Category Archives: stuttgart

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!

 

 

Hallo! Introductions, Travel, and Research

My name is Calvin Liang, and I’m a Human Factors masters student at Tufts University. I’m so excited to be doing research abroad in Germany and am super grateful to be a part of the IRES program. I’ll use this blog to discuss my experiences in Stuttgart and Europe, including my research and general adventures.

We’ve been in Stuttgart for one month now and I can’t believe that so much time has passed. This is my first time in Europe, so it took some time to adjust, but I can say that I am now comfortably settled. The U-Bahn, which intimidated me at first, isn’t so different from the T back in Boston (plus it has air conditioning!). I’ve learned some German to safely stumble through a conversation with ja’s, bitte’s, danke’s, and genau’s.

I’ve been looking forward to traveling throughout Europe since I got here. So far, I’ve been able to go to Barcelona and Paris. Both were beautiful and I enjoyed walking around (usually lost) the most. La Sagrada Familia and Jardin du Luxembourg were some of my favorites. We will spend next week in Poland, and after that, I have plans to go to Heidelberg and Berlin.

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However, it’s not all fun and games and biergarten’s here — we work hard too! I am not only surrounded by incredible PhD students doing interesting work, but I am also taking on a project of my own. Together with my supervisors, Jakob and Thomas, we are analyzing programming language proficiency using eye movements. It’s been a great experience understanding and using the eye tracker, and I have been able to consider how cool sensors are in general. I will start running experiments this week! Here’s a picture of Jakob, Thomas, and me.

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That’s all for now! Tschuss!

2016 UNH IRES student research – part 2

In its third and final year, the UNH International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program has selected eight students to conduct research in the HCI Lab at the University of Stuttgart, under the supervision of my colleague Albrecht Schmidt. The UNH IRES program is funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of International and Integrative Activities, and we are grateful for their support. The eight students were each assigned to a group within the HCI Lab and participated in the research activities of that group.

I asked each of the students to write a one-paragraph report on their summer experience in Stuttgart, focusing on their research, and on their cultural experience. This is the second installment of these brief reports, where we look at some of the research conducted by the students. (You can see the first installment here.)

Natalie Warren worked EEG recording devices:

Learning about EEG during the past two months under the supervision of Valentin and Jakob has been very rewarding. I’ve learned a huge amount about signal processing, experiment design, MATLAB, coding stimulus presentations, and brain activity, not to mention using EEG recording systems! We also got to put our knowledge to use early in the program by measuring electrical activity generated by the eye movement of some of our colleagues (like Anna, pictured here).

Whitney Fahnbulleh worked on augmenting human memory:

This summer I have been developing a photo gallery application for the “recall” project, a project that explores ways to augment human memory. I have been implementing various ways users can interact with the gallery through touch gestures, mid-air gestures, speech recognition, and keyboard input. My end goal for this project is to flesh out the user interface design and run user studies on the application. I have learned so much about computer vision this summer, and I look forward to working on future projects for recall.

Aditi Joshi worked on visualizing uncertainty:

For the past two months, I have been working on designing and implementing a study investigating uncertainty visualizations. In the future, the amount of uncertain information that we will have access to will increase and often they will have conflicting information. With this study, we are trying to understand how people aggregate uncertainty information so we can implement these techniques in future technologies. In this picture Anna is participating in the study and providing us with some great data.

Donovan O.A. Toure how the realism of virtual faces affects the human observer:

This summer, I worked on the perception of computer generated/virtual faces within the Uncanny Valley by analyzing brain waves as an individual is presented with virtual faces with varying levels of detail. In addition to learning about EEG, digital signal processing, and the uncanny valley, I worked on stimulus creation–including 3D modelling–to help carry out the experiment design.

2016 UNH IRES student research – part 1

In its third and final year, the UNH International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program has selected eight students to conduct research in the HCI Lab at the University of Stuttgart, under the supervision of my colleague Albrecht Schmidt. The UNH IRES program is funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of International and Integrative Activities, and we are grateful for their support. The eight students were each assigned to a group within the HCI Lab and participated in the research activities of that group.

I asked each of the students to write a one-paragraph report on their summer experience in Stuttgart, focusing on their research, and on their cultural experience. Here’s the first installment of these brief reports, where we look at some of the research conducted by the students.

Taylor Gotfrid worked on using augmented reality in assistive systems:

During my time here I learned about experiment design and augmented reality. Over this summer I’ve been working on designing and conducting a user study to determine whether picture instructions or projected instructions have better recall for assembly tasks over a long period of time. This experiment assesses which form of media would lead to fewer errors, faster assembly times, and better recall over a span of three weeks. The picture above is of the projector system indicating where the next LEGO piece needs to be placed to complete the next step in the assembly process.

Dillon Montag worked on tactile interfaces for people with visual impairments:

HyperBraille: I am working with Mauro Avila on developing tactile interfaces for people with visual impairments. Our tool developed this summer will allow users to explore scientific papers while receiving both audio and tactile feedback. We hope this new tool will allow people with visual impairments to enhance their understanding and navigation through papers.

Anna Wong worked on touch recognition:

For my project with the University of Stuttgart lab, I was tasked with using images like the one on the left to detect the user’s hand, and then classify the finger being used to touch a touch screen. This involved transforming the images in a variety of ways, such as finding the edges using a canny edge detector as in the top image, and then using machine learning algorithms to classify the finger.

Elizabeth Stowell worked on smart notifications:

I worked with smart objects and the use of notifications to support aging-in-place. I enjoyed building prototypes for a smart pillbox, sketching designs for a smart calendar, and exploring how people who are elderly interact with such objects. In these two months, I learned a lot about notification management within the context of smart homes.

Introducing the 2016 UNH IRES team

We are pleased to introduce the eight students who will participate in the 2016 UNH IRES program. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of International and Integrative Activities. We are grateful for the support.

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

Whitney Fahnbulleh is a junior at Wellesley College majoring Media Arts and Sciences and minoring in Chinese. Whitney is spending her junior year studying data analytics and visualization, human computer interaction, and is self-studying game design. She is most excited in the possibilities of virtual and augmented reality for creating immersive environments for gaming and knowledge delivery. She looks forward to graduate studies in HCI and game design.

Taylor Gotfrid is a senior double majoring in Computer Engineering and Cognitive Science at University of California, Santa Cruz. She is greatly interested in user experience research and making technology more accessible for those with developmental disabilities. She currently conducts research in the Interactive Systems for Individuals with Special Needs lab under Professor Sri Kurniawan developing games for individuals with developmental disabilities that will assess their understanding of basic concepts such as object relations and their problem-solving abilities. After she graduate she intends to pursue a Ph.D in HCI or Interaction Design.

Aditi Joshi is a senior at Olin College majoring in Engineering Design. She is especially interested in human centered design and connecting actual products and features to the people on the other end of the screen. She thinks that it is important to think of design as a constant process, starting from user research and talking to real people, co-designing with them and getting feedback, and actual implementation of these ideas. In her professional life she hopes to create products that make a social impact in the world, using engineering to help empower, educate, and assist the extremely different types of people in today’s world.

Dillon Montag is a senior mathematics and computer science double major at Westmont College. Previously, Dillon has conducted research in the fields of network science and big data, where he analyzed student performance within the UCLA mathematics department. He is interested in the intersection of computer science with the other social sciences and is excited to be transitioning into the industry.

Elizabeth Stowell is a PhD student in Personal Health Informatics at Northeastern University in Boston. She earned her B.A. in Health and Society at Wellesley College. She currently works in the Wellness Technology Lab that conducts that creates and evaluates wellness technologies to address health inequities. Elizabeth is interested in using technology to empower people to make informed decisions about their own health, and in using technology to facilitate health activism.

Donovan Toure is a recent graduate of New York University where he earned a Master of Science in Integrated Digital Media. His focus was on on Virtual and Augmented Reality, Game Design as well as Human Factors Engineering. He is interested in how Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies can be utilized in mission planning, training, and as psychological countermeasures in long-term space missions for humans living off world.

Natalie Warren is a junior Cognitive Science major at Yale University. As a member of the Yale Social Robotics Lab, she enjoys exploring technology’s role in improving cognitive functioning and social interaction. Natalie is interested in studying the effects of digital media on attention and performance, especially in children.

Anna Wong is a sophomore studying at Carnegie Mellon University. She is a Statistics and Machine Learning major. Anna entered the HCI field as a research assistant in CMU’s Human Computer Interaction Institute, where she has worked with data collected from wearable technology. Currently she is fascinated by big data and biometric data. She is most interested in developing tools that will allow users to interact with their personal data in a direct and accessible way.