Of course, not all of our time in Europe was spent working (though working with the Hololens everyday was incredibly fun). Pretty much every weekend was packed with trips around Germany and Europe as a whole.
In a previous post, I mentioned that we visited Milan, where we had gelato and pasta, clearly the most important part, and Heide and Serengeti Park, where we went on rides and looked at animals.
After Poland, I took a weekend to visit Paris by myself. I had a great time visiting the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, and Sacré Cœur (Sacred Heart Cathedral).
I took a break for the weekend after that, but the next week, the three of us and Calvin, along with his friend, went to Majorca, Spain. Spain was beautiful and relaxing. After weeks of rushing around to see the sights, we finally had the chance to just sit by the beach and enjoy the warm water.
I had a great time in Germany and had a ton of fun traveling every weekend to places that I had dreamed about, but figured I’d never go. Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible, I had a great time and learned so much.
It’s always amazing how quickly time flies in hindsight now that our two months in Germany have come to a close. I had so much fun and saw many new places along with learning a lot about HCI!
My project for the summer was Visualizing Out of View Objects With the Hololens or, as we liked to call it, EyeSee: Beyond Reality. The idea is that on a ship, the bridge is so long that a pilot can only see one side of the ship at a time. However, the pilot still has to keep track of what is on the other side of ship that they can’t see. The solution, therefore, is EyeSee. It creates a visualization of the world around the user and maps objects to that visualization so that the pilot can keep track of these objects in their peripheral.
Of course, I didn’t know how to use Unity at all when I started, so my supervisor, Uwe, had me take a crash course when I arrived. I started with Unity’s Roll-A-Ball tutorial and once I had finished that, Uwe challenged me to port it to different consoles and modes. So the computer game that was controlled with arrow keys became an Android game controlled by tilting the screen, became a Cardboard game controlled by tilting your head, which became a game that was projected on an image and controlled by tilting the image around. That was the version of the game that was ported to the Hololens.
Once I had been brought up to speed, I worked on bringing Uwe’s Cardboard version of EyeSee to the Hololens. Along the way, in addition to Unity and Hololens development, I learned how to deal with errors that were often buried deep in code – how to solve them by myself, and when to ask for help.
In my final week, I worked on developing a game based on our study design using EyeSee. When complete, it will be put on the Hololens store so when people play it, we can gather data from many different people on the usefulness of EyeSee.
I learned so much and got to work with so many cool people! I am incredibly grateful that I got the opportunity to study in Germany. I’m going to miss everybody so much!
In our fourth week at Oldenburg, many exciting events occurred, including the Fourth of July and Orit and Andrew’s visit.
On Independence Day, I made an American flag fruit tart that I brought to work. Later in the day, Susanne Boll (the professor in charge) invited us to her home for hot dogs, and I made another American-themed dessert: brownies.
Susanne tried to translate what a “brownie” is for her young children, starting with “cookie,” then “chocolate cake,” and finally settling with “chocolate bar,” which is rather accurate.
Later in the week, Orit and Andrew visited, and the three of us IRES Oldenburg students presented our research so far through a poster presentation and demos. I showed my work in Multimodal Attention Arousal in Head-Mounted Displays, where I’ve been working with Arduino, vibration motors/speakers, and 3D-rendering/3D-printing in order to figure out user perception of urgency in different audio and vibro-tactile parameters. The motivation behind my research is alarm fatigue in staff working in safety-critical environments such as hospitals, where the vast amount of loud alarm noises as well as false alarms creates desensitization.
In our third week in Oldenburg, we continued to make progress on our projects. I am helping my supervisor with the EyeSee360 application. EyeSee360 is an application that maps the 3D position objects around the user. This allows a user to have an idea of where out-of-view objects without having to look for them. After going through a crash course in 3D programming and seemingly endless bug fixing, I finished porting the program to the Hololens.
We have been taking advantage of Germany’s central location in Europe to travel on the weekends. Last week, we flew to Milan where we saw the sights and ate delicious Italian cuisine.
This past weekend, we traveled closer to home and visited Germany’s Heide and Serengeti Parks. We had a blast going on all of the rides and seeing the animals.
During our second week in Oldenburg, we all delved deeper into our respective projects. In the project I am joining, we are designing an ambient light display to be used on a car when the driver is considering changing lanes. The display will inform the driver of the car’s distance from other cars in the lane he/she is attempting to change into. I began testing different light patterns on a model and began asking for input from some of the colleagues in OFFIS who had experience with peripheral cues, ambient lighting, and other related topics. I received a lot of helpful criticism that will hopefully help me to create a user-centered design.
One of the biggest things I think we had to adjust to this week was the European aversion to using debit/credit cards. As Michelle said, our favorite past time has become grocery shopping, but in order to do so we had to learn quickly that we should have cash on hand and schedule regular trips to the ATM.
I experienced this while traveling for the first time since arriving in Oldenburg, because my mother also came to visit during the second week. I was turning 21, so she decided to come to Oldenburg and help me celebrate my birthday. She had never been to Europe before, so we took a weekend trip to Thessaloniki in Greece. My mother and I are prone to using our credit cards all the time, so remembering to carry euros was an adjustment for both of us.
Even though the lack of credit card readers was a new experience, going to the beach is typically a tradition we observe on my birthday. It was nice that some things don’t change despite some of the differences myself and the other IRES students have been adjusting to.