Category Archives: hci

Research at the Stuttgart HCI Lab

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So far I’ve spent 8 weeks working with the HCI Lab in the SimTech building of the University of Stuttgart. During my time here, I’ve not only been working on IRES projects, but I’ve also seen (and sometimes participated in) research conducted by members of the HCI lab.

For example, a few weeks ago I participated in a focus group conducted by Dr. Niels Henze, in which we discussed the options for a movable/portable public display. The selling point for such a device was that it could either be moved around by a user, or it could move itself around (even on walls!) with a treaded drive system located below the display.

I also participated in an experiment guided by Mariam Hassib, in which I was asked my views about ways to navigate through menus of a smart-watch. Basically, the watch can detect your hand gestures, including individual finger movements and positions, which can then be translated into commands for navigation within the devices’ apps.

Finally, I had the great experience of being able to watch the PhD defense of Dr. Alireza Sahami. During his defense he gave a presentation on his work in the Stuttgart HCI Lab, much of which focused around emotive communication though digital devices such as smartphones.

Overall, I feel I have a pretty good idea of the kind of innovative research that the Stuttgart HCI Lab produces, and I’m glad to have absorbed some of their techniques and approaches into my own methodologies. The lab has provided us with a wealth of equipment to use during our project, much of which was completely new to me and took some time to get used to. This includes eye-tracker cameras, electroencephalograms (EEGs), heart-rate monitors, skin conductance monitors (GSR), body temperature sensors, and respiration sensors. In particular, our IRES project has focused on eye-tracking and its effectiveness as a tool for measuring cognitive workload. However, I’ll go into more detail about that in a future post.

Introduction to HCI Lab, Getting started in IRES projects, and thank you’s

So this is my first post on this blog, which was designed to chronicle the thoughts and experiences of the students privileged enough to participate in the 2014 “International Research Experience for Students” organized by the University of New Hampshire. It is part of a four-year program in which students spend their summer working with the HCI lab at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, under the advisement of Dr. Albrecht Schmidt.

I have to say it’s been quite an experience, and much more than I was expecting (in a good way, of course). Professors Andrew Kun and Tom Miller at the University of New Hampshire set me up with a great opportunity for career- and personal-development, and I hope I’ve delivered up to their expectations. I’ve certainly surpassed my own.

Most of our time in Stuttgart has been spent working and researching with the HCI lab, but we’ve also spent a great deal traveling Europe. I will go into further detail about both of those aspects in further blog posts. I’ll use this post to give some background to the future posts I’ll make.

My background is in Human Factors Psychology, and I’m currently a doctoral student at Clemson University’s Visual Perception & Performance Lab. Human Factors has been a big part of HCI for a long time now, and I’m glad I’ve been able to contribute to this multidisciplinary trend in scientific research.

When I got here, I had a general idea that our IRES team would be working on a research project involving eye-tracking, cognitive workload, and human-computer interaction with visual and auditory displays. However over the course of the last 8 weeks, I and my IRES colleagues have formulated a project that (in my opinion) has the potential to contribute much to these sub-fields while also setting the stage for future IRES projects.

I’d also like to say, before I go on to future posts, a big thanks to everyone at the Stuttgart HCI Lab, including-but-not-limited-to Albrecht, Bastian, Yomna, Stefan, Niels, Markus, Mauro, Mariam, Ali, Miriam, Katrin, Sven, Lars, Michael, and anyone else I might have forgotten (sorry if I did!)

Stay tuned for more updates about my experience in the IRES program.