Category Archives: hci

HCI Summer School in Łódź, Poland

Hello, it’s Michelle again, writing this from Łódź, Poland! We are currently at the Lodz University of Technology for a week-long HCI summer school. It has been a great experience so far, and I’ve been able to meet HCI postdoc students and professors from all over Europe while exploring a country I’ve never visited before.

summer school group photo

All of the summer school participants I’ve gotten to know have been extremely friendly and helpful. We were split into six groups, with one IRES student in each group. My group consists of Toni (an Eastern German phD student in Austria), Paulina (a Polish phD student in Sweden), Jan (from the Czech Republic), and Jakob (one of the Stuttgart postdocs). We’ve all gotten along very well, with each of them telling me about their respective academic experiences. Toni has given me great encouragement regarding graduate school and such.

jan, paulina, toni, and michelle at lodz uni

I also finally met someone younger than me for the first time this summer – Mikołaj, the younger brother of the summer school organizer, who is volunteering for the program. He thinks I’m very lucky to have been able to enroll in this school as an undergraduate, as that’s normally not allowed, which has given me even more appreciation for this opportunity.

Mikołaj and Michelle at the closing dinner

Fourth Week in Oldenburg

In our fourth week at Oldenburg, many exciting events occurred, including the Fourth of July and Orit and Andrew’s visit.

On Independence Day, I made an American flag fruit tart that I brought to work. Later in the day, Susanne Boll (the professor in charge) invited us to her home for hot dogs, and I made another American-themed dessert: brownies.

fruit tart

Susanne tried to translate what a “brownie” is for her young children, starting with “cookie,” then “chocolate cake,” and finally settling with “chocolate bar,” which is rather accurate.

Michelle and multimodal poster

Later in the week, Orit and Andrew visited, and the three of us IRES Oldenburg students presented our research so far through a poster presentation and demos. I showed my work in Multimodal Attention Arousal in Head-Mounted Displays, where I’ve been working with Arduino, vibration motors/speakers, and 3D-rendering/3D-printing in order to figure out user perception of urgency in different audio and vibro-tactile parameters. The motivation behind my research is alarm fatigue in staff working in safety-critical environments such as hospitals, where the vast amount of loud alarm noises as well as false alarms creates desensitization.

Michelle demo with Andrew

June in Stuttgart

Hallo!

My name is Lauren Futami, and I’m spending June and July here in Stuttgart, Germany, working in the Human Computer Interaction Lab at Stuttgart University.  I’m here with two other students – Midori Yang from Wellesley College and Calvin Liang from Tufts University.  We each have our own projects and supervising graduate students to guide us in our work – I’m working with Tonja and Pascal (they’re both incredibly nice and fun to talk to!).  They’re working on a virtual reality research project and the effects of haptic feedback on users in the virtual environment.  This haptic feedback is possible in the virtual world by using drones equipped with various materials that float in front of the user so that when the user physically reaches out to touch something in the virtual environment, she can actually “feel” the virtual object when she consequently touches the drone.

My project for the summer is to create an environment that naturally causes the user to interact with the drone in three different ways – reaching out to touch an object (active), having the drone bump into the user (passive), and having the user reach out and grab an item from the drone (like a key or a coin).  I decided to create an underwater scenario in which the user will reach out to touch a fish, feel jellyfish tentacles as they swim by, and pick up a worm from a fishing line that conveniently hangs in front of the user.  I have never worked with Unity before, and it’s been a bit difficult to get used to working with it, but I’ve learned so much about its capabilities, and I’m having fun solving the problems that arise in my underwater scene.  Luckily, Tonja and Pascal helped set me up with a monitor, so I have a large screen to spread all of my thoughts out.

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That’s not all, though!  Tonja, Pascal, and I are reading through a virtual reality book together filled with useful background information on the technical and behavioral aspects of VR!   We have these weekly meetings where we discuss the most recent chapter we’ve read, and I’m having a lot of fun listening to Tonja (who has incredible knowledge on the psychology and human behaviors to VR) and Pascal (who knows all about the technology and physics behind VR).  I’ve really been enjoying the work!

Midori, Calvin, and I have also been traveling a bit!  We were able to attend a day workshop on wearable technology in Saarbrücken, a small city near the German/France border.  This is us taking a picture outside of the lab at the university there.  Even though the abbreviation is MCI (for Mensch-Computer-Interaktion), we liked to think the “i” was just a lowercase “L” so it really stood for “Midori, Calvin, and Lauren.”

