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New Mobile Services July 5, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in innovative interfaces, mobile, physical interaction design, rfid.
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Vancouver one can finally pay his parking fee via phone – powered by Verrus. Call a number and type the number of minutes you want to park. Nice additional feature: if you leave early, you can call the number again and cancel the remaining minutes…


I am wondering, whether it would be nice to have gestures for these kind of services – gestures as in table whacking.

Buscom from Finland is doing a trial with Nokian on this issue: One can pay the bus fare with a simple gesture with the mobile phone:



Erfassen your world! June 6, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in biofeedback, innovative interfaces, mobile, physical interaction design, rfid.
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I am using the word "Erfassen", because in German it means "to comprehend", but literally it translates into "touching".

A lot of interaction research is trying to enhance the experience of blind people. The digital cane is – of course – one of the favorite places to start such a new experience:


The UltraCane is a cane, which informs the user of obstacles ahead through vibrating buttons in the handles. Different buttons tell the direction of the obstacle. Here is a nice animation of how the UltraCane works.


The GuideCane (pdf here) by the University of Michigan is more complex, but also more academic: It not only recognizes obstacles, but also steers the blind person around.


Another project was presented during the confenrence "Internation Symposium on Intelligent Environments" and is using RFID-technology for a similar purpose: SPOT-IT by the university of Bratislava, Slovakia, is suggesting a system for blind people, which provides contextual information about their surroundings. However, I am not so sure whether this is the right approach, especially as RFIDs have rather short-range reach. Furthermore do I think that there is such a big need for international agreements on standards that it will be difficult to make such a project come true (just think of the fact that there are more than 3 sign languages for German shows how difficult an agreement is in that field).


Beyond tactile feedback, sound is also an interesting source for non-visual experience of the world and how to navigate it: This reminds me of a project by Haraldur Unnarsson, students in Ivrea, who used music to tell directions in a car navigation system: through emphasis on the left or right channel in the car's stereo system, the user is told how to navigate. Unfortunately this project is not findable online, only here.

Interaction with mobile devices and the real world April 26, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in mobile, physical interaction design, rfid.

NFC(Near Field Communication) is how the mobile phone industry calls RFID for phones: A reader is build into the mobile phone and acts as a tag at the same time. This leads to number of use cases (Nokia) as: the hip teen can download music (Nokia) related to a movie by reading the tag on the poster. or: the craftman, who needs to read meters (Nokia). French Telecom has also a nice movie on application scenarios like paying with the phone or Location-Based Services.


Interesting is the feature that allows phones to read tags and be a tag at the same time. This reminds me of an interesting interface solution by Rekimoto at Sony's CSL: he is suggesting FEEL, a gesture-based interaction to establish communication between to networked devices. So the pairing doesn't need to be performed.


Another interesting interaction method was also developed by Rekimoto: Pick-and-Drop. With the quite natural gesture of picking screen-based objects (data) through a pen and dropping these objects on other screen-based computers an easy way of transfering data could be achieved.


Mathias Dahlström developed in his thesis at IDII a gesture-based language for sharing data (in his case: music). I particulary like his idea of sending data by making a throwing gesture towards the receiver.

interesting RFID tags March 23, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in making the invisible visible, prototyping tools, rfid.
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ad rfid.jpg

The RFID-tag-producer Avery Dennison designed quite interesting looking antennas, specialized for various applications. I talked to their application engineer during the Cebit and I think we should invite them to my university.

“fine cuisine made foolproof” January 13, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in rfid.
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rfid_pfanne.jpgRobotic Cookeware stellt ein RFID-basiertes System aus Pfanne, Kochplatte und Rezeptkarten vor, das das Kochen vereinfachen soll. Bisher nur in Japan erhältlich.

Miragraphy – Interaktiver Spiegel January 12, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in gadgets, innovative interfaces, rfid.

hitachi magic mirror.jpg

Auf meiner Japanreise habe ich ja auch Human Interaction Laboratory von HITACHI besucht. Wie ich schon berichtet hatte, durfte ich dort keine Bilder machen. Jetzt habe ich von einem der Produkte, die von diesen Forschern entwickelt wurden, einen Bericht gefunden. Miragraphy ist ein Spiegel mit hinterlegtem Display und RFID-Reader. Der Spiegel kann also erkennen, was derjenige, der vor ihm steht, trägt und kann entsprechend Empfehlungen ausgeben…

Übrigens: Es besteht die Möglichkeit, in dieser Abteilung ein Praktikum zu machen. Bitte kontaktiert mich diesbezüglich.

Nachtrag: Philips hat einen Spiegelfernseher auf den Markt gebracht, der – im ausgeschalteten Zustand – als Spiegel fungiert. Vielleicht etwas besser als eine schwarze Glasscheibe…