Tim April recently defended his MS thesis . Tim’s topic of exploration was multitouch surfaces and how interactions with these surfaces might be improved with the use of tangible user interfaces. Here’s a picture from the defense (for more pictures see Flickr):
During the fall 2013 semester I will be teaching a course exploring the fundamentals of pervasive (or ubiquitous) computing. The course is listed as ECE 796/896 Spc Top/Pervasive Computing. This is the second time I’ll teach this course – the first time was in 2010.
Why pervasive computing?
We have entered the third era of modern computing. This era is defined by computing devices that are embedded in everyday objects and become part of everyday activities. These devices are also connected to other devices or networks in an effort to share or gather information. Pervasive computing is a multidisciplinary field of study that explores the design and implementation of such embedded, networked computing devices. The field is young but it is developing fast and appears to have unstoppable momentum.
The course in a nutshell
The Pervasive Computing Fundamentals course has two major thrusts: 1. Lectures: Lectures introducing fundamental material from papers, a textbook edited by John Krumm, and close to 40 research videos. Topics covered will include system software for supporting percom, human-computer interaction in percom systems, privacy issues, context awareness, and location-based services. 2. Projects: Following a project requirements document, students (teams and individuals) will first select topics, with the guidance of the instructor. They will then prepare a proposal, complete the project, and report on it at the end of the semester through a written document and an oral presentation. Videos are encouraged.
Collaborative projects with Pratt Institute Pratt Institute is one of the leading art, design and architecture schools in the US. Its Industrial Design Department is consistently ranked in the top 5 in the country. Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman is a multi-disciplinary designer and the founder of RPF Design Studio. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor at Pratt. During the fall 2013 semester she will teach a junior studio on wearable technology for industrial design students. Rebeccah and I will help Pratt and UNH students form project teams. UNH students will primarily be responsible for the hardware and software development, while Pratt students will incorporate the hardware/software into wearable objects. Collaborating with Pratt students is not a requirement for UNH students, but it is highly encouraged (hopefully we can also go on a field trip to Pratt).
Two past projects
Here are two videos from 2010 to give you a taste for what a percom project might look like. Actually, if you collaborate with Pratt students, it’ll look even better – check out ID View 2012 for visuals of what you can expect.
Video 1: Data entry using handheld computers vs. paper
Video 2: Exploring group interaction with a multi-touch table
Who is this course for?
Students who will most benefit from the course are EE, CompE, CS and IT seniors and graduate students.
Class will meet MWF 4-5 PM. There will be an open lab in Morse 213 (ignore the lab time in the Time and Room Schedule).
For grading and such see the 2010 syllabus. The 2013 syllabus will be very similar.
As part of the visit Lee saw our driving simulator lab, and we had a chance to discuss with him a number of projects, including work on a UNH ECEsenior project that deals with personal navigation devices. Following this, Lee introduced us to the work of DOE’s Vehicle Technology Program. Three points from the presentation really resonated with me:
Interoperability is a problem. As we have found in our work on in-vehicle devices for police cruisers (Project54) , and as many UNH ECE students find in working at UNH’s IOL, many devices are not designed with interoperability in mind. This is also true of the different devices people use to charge batteries in vehicles.
Simulation can help focus R&D efforts. Our work on augmented reality personal navigation devices is a good example of using (driving) simulation to explore the value of an idea that is not yet technologically feasible (at least not with a reasonable price tag) . DOE explores a number of technologies in simulation before committing to developing and testing hardware.
Green racing can move automotive technology forward. Innovations used in car racing used to be transferable to consumer vehicles. This is almost never the case any more. Green racing is trying to change this: the green technologies that can win races can also provide improvements for everyday vehicles.
Here’s a photo of Lee discussing his ideas with us in the lab. For more photos see Flickr.
So, thanks Lee for taking the time to visit – it was a valuable and it was fun. I would also like to thank Kristin Bennett and Jan Nisbet for making Lee’s visit possible.
 Andrew L. Kun, W. Thomas Miller, III and William H. Lenharth, “Computers in police cruisers,” IEEE Pervasive Computing, Vol. 3, Issue 4, pp.: 34 – 41, Oct.-Dec. 2004
Last November Zeljko Medenica defended his dissertation . Zeljko explored new performance measures that can be used to characterize interactions with in-vehicle devices. The impetus for this work came from our work with personal navigation devices. Specifically, in work published in 2009  we found fairly large differences in the time drivers spend looking at the road ahead (more for voice-only turn-by-turn directions, less when there’s also a map displayed). However, the commonly used driving performance measures (average variance of lane position and steering wheel angle) did not indicate differences between these conditions. We thought that driving might still be affected, and Zeljko’s work confirms this hypothesis.
Zeljko is now with Nuance, working with Garrett Weinberg. Garrett and Zeljko collaborated during Zeljko’s internships at MERL (where Garrett worked prior to joining Nuance) in 2009 and 2010.
AutomotiveUI 2012 was covered in three excellent articles in local media in New Hampshire.
First, Paul Briand introduced the conference in a front-page article in the October 20 issue of the Portsmouth Herald. I am glad that Paul pointed out that this is a multi-disciplinary conference, and also that he included nice quotes from UNH researcher Oskar Palinko, who touched upon visual and cognitive distractions.
Next, UNH’s Beth Potier discussed our work in an excellent article in UNH Today. One of the highlights of Beth’s article for me was that she referenced two studies – our work on augmented reality published at MobileHCI 2011, and follow-on work being conducted by a team of UNH ECE seniors, as part of their senior project. Another highlight was this illustration by Bridget Finnegan:
Finally, Liz Markhlevskaya discussed the conference, and our work at UNH, in an article in the Foster’s Daily Democrat. I really like the fact that Liz clearly connected our work on deploying the Project54 system with our more recent driving simulator-based work.
Are you concerned about the low number of female graduates in fields such as electrical and computer engineering and computer science? I am – the numbers are truly dismal.
In an attempt to improve the situation a little, I organized a visit of 21 female 8th graders to AutomotiveUI 2012. The students attend the Armand R. Dupont School in Allenstown, New Hampshire. They came to the conference with their math teacher, Michelle Kelly. Michelle and I have been planning this trip since this summer, when she conducted research in my lab at UNH.
Michelle’s students discussed the conference, as well as the work of engineers and scientists, with three women attending the conference: Linda Boyle (professor at University of Washington), Nora Broy (researcher at BMW) and Chee Lee Cheong (undergrad exchange student at UNH ECE). They asked many questions and were quite engaged in the ensuing conversations. I am confident that they left the conference feeling that science and engineering can be exciting careers (and Michelle agrees).
I’m happy to report that AutomotiveUI 2012 that we hosted in Portsmouth, NH was a success. The conference featured six workshops, a full-day tutorial session with six presenters, 37 papers, 10 work-in-progress posters and demos, and 2 industrial showcase presentations. With 180 participants it was the largest AutomotiveUI yet.
This morning I discussed distracted driving research with students at Noble High School in North Berwick, ME. I was there at the invitation of David Parker who teaches physics. This year David and his students are exploring vehicle safety as part of their introduction to various aspects of physics.
Every time I talk to pre-college students, I want to communicate the idea that scientific research is exciting. With David’s students this was easy. From the beginning of my visit they were engaged in our conversation and they displayed critical thinking skills. I am sure this is gratifying for David and his Noble High School colleagues – their efforts are paying off.