Thursday, 26 November 2009

Enrico Rukzio visits us in Essen, projections everywhere

On Wednesday and Thursday Enrico visited our group in Essen. He gave a part of my lecture on user interface engineering talking about mobile interaction with the real world. He include interesting examples, such as QR-code/NFC/RFID use in Asia, SixthSense project (camera projection system to wear around the neck) and handheld mobile projections. Enrico also explained some of the multi-tag work he does at Lancaster University [1].

In the lecture we talked briefly about future devices and interfaces. I mentioned one example: projection in the large - on building scale. The 3D visualization overplayed on buildings seem impressive - at least when looking at the video. NuFormer ( has created several interesting projections - but I never have seen one in the real - so far...

Looking at the 6th sense project and on the building projections we wondered how important in may become in the future to make research results in ubicomp/HCI understandable and accessible to a wide audience. Will this replace papers in the future?

[1] Seewoonauth, K., Rukzio, E., Hardy, R., and Holleis, P. 2009. Touch & connect and touch & select: interacting with a computer by touching it with a mobile phone. In Proceedings of the 11th international Conference on Human-Computer interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (Bonn, Germany, September 15 - 18, 2009). MobileHCI '09. ACM, New York, NY, 1-9. DOI=

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

MUM 2009 in Cambridge, no technical solution for privacy

The 8th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM 2009) was held in Cambridge, UK. The conference is fairly specific and had an acceptance rate of about 33% - have a look at the table of content for an overview. Florian Michahelles presented our paper on a design space for ubiquitous product recommendation systems [1]. Our work contributes a comprehensive design space that outlines design options for product recommendation systems using mobile and ubiquitous technologies. We think that over the next years mobile recommendation systems have the potential to change the way we shop in the real world. It probably will be normal to have access in-depth information an price comparison while browsing in physical stores. The idea has been around for a while, e.g. the pocket bargain finder presented at the first ubicomp conference [2]. In Germany we see also a reaction of some electronics stores that asked users NOT to use a phone or camera in the shop.

The keynote on Tuesday morning was by Martin Rieser on the Art of Mobility. He blogs on this topic on
The examples he presented in his keynote concentrated on locative and pervasive media. He characterized locative media as media that by social interaction that is linked to a specific place. He raised the awareness that mapping is very important for our perception of the world, using several different subjective maps - I particular liked the map encoding travel times to London . A further interesting examples was a project by Christian Nold: Bio mapping - emotional mapping of journeys. QR or other bar code markers on cloth (large and on the outside) have a potential ... I see this now.

In the afternoon was panel on "Security and Privacy: Is it only a matter of time before a massive loss of personal data or identity theft happens on a smart mobile platform?" with David Cleevely, Tim Kindberg, and Derek McAuley. I found the discussion very inspiring but in the end I doubt more and more that technical solutions will solve the problem. I think it is essential to consider the technological, social and legal framework in which we live. If I would need to live in a house that provides absolute safety (without a social and legal framework) it would be probably not a very nice place… hence I think here we need really interdisciplinary research in this domain.

[1] von Reischach, F., Michahelles, F., and Schmidt, A. 2009. The design space of ubiquitous product recommendation systems. In Proceedings of the 8th international Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (Cambridge, United Kingdom, November 22 - 25, 2009). MUM '09. ACM, New York, NY, 1-10. DOI=

[2] Brody, A. B. and Gottsman, E. J. 1999. Pocket Bargain Finder: A Handheld Device for Augmented Commerce. InProceedings 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, 44-51.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

PhD Defense of Elina Vartiainen

Finland is one country in Europe were it seems pretty hard to get to in the morning from Germany or Austria. If you have a meeting before 11 am you have to fly the day before.

I was invited to Helsinki to be opponent (together with Kaisa Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila) for the PhD defense of Elina Vartiainen at Helsinki University of Technology. The first time I came across work she was involved in was at CHI 2006 in Montreal. She worked with Virpi Roto on the Minimap web browser [1]. Last year in a doctoral colloquium in Finland we first discussed some of her work and I was excited to read it in more detail for the PhD exam.

Dissertations in practical areas of computer science that are done in company research labs are at the same time limited and exciting. What can be done is often limited by the company needs but on the other hand it offers the great opportunity to get things out large scale and collect experiences from many users (e.g. you may want to check the ImageExchange project, where the studies were also part of Elina's dissertation).

I like the finnish system of having a long public defense. We discussed about 3 hours with Elina and I enjoyed it :-)

There are two general but important issues I think I take away from our discussion:
  1. do question the research process including the steps (e.g. hardware first or applications first), the approach (e.g. human need centred vs. design driven) and the setup of the teams (who is needed to get a successful product? Business, law, design, hardware?).
  2. innovation for web services on a global scale comes not from a single company or small set of highly skilled developers. Creating opportunities for a larger number developers (with skills limited skills, e.g. like web development) will be the key to create all the applications people need all over the world. Having a single instance controlling what can be developed does scale.

