Category Archives: nsf

2015 UNH IRES: HCI student summer research experience in Germany

HCI Lab, Stuttgart

The UNH HCI Lab is happy to announce the 2015 UNH International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program. Within the program we plan to fund 3 undergraduate and 3 graduate students to conduct research at the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab of Professor Albrecht Schmidt at the University of Stuttgart. Professor Schmidt and his lab are among the world leaders in the field of HCI. Successful applicants will participate in the program between June 1 and July 31, 2015. They will receive full financial support for participation, covering items such as airfare, room and board, health insurance, as well as a $500/week stipend. The total value of the financial package is approximately $8,500 for 9 weeks.

Student research within the UNH IRES program will focus on developing and testing tools for estimating cognitive load in the domains of in-vehicle user interfaces, knowledge acquisition, speech interfaces, or similar areas.

2014 UNH IRES students visiting Ludwigsburg palace in Stuttgart

UNH IRES students will live and work in Stuttgart. Stuttgart is a city of about 600,000, where students will encounter history around every corner. For example, Stuttgart is believed by many to be the cradle of the automobile, and students can visit the Mercedes-Benz museum that is devoted to the history of this iconic brand.

The program is funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of International and Integrative Activities. We are grateful for the support.

To learn more about the program (including student experiences from 2014) and to apply, click on the UNH IRES menu at the top of this page, or here.

First Lab Visit in UNH IRES Program: Hasso Plattner Institute


On June 30th, 2014 we met with Dominik Schmidt at Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI). HPI was Founded in 1998 and is the first, and still the only entirely privately funded university college in Germany.


Dominik is currently doing research in human-computer interaction. More specifically, in his research, he scales natural user interfaces to span entire rooms and creates novel interaction technologies and techniques with the goal to enable seamless and powerful interaction across physical space.Before joining Patrick Baudisch at HPI’s Human Computer Interaction Lab in Potsdam, Germany, Dominik received his Ph.D. from  Lancaster University, UK, where he was part of the Embedded Interactive Systems (EIS) group. You can check out his blog here.


The objective of the human computer interaction department at HPI is to unify the virtual world of the computer with the physical world of the user into a single space. During our visit we got a glimpse of a few projects they are working on. The most intriguing piece of technology they have is an interactive floor. One research project Dominik showed us is GravitySpace. GravitySpace is a new approach to tracking people and objects indoors. Unlike traditional solutions based on cameras, GravitySpace reconstructs scene data from a pressure-sensing floor. While the floor is limited to sensing objects in direct contact with the ground, GravitySpace reconstructs contents above the ground by first identifying objects based on their texture and then applying inverse kinematics.

A picture during our visit. This is the room below the interactive floor. 
GravitySpace recognizes people and objects. We use a mirror-metaphor to show how GravitySpace identifies users and tracks their location and poses, solely based on the pressure imprints they leave on the floor.
 HPI says

Smart rooms support users by offering not only a series of convenient functions, like home automation, but also by acting pro-actively on the user’s behalf. To this end, such rooms need to know their own geometry as well as the people and their actions within it.”

The GravitySpace prototype senses pressure at 1mm resolution and projects across an active area of 8 m² in a single seamless piece–a 10x larger version of multitoe.

Check out this video of GravitySpace:

Another projects they showed us is called Haptic Turk Wwalk-Up VR where a user can use his/her friends for motion based feedback in a virtual world. This is a great solution because it not only involves your friends it is also a cheap solution to not buying an expensive motion platform.
Fully immersive experience with motion feedback based on People

Week 1: Introduction to Eye Tracking and Physiological Sensor Technology

First Week Technology

During our first week at the University of Stuttgart we received a plethora of technology that was mainly new to all of us. It was a very exciting week. I felt like a kid in a toy store being able to pay with everything. The technology we played with were:

I am very fortunate to have already been exposed to such advanced technologies because I will most likely be using these devices later on in my education and career. Especially now that eye trackers and brain computing interfaces are becoming more and more commercialized.

Introductions and of Course, Thank Yous

Michael Nguyen

Hi, my name is Michael Nguyen and I’d like to first introduce myself to the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) blog page as one of the fortunate students in IRES program.

I’m currently an undergraduate student studying industrial engineering at Montana State University-Bozeman (MSU). My background as an undergrad ranges from operations management and process improvement to human factors, usability, and interaction design. I also have a background in nonprofits being a Student Ambassador for the Montana State University Alumni Foundation where I help advance MSU’s resources . At Montana State University I have performed research under Nicholas J. Ward at the Western Transportation Institute, which is the country’s largest National University Transportation Center focused on rural transportation issues. I hope to continue my education after receiving my bachelors degree in the realm of user experience.

I will be sharing my experiences throughout the UNH IRES program in this blog.

Following Drea in suit, I would also like to thank everyone at the University of Stuttgart for being more than accommodating to myself and the group during our stay. Thank you Professor Albrecht Schmidt, Anja Mebus, Bastian Pfleging, Yomna Abdelrahman, Markus Funk, Miriam Greis, Mariam A. Hassib, Lars Lischke, Alireza Sahami, Stefan Schneegass, Florian Alt, Nora Broy, Sven Mayer, Mauro Avila, Katrin Wolf, and anyone else I might have forgotten. 

HCI lab in Hasso-Plattner Institute

Is your office messy with papers/documents all over the place? Couldn’t find the right documents you are looking for? How easy would that be, if you could spread all your documents on the floor and work with them? I believe you don’t have to wait too long to see this technology in your office and home.

The researchers in HCI lab at Hasso-Plattner Institute are working on a project called ‘GravitySpace’ – an interactive high-resolution pressure-sensitive floor. The thick glass floor get projection from the floor below and can detects people and objects on the floor above. The floor can be used simultaneously by multiple users. The floor also allows multiple users to engage in a same task, for instance: playing a game. Check out the YouTube video here. This could be the solution for future office/home.

My friends (Michael, Micah, Drea) and I visited this lab located just outside of Berlin at Potsdam, Germany, in June 30th, 2014. Thank you, Dr. Dominik Schmidt, for showing us your exciting projects. It was very nice to talk with a group of PhD students and researchers.

Multiple user sharing the floor.
Multiple users sharing the floor.
Projection on the floor from a mirror.
Projection on the floor from a mirror.