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I also traveled to London a few weeks ago!  I went with Midori while Calvin went to Barcelona to visit his friend there.  Midori and I both have never been to London before, but we both really enjoyed it!  We did a lot of sightseeing and just general walking around.  While we were in London, we were also able to visit Stonehenge, a place I’ve always seen in pictures but never thought I would actually get to see in person.

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We also just celebrated 4th of July with the lab!  Every year, the American interns throw a barbecue for the entire lab, so we did our best this year to bring in some fun American cheer!  It was a strange feeling coming into the lab on the 4th of July and having everyone treat it like a regular work day while I talked to my friends back in Boston who were already celebrating.  Even though it was just us three organizing the barbecue, I think we managed to pull it off pretty well.  I had fun and I think others did too!  This is mostly everyone who was at the barbecue (Calvin took the photo).

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Anyway, we’re all off to Łódź, Poland tomorrow for the weeklong summer school on methods in HCI at Łódź University of Technology.  I’m excited to visit Poland and learn even more about HCI!

Bis dann!

 

 

Third Week In Oldenburg

In our third week in Oldenburg, we continued to make progress on our projects. I am helping my supervisor with the EyeSee360 application. EyeSee360 is an application that maps the 3D position objects around the user. This allows a user to have an idea of where out-of-view objects without having to look for them. After going through a crash course in 3D programming and seemingly endless bug fixing, I finished porting the program to the Hololens.

We have been taking advantage of Germany’s central location in Europe to travel on the weekends. Last week, we flew to Milan where we saw the sights and ate delicious Italian cuisine.


Duomo
At Duomo di Milano

This past weekend, we traveled closer to home and visited Germany’s Heide and Serengeti Parks. We had a blast going on all of the rides and seeing the animals.


GhostBusters
Waiting for the Ghostbusters ride at Heide Park

Lemurs
Lemurs at Serengeti Park

Introducing the 2017 IRES team

We are pleased to introduce the six students who will participate in the 2017 HCI in Ubicomp IRES program. The program is a collaborative effort between Andrew Kun of UNH and Orit Shaer of Wellesley College, and it is funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE). We are grateful for the support.

This year we received a number of exceptionally strong applications. After careful deliberation, we selected the six students listed below to participate in the program. This summer three of them will conduct research at the HCILab at the University of Stuttgart under the supervision of Albrecht Schmidt, and three will work at the University of Oldenburg under the supervision of Susanne Boll. Congratulations to all six! We are looking forward to a productive and fun summer.

Lauren Futami is a junior majoring in Media Arts and Sciences at Wellesley College. She is greatly interested in human computer interaction, product design, and video production. She is also excited to participate in research to discover how large displays and augmented reality can combine to engage people in new learning techniques.

Dana Hsiao is a senior at Wellesley College majoring in Computer Science. She is excited about the potential that Augmented and Virtual Reality have in both video games and practical pursuits. She is also interested in the processes and methods of computer security.

Maleah Maxie is a junior at Wellesley College. She is majoring in Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences and Music. Next year, she will be studying the effectiveness of digital technology in the classroom. She is interested in the safety implications of user interface design in autonomous vehicles and other technology critical to our society’s infrastructure.

Calvin Liang is a master’s student in Human Factors at Tufts University where he also earned his B.S. in Engineering Psychology. He currently conducts Brain-Computer Interaction research under Professor Rob Jacob. Calvin is most interested in using technology as a way to optimize the human experience and hopes to pursue a PhD in HCI in the future. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, reading, and listening to podcasts.

Michelle Quin is a sophomore at Wellesley College double majoring in Media Arts & Sciences and English. She is currently focusing on HCI and Front-End Web Development, and will be studying Computer Science with an emphasis on Machine Learning at the University of Oxford her junior year. Michelle hopes to go into HCI graduate studies in the future and is interested in working to make user interfaces more intuitive as well as reflective of today’s diverse society.

Midori Yang is a sophomore at Wellesley College majoring in Media Arts and Sciences. She currently works at the college’s HCI lab designing applications for large touchscreen surfaces, but wants to branch out into interactive design for mixed/virtual reality. She is interested in designing interfaces that can be used to facilitate digital design experiences for non-technological artists.