Guess what was the first web browser on a mobile device I used on a mobile device? It was an Apple Messagepad - and the browser was PocketWeb developed at TecO in Karlsruhe (where I worked from 1998-2001), see [2] and

[1] Roto, V., Popescu, A., Koivisto, A., and Vartiainen, E. 2006. Minimap: a web page visualization method for mobile phones. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Montréal, Québec, Canada, April 22 - 27, 2006). R. Grinter, T. Rodden, P. Aoki, E. Cutrell, R. Jeffries, and G. Olson, Eds. CHI '06. ACM, New York, NY, 35-44. DOI=

[2] Stefan Gessler and Andreas Kotulla. PDAs as mobile WWW browsers. Proceedings of the Second World Wide Web Conference '94: Mosaic and the Web. Chicago, Illinois, USA, 1994.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Best Paper at AmI 2009, Visions

Florian Alt presented our work on pervasive advertising, in particular on creating dynamic user profiles in the real world [1]. This research was carried out together with colleagues in marketing and software systems and implemented in one of our course. We are proud that it got named best paper at AmI 2009! Another paper to look at in this context was presented by Jörg Müller; it looked at pervasive advertisement utilizing screens on public phone boxes. The study is amazing in size (20 displays all over Münster, 17 participating shops) and duration (1 year, 24/7) [2]. Even though the results are not completely conclusive it is very interesting to read about the experience of such a large deployment real world in a research context.

This year at AmI included a vision panel with Juan Carlos Augusto, Florian Michahelles, Jörg Müller, Donald Patterson, which I chaired with Norbert Streiz. The main questions for us were: Is there a need for a vision? What are drivers for a new Vision? And what is the value of having a technology vision? The discussion was very diverse touching on various topics. One interesting observation is that many people - including me - see that a mobile personal device (what now is the mobile phone) will stay at the center of a new vision. A further very insightful comment was that we as a community should try to develop more specific visions (e.g. how will education be in 2020, or how will public transport be in 2030) rather than have a Version 2.0 of the overall vision. I think such more specific visions could be valuable to guide research in Ambient Intelligence in the next years.

[1] Florian Alt, Moritz Balz, Stefanie Kristes, Alireza Sahami Shirazi, Julian Mennenöh, Albrecht Schmidt, Hendrik Schröder and Michael Goedicke: Adaptive User Profiles in Pervasive Advertising Environments. Proceedings of the 3rd European Conference on Ambient Intelligence (AmI '09). Springer Berlin / Heidelberg. Salzburg, Austria 2009.

[2] Jörg Müller, Antonio Krüger: MobiDiC: Context Adaptive Digital Signage with Coupons. Proceedings of the 3rd European Conference on Ambient Intelligence (AmI '09). Springer Berlin / Heidelberg. Salzburg, Austria 2009.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Keynote by Frits Grotenhuis at AMI-2009

In the opening keynote of AMI 2009 Frits Grotenhuis (who stepped in for Emil Aarts) looked back at the last 10 years ambient intelligence. In his talk he showed a number of examples of devices that Philips created in this time, including iCat, the Entertaible, Ambilight, and medical devices. He discussed briefly the forces in such developments between market-pull and technology-push and it became evident that many products in this domain are more technology push than market-pull.

I liked the reference back to the Electronic Poem at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, which must have been at that time an amazing large scale installation (creating "surround sound" with more than 200 speakers).

The update of the vision (title of the keynote was Ambient Intelligence 2.0: Towards Synergetic Prosperity) suggests a model where the human is in the center and the surrounded by the Mind (well being), Community (participation), Body (health), and Environment (responsibility). I found this did not offer many new insights as by now the human centered approach is widely accepted. Looking at the examples it seems that the vision is very much centering on the "rich" world's problem… perhaps it is really hard to update a vision.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

From the Internet of Things to the Web of Things

The central role of ICT becomes very visible when it does not work. Sometimes for the good as I was late arriving at Düsseldorf airport but the Airberlin check-in system was down for a few minutes - just enough that I was still in time :-)

In the evening I met Prof. Lorenz Hilty, who gave a talk in the afternoon at ETH Zurich. I missed the talk but after the interesting and though provoking dinner conversation I decided I should finally really read his book [1] - perhaps over Christmas. Meeting with Friedemann Mattern and Hans Gellersen was very inspiring and I hope we get a change to have future joint projects.

