from the computer, relates to Tangible User Interfaces

Projector phone: a study of using mobile phones with integrated projector for interaction with maps

Interaction based on Speech seems possible – even in noisy environment – the paper reports interesting preliminary results in the context of a fishing boot. Interesting in-situ tests (e.g. platform in a wave tank)

Wearable computing user interfaces. Where should we put the controls and what functions do uses expect?

Learning-oriented vehicle navigation systems: a preliminary investigation in a driving simulator

Enrico Rukzio followed up the work from Munich pushing the idea of touch interaction with NFC devices further.

Color matching using a mobile phone. The idea is to use a color chart, take a photo of face with a color chart, sent by mms to server, server process look up color match, reply by sms; no software installation only using MMS, SMS. Application in cosmetics are discussed.

Using Second Life to demonstrate a concept automobile heads up display (A-HUD)

Friday, 5 September 2008

Paul Holleis presented our paper on Wearable Controls

Last year Paul did an internship a Nokia in Finland. He worked there on the integration of capacitive sensors in phones and clothing. After Paul was back we jointly followed up on the topic which resulted in an interesting set of guidelines for placing wearable controls [1].

The paper gives a good overview of wearable computing and interaction with wearable computers. In the work we focused on integrating touch sensitive controls into garments and accessories for a operating the music player integrated in a phone. The study showed that there are prime locations where to place controls on their body: the right hip and above the right knee (for more details see the paper [1]). It furthermore showed that it is not clear expectations of functions (e.g. forward, backward, volume up/down) with regard to controls laid out on the close.

During his internship he also did research on integrating touch into buttons, which was published at Tangible and Embedded Interaction 2008 [2].

[1] Holleis, P., Schmidt, A., Paasovaara, S., Puikkonen, A., and Häkkilä, J. 2008. Evaluating capacitive touch input on clothes. 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, 81-90. DOI= http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1409240.1409250

[2] Paul Holleis, Jonna Häkkilä, Jussi Huhtala. Studying Applications for Touch-Enabled Mobile Phone Keypads. Proceedings of the 2nd Tangible and Embedded Interaction Conference TEI’08. February 2008.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Andrew Greaves presents a study on photo browsing using projector phones

Since Enrico Rukzio (my first PhD student) went to Lancaster he discovered and advanced a very exciting topic for mobile interaction: mobile projector/projector phones. His group has a great presencs at this year’s mobile HCI (3 demonstrations, 2 short papers, 2 full papers, a workshop). In time for the conference the first projector phone appeared on the market (Cking Epoq EGP-PP01) - as to highlight the timeliness of the work.

The mobile projector study [1] revealed several interesting aspects. 1) it is faster to browser on the phone screen than using a project, 2) users do a lot of context switches between projection and device – even nothing is displayed on the screen, 3) the users see a great value in it (even if they may be slower). I am really looking forward to further results in this area. It may be significantly change the way we use mobile phones!

PS: see Enrico watching his student present I remember how exciting it is for a supervisor to just watch…

[1] Andrew Greaves, Enrico Rukzio. Evaluation of Picture Browsing using a Projector Phone. 10th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (Mobile HCI 2008). Amsterdam, Netherlands. 2-5 September 2008.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Survey on mobile shopping experience

I recently discussed with Felix von Reischach (from the group of Florian Michahelles at the autoidlabs/ETH Zürich) ideas for a survey and study in the domain of mobile shopping.

He put together a survey – please have a look and take part!

Sightseeing, Photos

After the conference reception and dinner we went around Amsterdam for some late night sightseeing. Amsterdam is an amazing place...

On the tram back Florian made some very interesting pictures - this is not Photoshop ;-) it is a reflection in the window!

Implanted Persuasion Technologies

While listening to BJ Fogg, and especially on the motivation pairs (in particular instant pleasure and gratification vs. instant pain) I was wondering how long it will take till we talk about and see implantable persuasion technologies. Take the example of obesity – here one could really image ways of creating an implant that provides motivation for a certain eating behavior… would this be ethical?

Keynote at MobileHCI2008: BJ Fogg - mobile miracle

BJ Fogg gave the opening keynote at mobile HCI 2008 in Amsterdam. The talk explained very well the concept of Captology (computers as persuasive technologies) and the newer projects are very inspiring. He put the following questions at the center: How can machines change people’s minds and hearts? How can you automate persuasion? His current focus is on behavior change.

He reported of a class he is teaching at Stanford on designing facebook applications. The metric for success (and on this students are marked) is the uptake of the created application over the time of the course. He reported that the course attracted 16 million users in total and about 1 million on a daily basis – that is quite impressive. This is also an example of the approach he advocates: “rather try than think”. The rational is to try out a lot of things (in the real market with real users, alpha/beta culture) rather than optimize a single idea. Here the background is that nowadays implementation and distribution is really easy and that the marked decides if it is hot or not… His advice is to create minimal application – simple application and then push it forward. All big players (e.g. google, flickr) have done it this ways…

With regard to the distribution methods for persuasion he referred over and over to social networks (and in particular facebook). His argument is that by these means one is able to reach many people in a trusted way. He compared this to the introduction of radio but highlighted the additional qualities. Overall he feels that Web 2.0 is only a worm up for all the applications to come on the mobile in the future.

