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M2M for beginners December 3, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in entrepreneurship, innovative interfaces, new technologies, physical interaction design, prototyping tools.
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I just re-submitted a fund application for developing an M2M-development environment for non-engineers, following the philosophy of Processing, Arduino and Fritzing. Today, my colleague Stefan Hermann pointed out to me the project Twine, which is currently applying for crowd funding.

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Twine was invented by the two MIT-grads David Carr and John Kestner and already received more than 160K in funding! Well done and good luck!

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Feel the Screen December 3, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, new technologies, physical interaction design.
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One major challenge with touchscreens is the tactile feedback, which is enriching any Human-Computer-Interaction. A lot of diffenrent approaches have been developed, ranging from Ivan Poupyrev‘s touch engine (2002) to Chris Harrison’s and Scott Hudson’s pneumatic displays:

Now, a new solution is hitting the blogosphere, by a company called Senseg: They are using dynamic electrostatic field to create changing sensations on the finger tips of the user. They call this system “tixel” – derived from “tactile pixels”:

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Too bad, I didn’t have the chance so far to try this system, but according to CNET it really feels great. A great advantage of this system is that there are no mechanical parts involved. The system should be on the market with “12 to 24” months…

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(via Robert Siuda on incom; thanks!)

Pixel Everywhere… on Cars? December 2, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, media art, new technologies, poetic.
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Well, the fantasy is quite old: with the rising of Ubiquitous Computing many research labs proposed the idea of “Pixel Everywhere” and suggested interesting interaction paradigms with this idea.

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 For example, Claudio Pinhanez suggested in 2001 a “Everywhere␣Displays␣Projector”, which would turn a space into an area covered with pixels (see image above). Jun Rekimoto suggested a range of interesting interaction paradigms for such an environment, as the Pick-and-Drop concept, earlier explained in this blog, here with a more spatial use-case:

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On the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show Toyota showed the concept car Fun Vii (huh, what an innovative name), which has this idea of pixel everywhere: One can change the look of the car instandly:

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(image source) (here more variations of decorative art on the car)

The concept of pixel everywhere is not only used for decoration, but also for meaningful interactions:

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More meaningful interactions (as we always wanted to make publicly visible who of our friends has birthday or who left us an SMS)

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The weirdest use-case for this concept car is to use it for advertisement while being parked. I am wondering, who is controlling the ad on my car – maybe it is in exchange for a free parking?

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This concept reminds me a little bit of the work “Optical Camouflage” by Prof. Susumu Tachi: I would love to use this car to make it invisible!!!

(image source)(the movie for this image: Optical Camouflage)


IAA: Digital Dashboards September 23, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, presentation, visual design.
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One of the big topics of the IAA. Here some impressions:

(own image)(various digital dashboard by Nippon Seiki, the producer of Head-Up-Displays)

(own image)(an OLED-based transparent display on top of the traditional dashboard – I saw this a couple of time – here the version by Delphi)

(own image)(a nice example of bringing together various display technologies in one dashboard – by Continental)

(own image)(Affordable Car Instrument Cluster by Continental)

(own image)(Dashboard of UP! by VW)

(own image)(Dashboard Volvo with huge display in the central area)

(own image)(F125 concept car by Daimler)

IAA: Smart Phones and Cars September 22, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in gadgets, innovative interfaces, mobile, physical interaction design.
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A big topic for interaction designers at this year’s IAA was the marriage of smart phones and cars. I found the following scenarios:

1. SmartPhone –> Key –> Car

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Delphi is proposing their “Key Fob Technology“: in the scenario presented at the IAA the user looks up a route on his smartphone. In the next step, he holds his car key to the smart phone, which transfers the data to the car key (via NFC). And then, when staring his car with this key, the information lands in the car and the in-car-navigation system.

Well, I am not sure why the car key acts as data tranferer. I liked the blinking at the slot for the car key. And I like the observation that there are two situations – the planning of a journey and the journey itself.

Talking to the people from Delphi I also discussed the following scenario, which they completely refused as they don’t see the necessary security standards being implemented in normal smart phones.

2. Smart Phone <–> Car

Continental is suggesting in their solution called AutoLinq to use the smart phone not only to open your car (!), but also to control vital functions of your car. One scenario they are suggesting is to personalize your dash board with you phone by dragging icons of features in the direction of the dashboard:

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Reminds me of the work by my old colleague Jun Rekimoto, who suggested already in 1998 the so called “Pick and Drop“-system, which allows to drag digital items within a multi-computer environment.

