Friday, 25 June 2010

Mobile phones as educational technologies; Vivien visiting our lab

Vivien visited us in the lab and tried out a number of ideas for the project "mobile phones as a learning platform". She really enjoyed to test and comment new applications and devices and she felt for one day like a real researcher and at the same time really contribute insights from a end-user perspective - it is never too early to spark the fascination of research ;-)

Elba is currently putting together applications for a field study later this year. We plan to study of the use of mobile phones for teaching and revision in Panama with a large deployment supported by Nokia Research Center.

We think that mobile phones - especially as they are widely deployed around the world - offer a good alternative to laptop computers [1]. Our expectations are that the mobile phones provide similar benefits as a laptop in education without the drawbacks seen at the OLPC project. Especially the multimedia capabilities of phones and use while on the way are very tempting.

[1] Valderrama Bahamóndez, E. d. and Schmidt, A. 2010. A survey to assess the potential of mobile phones as a learning platform for panama. In Proceedings of the 28th of the international Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Atlanta, Georgia, USA, April 10 - 15, 2010). CHI EA '10. ACM, New York, NY, 3667-3672. DOI=

PS: if you are in Essen you have to see the Zeche Zollverein (a world cultural heritage; the most beautiful coal mine in the world)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Talk at Automotive Interiors Expo 2010

Today I gave a talk at Automotive Interiors Expo 2010 in Stuttgart. Traditionally this fair is about car seats, wood for the dashboard, colors and lights - and they are still there. The talks were much more about digital technologies and there was a lot about the human machine interface. We are very interested in this topic (last year we started the conference series) and published an article about automotive UI research in IEEE Pervasive [1]. The slides for my talk, entitled: "Multimodal human-computer interaction in the car Novel interface and application concepts" are online available. I first introduced pervasive computing, then talked a little about an application platform for the car, and then gave an overview of some of our recent projects on automotive user interfaces, in particular about:
  • Gazemarks, support for attention switching by eye tracking [2]
  • Vibrofeedback in the steering wheel [3]
  • Text input while driving [4] and gesture interaction on the steering wheel [5]
  • Video communication in the car [6]
  • The design space for automotive user interfaces [7, 8]
  • our open source driving simulator [9, 10] for evaluating attention demands of secondary tasks
When walking back I saw a concept car ( that has an interesting public display integrated in the backside.


[1] Schmidt, A., Spiessl, W., and Kern, D. 2010. Driving Automotive User Interface Research. IEEE Pervasive Computing 9, 1 (Jan. 2010), 85-88. DOI=
[2] Kern, D., Marshall, P., and Schmidt, A. 2010. Gazemarks: gaze-based visual placeholders to ease attention switching. In Proceedings of the 28th international Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Atlanta, Georgia, USA, April 10 - 15, 2010). CHI '10. ACM, New York, NY, 2093-2102. DOI=
[3] Kern,D., Hornecker,E., Marshall,P., Schmidt,A., Rogers, Y. 2009. Enhancing Navigation Information with Tactile Output Embedded into the Steering Wheel. In Proceedings of the 7th Int. Conference on Pervasive Computing 2009 (Pervasive 2009). Nara, Japan. Springer LNCS 5538, pp 42-58.
[4] Kern, D., Schmidt, A., Arnsmann, J., Appelmann, T., Pararasasegaran, N., and Piepiera, B. 2009. Writing to your car: handwritten text input while driving. In Proceedings of the 27th international Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Boston, MA, USA, April 04 - 09, 2009). CHI '09. ACM, New York, NY, 4705-4710. DOI=
[5] Pfeiffer, M., Kern, D., Schöning, J., Döring, T., Krüger, A., and Schmidt, A. 2010. A multi-touch enabled steering wheel: exploring the design space. In Proceedings of the 28th of the international Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Atlanta, Georgia, USA, April 10 - 15, 2010). CHI EA '10. ACM, New York, NY, 3355-3360. DOI=
[6] Grace Tai, Dagmar Kern, Albrecht Schmidt: Bridging the Communication Gap: A Driver-Passenger Video Link. In: Mensch und Computer 2009. Berlin 2009.
[7] Kern, D. and Schmidt, A. 2009. Design space for driver-based automotive user interfaces. In Proceedings of the 1st international Conference on Automotive User interfaces and interactive Vehicular Applications (Essen, Germany, September 21 - 22, 2009). AutomotiveUI '09. ACM, New York, NY, 3-10. DOI=
[8] Fotos of over 100 different car UIs from IAA 2010
[10] CARS: Open source software for the driving simulator.

Paluno opening at Zeche Zollverein

At the University of Duisburg-Essen we have founded paluno - The Ruhr Institute for Software Technology. Stefan Eicker, Klaus Pohl, Michael Goedicke, Volker Gruhn and me have joined forces and we bring together our expertise (and the expertise of our groups - in total about 70 people) to move software engineering forward. See the mission statement on our website:

Yesterday night we celebrated the new institute at Zeche Zollverein - it was a really enjoyable evening. In the talks and discussion it became very clear that dealing with complexity in the context of the real world is the central challenges for engineering software systems. The sizes of projects our partners in industry have to master are impressive and we constantly work on our teaching and education strategies to prepare students for this world… and looking at the students who went into industry we are successful ;-)

After the software engineering talks and panel we had impressive life performances by a group of singers performing musical hits and the comedian Frank Goosen. Life performances - especially in music and dance - are always a very strong reminder for me how poor digital technology is… even in 3d, full HD and Dolby surround ;-)