At the center of the talk was that prediction that mobile devices will be within 15 years the main technology for persuasion. He argued that mobile phones are the greatest invention of human kind – more important than the writing and transportation systems (e.g. planes, cars). He explained why mobile phones are so interesting based on three metaphors: heart, wrist watch, magic wand.

Heart – we love our mobile phones. He argued that if users do not have their phone with them they miss it and that this is true love. Users form a very close relationship with their phone and spend more time with the phone than with anything/anyone else. He used the image of “mobile marriage”…

Wrist watch – the phone is always by our sides. It is part of the overall experience in the real world provding 3 functions: Concierge (reactive, can be asked for advice, relationship base on trust), Coach (proactive, coach comes to me tells me, pushing advice), and Court Jester (entertains us, be amused by it, create fun with content that persuades).

Magic wand – phones have amazing and magical capabilities. A phone provides humans with a lot of capabilities (remote communication, coordination, information access) that empower many things.

Given this very special relationship it may be a supplement for our decision making (or more general our brain). The phone will advise us what to do (e.g. navigation systems tell us where to go) and we love it. We may have this in other areas, too – getting told what movie to see, what food to eat, when to do exercise, … not fully convinced ;-)

He gave a very interesting suggestion how to design good mobile applications. Basically to create a mobile application the steps are: (1) Identify the essence of the application, (2) strip everything of the application that is not essential to provide this and (3) you have a potentially compelling mobile application. Have heard of this before, nevertheless it seems that still features sell but it could by a change with the next generation.

He provided some background on the basics of persuasion. For achieving a certain target behavior you need 3 things – and all at the same time: 1. sufficient motivation (they need to want to do it), 2. Ability to do what they want (you either have to train them or to make it very easy – making easer is better) and 3. a trigger. After the session someone pointed out that this is similar to what you have in crime (means, motive, opportunity ;-)

For creating persuasive technologies there are 3 central pairs describing motivation:

  • Instant pleasure and gratification vs. instant pain
  • Anticipation of good or hope vs. anticipation of the bad or fear (it is noted that hope is the most important motivator
  • Social acceptance vs. social rejection

When designing systems it is essential to go for simplicity. He named the following five factors that influence simplicity: (1) money, (2) physical effort, (3) brain cycles, (4) social deviation, and (5) non-routine. Antonio pointed out that this links to work of Gerd Gigerenzer at MPI work on intuitive intelligence.

[1] Gigerenzer, G. Gut feelings: The intelligence of the unconscious. New York: Viking Press.

Google chrome, secrets, the power of search engines

Lots of people downloaded Google chrome during the conference. And it seemed that google managed to keep secret till the date it is launched – they managed that before with other released… given the quality of the software that seems realy hard - or not?

How does google manage to keep its developments secret? One random though is: keeping a secret is much easier if you have control over everyone's search engine and can decided what shows up and what not…

Just thinking of this it shows again the power the search engine company has over the user… Perhaps I should again get used to searching regularly with different search engines (e.g. http://www.cuil.com/ crawls and have their own index). Perhaps there could be a small project to create a search site that combines results from different sources (... hostory repeats... metasearch engines were popular in the 90s before altavista came along).

PS: seems that the new browser works reasonably fast and rendering is OK.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

MobileHCI 2008 Tutorial

The conference on mobile human computer interaction (MobileHCI 2008) started today in Amsterdam with the tutorial and workshop day.

I am chairing the tutorials and we tried a new approach for the tutorial, having 6 sessions/chapters that all together make up an introduction to mobile HCI. After 10 years of mobile HCI it seems important to help new members of the community to quickly learn about the field. The presentations were given by experts in the field that had 1 hour each for their topics. We had unexpected high attendence (the room with 100 seats was nearly always full). Have a look at the slides:

Text input for mobile devices by Scott MacKenzie
Scott gave an overview of different input means (e.g. key-based, stylus, predictive, virtual keyboard), parameters relevant for designing and assessing mobile text input (e.g., writing speed, cognitive load) and issues related to the context of use (e.g., walking/standing).

Mobile GUIs and Mobile Visualization by Patrick Baudisch

Patrick introduced input and output options for mobile devices. He will talk about the design process, prototyping and assessment of user interfaces, trade-offs related to the design of mobile GUIs and different possible interaction styles.

Understanding Mobile User Experience by Mirjana Spasojevic
Mirjana discussed different means for studying mobile user needs and evaluating the user experience. This includes explorative studies and formal evaluations (in the lab vs. in the field), including longitudinal pilot deployments. The lecture discusses traditional HCI methods of user research and how they need to be adapted for different mobile contexts and products.

Context-Aware Communication and Interaction by Albrecht Schmidt
Albrecht gave an overview of work in context-awareness and activity recognition that is related to mobile HCI. He discussed how sharing of context in communication applications can improve the user experience. The lecture explained how perception and sensing can be used to acquire context and activity information and show examples how such information can be exploited.

Haptics, audio output and sensor input in mobile HCI by Stephen Brewster
Stephen discussed the design space for haptics, audio output as well as sensor and gesture input in mobile HCI. Furthermore he assessed resulting interaction methods and implications for the interactive experience.

Camera-based interaction and interaction with public displays by Michael Rohs
Michael introduced camera based interaction with mobile devices; this included a assessment of optical markers, 2D-barcodes and optical flow as well as techniques related to augmented reality. In this context he addressed interaction with public displays, too.

You can also download the complete tutorial including all 6 chapters in a single PDF file (16MB).