Another scenario with AutoLinq was the idea to check the pressure in the tires through your mobie phone:

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Other companies are suggesting to control the seat through mobile phones…

I guess this is the right way to go, but I also think that there are security and privacy aspects which needs to be resolved. I am not talking about encryption and other technical security issues (I take those for granted), but through the interface: who is allowed to do what? how does the owner knows what is happening? etc. Interesting challenges!

IAA: Force Feedback II September 22, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, physical interaction design.
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A couple of years ago I wrote on Tactile Information Representation – Finally I got the chance to try a force feedback gas padel – by Continental:

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Continental presented three different scenarios:

  • One sporty implementation, where I did not really feel the difference (but I had only little time to try the system, so maybe my fault)
  • One supporting to shift gears at the right time, which was some kind of double click feeling. I can imagine that this is a good way to remember drivers to do so.
  • One for eco-friendly driving, which makes accelerating harder. I thought that this one was nice in an exhibition, but on a daily base one might not even feel this feature at all…

I think that there is a lot of potential in this area.
Well, not just me: Scott Klemmer (et al.) desribe in their wonderful paper “How Bodies Matter“,  the “Tacit Knowledge” that many physical situations afford plays an important role in expert behavior.

As I did an apprenticeship as a stone mason I can tell how one can feel in his hands and by the sound of hitting the stone the quality of a stone while working on it. This experience is actually not really possible to put into words, but it is an important aspect of becoming an expert. In computer technology this ability of humans has not really been used yet…

I would really like to work on a detailed design language for force feedback.

IAA: Force Feedback I September 22, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, physical interaction design.
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Denso, a “global supplier of automotive technology, systems and components” and part of the Toyota group, presented at this year’s IAA a steering wheel with force feedback:

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From the design one can easily see that Denso is a Japanese company…

I had the chance to try the system: unfortunately the wheel could not be used as a steerting wheel in the demo, which I though was odd: one could only experience the force feedback without using the steering wheel in the regular manner.

The warning of approaching cars felt a little bit as if my steering wheel is a phone vibrating. I was not too impressed.

In emergency situations, this system starts steering by itself to avoid a crash. This in itself is a nice idea, however I was surprised that this auto-steering could be experienced in the steering wheel. Why would you like to experience that in such a situation? I am not sure…

Actually, I am big fan of the idea of force feedback in the steering wheel. However, I guess this force feedback needs to be crafted much more with the user’s expectation in mind and much more subtle than current solutions. Another problem I see is that it is difficult if each car has an own standard for force feedback (or any ambient information display). Imagine you sit in an rented car and all the sudden the steering wheel starts vibrating – and you have no clue why… A scary idea!


IAA: Pong with E-Car September 22, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, physical interaction design.
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To advertise their electric drive, Smart set up at the IAA 2011 a pong, where the players control their racket by driving a Smart back and forward.

Wow, that’s Physical Interaction Design for car lovers…

Instructions for the Arduino-ÜberPen September 22, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, physical interaction design.
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Philipp Gräßler, one of the MA-students I currently supervising, has a 6-page-instruction on his Über-Pen in the current issue of the Weave-magazine, a German mag on “interactive design, conception & development”.

This Überpen is a extension of the regular Wacom-pen with the following features:

  • by sensing pressure at the side the pen turns into a pipet (or color picker)
  • by adding a scroll wheel to the pen zooming or scaling becomes easy
  • by adding another rotary encoder for the back part of the pen (like opening a screw driver), one can execute commands, which are also important, but not as ofter, as changing sound volume or switching applicatons

Philipp and his colleagues are describing in detail how to build such a pen with Arduino – in only 15-20 hours… Great project!


PS.: Sorry: no online-version of the article available… 😦

Gestural Control in Cars September 14, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, physical interaction design.
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At the IAA this year, which will be opening for the public next weekend, Mercedes is showing their high-end concept car F 125 (and here)- of course based on green technology and very cool:

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What I am particulary excited about is the fact that they finally integrate gesture based interaction in the car – not for driving (there is still a steering wheel), but for everything else. Here you can see a detail from the screen:

(image source, youtube-video “The Mecedes-Benz F 125! – First Video”, interface visible at 1:06)

According to the video, also the doors open based on hand gestures. Wow!

Here you can see the design director of Mercedes, Gorden Wagener, talking about this – of course not without quoting Minority Report: