Category Archives: unh

Poland and Summer Wrap-Up

These past few weeks absolutely flew by as we were all busy with our week of summer school in Poland as well as finishing up our projects in the few remaining weeks we had in Germany.  Poland was a lot of fun; it was a week filled with informative lectures on new technological applications in human-computer interaction as well as hands-on workshops that involved various skills like sketching and prototyping.  I also got to experience and learn a lot about the culture and history of Łódź, like how the bustling shopping center known as Manufaktura was once a textile factory.  We were lucky enough to be able to zipline off the rooftop of Manufaktura and see the beautiful views from above.

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I met lots of graduate students and professionals at the summer school too, and it was fun collaborating and learning with them during our afternoon workshops.  There were lots of after-school activities a lot of us participated in too, like a walking tour of Łódź where we got to see some really interesting sites like this hallway of broken mirrors formed together to look like flowers.

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I’m not sure when I’ll be back in Poland again, but I had a lot of fun during my week there at the summer school!

Once Midori, Calvin, and I got back to Stuttgart, we were all busy finishing up our projects before the end of our internships.  Although there was a steep learning curve in the beginning, I finally was making a lot of progress with my underwater Unity environment.  I was especially happy with how all of my scripts were turning out, especially with all of the object movement in the scene.  Since Midori and I sat in the same office, I would lean over and make her test my environment to make sure what I was trying to simulate still made sense.  It was a lot of fun working with the Oculus, especially since I had absolutely no experience with virtual reality before coming to Germany.  This is what my setup looked like:

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I was able to finish up the underwater environment and give a brief demo to Tonja and Pascal!  I was really happy with how it turned out, and even though I’ll no longer have an Oculus headset to use, Pascal gave me a lot of useful information of how I can convert the scene to Google Cardboard so I can use my phone and be able to see the scene I built in a virtual environment.

The entire lab also had a summer barbecue party!  There was so much good food and competitive ping pong, it was a really fun way to wrap up our summer in Germany.

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Before coming to Germany this summer, I was nervous about how everything would work out – research at the University, living in Germany, the language barrier – but these past two months flew by in a whirl.  I learned so much, not only about human-computer interaction research, but also about graduate school in general and how to even just live on my own in a foreign country.  I had so much fun this summer, I’m so happy I was able to take part in this opportunity!

First Lab Visit in UNH IRES Program: Hasso Plattner Institute

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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

First Weekend in UNH IRES Program: Mercedes-Benz Museum and Ludwigsburg Palace

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The Mercedes-Benz Museum was so much fun to see. It was my first automobile museum and it did not disappoint. The museum structure is a double helix and you start at the top of the building from the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen to present time. The one thing I found interesting about the museum is that it not only takes you through Mercedes-Benz history, but also historic world events. One historic event that caught my eye being a track and field athlete is Jesse Owens saluting after beating Germany’s Lutz Long (right) to the long jump title at the 1936 Olympics (as you can see in the picture above). We actually went and saw the stadium in Berlin where Jesse Owens competed later during our time in Germany. 

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The Ludwigsburg Palace in my mind was the most beautiful place I saw in Stuttgart. You can’t help but get entranced in its atmosphere.

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.