Category Archives: hci

Getting started: An Introduction to IRES

I’ll be using this first blog post as a sort of introduction. Throughout the next couple of weeks i’ll be writing about my experiences and thoughts throughout the UNH IRES program that I’ve been participating in this summer.

For starters UNH IRES is an “International Research Experience for Students” organized by the University of New Hampshire. It is part of a four year program where students spend their summer working in Germany at the HCI lab at the University of Stuttgart.

Now for a little information about myself. My name is Micah Lucas. I just got my BS in Electrical Engineering and am starting my MS in Electrical Engineering this fall at the University of New Hampshire.

Over the last several weeks, myself and the other three students chosen this year for the UNH IRES program have been working on our own group research project with the HCI lab. Additionally almost every weekend has been spent traveling to different places throughout Europe. My blog post will mostly be focusing on these things. I look forward to sharing these experiences.

UNH IRES group photo (from left to right: Micheal Nguyen, Rudra Timsina, Micah Lucas, Drea Fekety)

BMW Group R&D, Munich (7/21/2014)

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Last week, we went on a day-trip to Munich to visit some of the Stuttgart HCI Lab’s colleagues and collaborators. We first visited the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, but I will describe that visit in a different post. During the second half of the day, we went to the center for BMW Group’s Research and Technology (also in Munich).

The picture above was the only picture I could take during our visit to this facility (for obvious reasons). Even then, it was raining all day long so when we arrived we were absolutely soaked.

While we were there we met Nora Broy, who guided us through her department and showed us some projects currently in development (many of which were organized by Master’s students, which I thought was cool). Nora explained that many of the research efforts headed by the BMW R&D team are trying to establish what will be needed and/or popular in consumer vehicles 10 or 20 years in the future.

Much of the group’s research involved 3-dimensional displays, eye-tracking, navigation through menus (e.g., center console cluster displays), or some combination of these three things.

One piece of cool tech we saw was a “mirror box” which basically reflects parts of a 2-dimensional display in such a way that they appear 3-dimensional. We were also shown a few demonstrations of how a user can navigate through a menu by looking at areas of a display/interface. Overall, I was shown some great things, and I look forward to possibly seeing some of these things in future automobiles!

First week in HCI lab Stuttgart

This is my first blog posting on human computer interaction site of UNH. I am blogging about my travel experience, lab visits in Europe and the project I am working on during my stay in Stuttgart Germany.

My name is Rudra Timsina. I am an Electrical Engineering student at University of New Hampshire. I graduated from UNH with a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering in May 2014. I am attending UNH Graduate School from fall 2014. I am very thankful to Professor Kun and Professor Miller for providing me an opportunity to participate in a summer research project in Germany; International Research Experience for Students-a program of University of New Hampshire (UNH IRES).

It’s a great pleasure  for me to spend two months in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) lab in Stuttgart with three other friends. We are working with eye tracking devices, brain computer interfaces and biofeedback system to measure physiological responses induced as a result of cognitive load task and light illumination. We spent first few weeks learning new technologies that were needed for our project. We also spent some time reading literatures related to our project. We learned to use eye trackers (SMI, Facelab, tobii), EPOC-brain computer interface, and Nexus 10 – biofeedback system.

It was very exciting to meet a group of very nice people at HCI lab in Stuttgart. It was good to know about their interesting projects. Some of the projects were about augmented workplace with user defined tangibles, projects on public displays, large scale analysis of mobile notifications, project with driving simulators, etc.

I want to thank the whole HCI team at Stuttgart for helping us with housing setup, transportation, to get familiar with the city and project related assistance.

More post coming soon…

Working with a head mounted eye tracker.
Working with a head mounted eye tracker.

Eindhoven Technical University (TU/e), (7/7/2014)

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Dr. Jacques Terken of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) hosted a very interesting tour of the TU/e campus and the Industrial Design Department during our day-trip to Eindhoven a few weeks ago.

Much of the research we were shown had to do with the study of peripheral interaction, which incorporates elements from the fields of HCI, HF/E, and Industrial Engineering.

We were first shown the department’s five-screen driving simulator, and we were given a chance to drive it ourselves. What set this simulator apart from others I’ve seen, though, is that they used a digital projector (behind the driver’s head) to display information ‘on top of’ the driving environment. This feature had been used to display information about the road ahead to a driver whose view is blocked by a freight truck in front of them. I think it’s a really innovative way of addressing problems with limited driver visibility.

We were also shown a demonstration of a blending of driving/commuting and social networking. Using hand gestures drivers in the simulation would be able to select and “Like” something about their driving environment, whether it be a cool car they saw, a place they drove past, or any number of other things someone might encounter in traffic. This was really interesting to me, and was the highlight of my trip to TU/e.

Big thanks to Jacques Terken, Saskia Bakker, Hanneke Hooft van Huysduynen, and Chao Wang for showing us around and sharing your work!

Hasso Plattner Institute, HCI Lab (6/30/2014)

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Dr. Dominik Schmidt of the Hasso-Plattner Institute (near Berlin) was a kind enough host to let the IRES team (myself, Micah Lucas, Michael Nguyen, and Rudra Timsina) visit his lab on Monday, June 30th. He and some of his colleagues gave us a tour of their impressive facility and demonstrated some of the research that they’re currently working on.

One really neat setup they had was an “interactive floor,” whose hardware took up space in two rooms in their building (one on top of the other). The idea is that you can expand your working area to include the floor, and the floor-projected display can detect whether a person is standing on it, sitting in a chair on it, or sitting on the floor. Your adjustable display within the entire floorspace available (comparable to a program window displayed on your desktop monitor) can move with you as you move around the room and allows you to “drag” your workspace with you to different areas of the floor. Very, very interesting implications for future workplace designs.

We were also shown some work with their human-powered virtual-reality simulation system, which is actually a simpler concept than it sounds. Basically, you wear a head-mounted display  while being held/carried in the air by four other people. Each person holds on to one ‘corner’ of your body, i.e., one person holds up the left leg, another one takes the right leg, one for the right arm, and another for the left arm. These four people get cues from the simulation about how to move the person they’re carrying (i.e., you) in order to simulate realistic motion and g-forces. It’s a surprisingly effective way to reduce the cost of expensive VR systems.

Overall, very neat work is being done in the HCI lab at the HPI campus. The researchers there are definitely people to keep an eye on for near-future HCI innovations.