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.
Recently, the UNH IRES group visited Saarbrücken, Germany to tour two HCI labs at Universität des Saarlandes. We were all quite amazed by research effort at both labs.
TheInnovative Retail Lab at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) is conducting multiple studies on innovative shopping solutions and more! The simulated intelligent supermarket (pictured) provides shoppers with virtual assistance through smart shopping carts and sensor-based shelves that provide nutritional feedback. Very cool!
TheEmbodied Interaction Lab, housed in the Max Planck Institute for Informatics (Cluster of Excellence “Multimodal Computing and Interaction”), studies a range of HCI-related topics. We got to see all sorts of futuristic inventions, from use cases of flexible displays to sensor-based on-body devices. iSkin (pictured) is a flexible, stretchable, ground-breaking technology that detects touch input on skin (it is also the winner of the Best Paper Award at CHI ’15!).
After a day of lab tours, we had the chance to indulge in some German-Mexican fare! A few of us had been missing “American food,” so this was a great opportunity to have some enchiladas while socializing with the Saarbrücken researchers. Of course, some delicious dessert was enjoyed as well (pictured).
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.
“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.
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
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.
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.
In a previous post, I described my visit to the Hasso Plattner Institute outside of Berlin and the time I spent with Dominik Schmidt in his lab. In the current post, I’ll discuss the other parts of the IRES team’s weekend trip to Berlin.
The first thing we did, after checking into our hotel and dropping off our things, was visit the Berlin TV Tower observatory. We got a really good view of the city in every direction, accompanied by helpful displays within the observatory which pointed out noteworthy locations in the city.
That same day, we walked a long distance to view an area where the Berlin Wall used to stand from 1961 to 1989. Today, it’s covered in very detailed and intricate graffiti designs; some are political in nature, some are not. We spent a good deal of time walking the length of the Wall and observing the art on both sides of it. We didn’t quite make it to Brandenburg Gate because it was getting late, but we were able to see it way off in the distance by the time we decided to turn around and head back to the hotel.
The next day we traveled to the site of the Olympic Stadium which hosted the 1936 Olympics as well as matches in the 1974 and 2006 World Cup. We walked through the stadium itself as well as the surrounding complex, and also got to see the original “old” Olympiastadion next to the newer facility.
After the visit to the Olympic Stadium, we stopped by the Salvador Dali museum (which I didn’t even know existed!) and spent some time there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any photos while I was inside but I did snap this photo outside the entrance. When I was an art student in high school and some of college I went through a period where I admired and tried to emulate Dali’s work. Surrealist art always appealed to me, although I can’t entirely understand some of the work produced by other artists in that movement. Either way, discovering a Dali museum in Berlin was a nice surprise, and I’m very glad I was able to go there. I only wish that it was larger and had a wider selection of pieces.