Looking out over Zürich we talked about the transformation from the internet of things to the world wide web of things. The use of prototcol seems a little technical detail, but in my eye it may have a major impact. The WWW of things is creating a world of networked artefacts (much like the internet of things) but is completely based on Web protocols (e.g. http, RESTful web services). By working with web protocols the objects can easily become part of the web and interact with web-platforms and applications on the www (e.g. facebook, twitter, etc.). I expect by having a WWW of things we enable many more developers to create new and exciting applications on top of the internet of things. There are many challenging research questions. I am particularly interested in how will a good platform look like that empowers web programmers to create and distribute applications on the Web of things. I think we should run a workshop on this in the near future!

[1] Information Technology and Sustainability: Essays on the Relationship between Information Technology and Sustainable Development. Lorenz M. Hilty. 2008.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Large pixels along the underpass

In the refurbished railway station (not yet finished) there is an interesting new pixel display in one main underpass. One wall is covered with a display. It is about 10 pixel (probably about 4 meters) high and several hundred pixels long (have not counted/measured them). It changes colors and shows writing (so far not really exciting).

How cool would it be if there is a freely accessible programmable web-service to control these pixel? I would guess people could create all sorts of interesting content… Perhaps people would start to bargain to get their 5 minutes of virtual graffiti shown…

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Tangible, Embedded, and Reality-Based Interaction

Together with Antonio's group we looked at new forms of interaction beyond the desktop. The journal paper Tangible, Embedded, and Reality-Based Interaction [1] gives overview and examples of recent trends in human computer interaction and is a good starting point to learn about these topics.

Abstract: Tangible, embedded, and reality-based interaction are among novel concepts of interaction design that will change our usage of computers and be part of our daily life in coming years. In this article, we present an overview of the research area of tangible, embedded, and reality-based interaction as an area of media informatics. Potentials and challenges are demonstrated with four selected case studies from our research work.

[1] Tanja Döring, Antonio Krüger, Albrecht Schmidt, Johannes Schöning: Tangible, Embedded, and Reality-Based Interaction. it - Information Technology 51 (2009) 6 , S. 319-324. (pdf)

Our PERCI Article in IEEE Internet Computing

Base on work we did together with DoCoMo Eurolabs in Munich we have published the article "Perci: Pervasive Service Interaction with the Internet of Things" in the IEEE Internet Computing special issue on the Internet of Things edited by Frédéric Thiesse and Florian Michahelles.

The paper discusses the linking of digital resources to the real world. We investigated how to augment everyday objects with RFID and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags to enable simpler ways for users to interact with service. We aim at creating a digital identities of real world objects and by this integrating them into the Internet of Things and associating them with digital information and services. In our experiments we explore how these objects can facilitate access to digital resources and support interaction with them-for example, through mobile devices that feature technologies for discovering, capturing, and using information from tagged objects. See [1] for the full article.

[1] Gregor Broll, Massimo Paolucci, Matthias Wagner, Enrico Rukzio, Albrecht Schmidt, and Heinrich Hußmann. Perci: Pervasive Service Interaction with the Internet of Things. IEEE Internet Computing. November/December 2009 (vol. 13 no. 6). pp. 74-81

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The computer mouse - next generation?

In my lecture on user interface engineering I start out with a short history of human computer interaction. I like to discuss ideas and inventions in the context of the people who did it, besides others I take about Vannevar Bush and his vision of information processing [1], Ivan Sutherland's sketchpad [2], Doug Engelbart's CSCW demo (including the mouse) [3], and Alan Kay's vision of the Dynabook [4].

One aspect of looking at the history is to better understand the future of interaction with computers. One typical question I ask in class is "what is the ultimate user interface" and typical answers are "direct interface to my brain - the computer will do what I think" and "mouse and keyboard" - both answers showing some insight…

As the mouse is still a very import input device (and probably for some time to come) there is a recent paper that I find really interesting. It looks at how the mouse could be enhanced - Nicolas Villar and his colleagues put really a lot of ideas together [5]. The paper is worthwhile to read - but if you don't have time at least watch it on youtube.

[1] Vannevar Bush, As we may think, Atlantic monthly, July 1945.
[2] Ivan Sutherland, "Sketchpad: A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System" Technical Report No. 296, Lincoln Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology via Defense Technical Information Center January 1963. (PDF, youtube).
[3] Douglas Engelbart, the demo 1968. (Overview, youtube)
[4] John Lees. The World In Your Own Notebook (Alan Kay's Dynabook project at Xerox PARC). The Best of Creative Computing. Volume 3 (1980)
[5] Villar, N., Izadi, S., Rosenfeld, D., Benko, H., Helmes, J., Westhues, J., Hodges, S., Ofek, E., Butler, A., Cao, X., and Chen, B. 2009. Mouse 2.0: multi-touch meets the mouse. In Proceedings of the 22nd Annual ACM Symposium on User interface Software and Technology (Victoria, BC, Canada, October 04 - 07, 2009). UIST '09. ACM, New York, NY, 33-42. DOI=