Program overview

An NSF-funded program. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) created the International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program in order to help US students in science and engineering become engaged globally, and to help them gain the tools and contacts to perform internationally-recognized research.

The “US-German research on HCI in ubicomp” is an NSF-funded IRES program, which is collaboratively managed by Andrew Kun of the University of New Hampshire, and Orit Shaer of Wellesley College. The program funds students to perform summer research at one of two research labs in Germany. One lab is the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab of Professor Albrecht Schmidt of the University of Stuttgart. The other is the Media Informatics and Multimedia Systems Group of Professor Susanne Boll at the University of Oldenburg in Germany.

The overarching theme: HCI in ubicomp. The focus of the program is on developing human-computer interaction techniques for ubiquitous computing, or ubicomp. Ubicomp is a multidisciplinary field of study that explores networked computing devices that are embedded in everyday objects.

Specific application areas. Student will explore topics in the following domains of ubicomp:

  1. Transforming automated vehicles to places of productivity and play. We will explore user interfaces for highly automated vehicles, those that can take over all control of the vehicle for extended periods of time, and will signal well in advance when the driver needs to resume control.
  2. Guiding attention to ubicomp user interfaces on ship bridges. In our work with automated vehicles we are not concerned with the driver’s attention being on the road, because the driver effectively becomes a passenger. In contrast, in our work with interfaces for ship bridges we will evaluate how to design interfaces that keep the human operator’s attention on the relevant interfaces and on the outside world, such that the operator can safely navigate the vessel.
  3. Improved manual-visual interaction with large displays. The relationships between the characteristics of the user interfaces of large displays and measures such as user satisfaction, task completion time, and task completion quality, are not well understood. Our overarching goal is to establish some of these relationships, and use the results to propose improved designs of interactions with large displays.

Program dates. UNH and Wellesley received NSF funding for the IRES program for three years, from 2017 to 2019. In 2017 the program dates are expected to be June 1 through July 31.


University of New Hampshire