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.
In our first week at OFFIS in the University of Oldenburg, we found ourselves warmly welcomed by our new colleagues and supervisors:
We took advantage of the week’s uncharacteristic sunny weather to explore town, where we found plentiful grocery stores and bakeries.
Going grocery shopping became interesting adventures in themselves, as we quickly discovered that items typical to us – such as vanilla extract – are non-existent here, and that stores close Sundays. Ultimately, we managed to adjust quickly and I have been cooking and baking (banana bread, cakes, and the peanut butter cookies pictured below) with all sorts of local ingredients!