Fulbrighters join forces for education

Here’s another story on how the Fulbright program builds lasting bridges between people across nations. This summer I was really pleased to work with fellow Fulbrighter, Károly Hercegfi to bring Hungarian graduate students to the Quantifying User-centered Experiences (QUE-2016) summer school at the University of Stuttgart. I met Károly when I was a Fulbright Scholar at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) in 2014.

Károly selected five exceptional graduate students from BME to attend the summer school (the leftmost five students in the picture above). They represented an interdisciplinary group, which was really exciting for both the instructors and the other students:

  • Dalma Geszten, PhD student in Psychology (MA, BA Psychology)
  • Anna Hidas, MSc student in Mechanical Engineering Modelling (BSc Industrian Design Engineering)
  • Maria Horvath, MSc student in Industrial Design Engineering (BSc Industrial Design Engineering)
  • Mark A. Pulay, PhD student in Psychology (MA Education & Psychology, BA Conductive Education)
  • Balint Szabo, PhD student in Management (MSc in Management, BSc Electrical Engineering)

I would like to thank Albrecht Schmidt, who provided generous financial support that allowed the Hungarian students to attend the summer school – thanks Albrecht!

The summer school was a lot of work for everyone, but it wasn’t all work – we also had a chance for fun activities, such as punting on the river in Tubingen. Here’s a picture of Dalma Geszten trying her hand (quite successfully) at guiding our boat:

Below you can read comments by the Hungarian students about the summer school – these comments originally appeared on the Visual Computing BLOG. I’m glad that the students enjoyed the experience. Albrecht, Károly and I are very encouraged by their response, and we are already making plans for including BME students in the 2017 summer school.

“What is your research question? – This was the essence of Margit Pohl’s presentation on qualitative and quantitative research. It is the most important thing a researcher has to have in mind, while doing research. The variables, the method, the data analysis and the whole research process should be based on the research question. If a problem occurs, the researchers should go back to the research question and solve the problem based on it. That is why it is so important to have a good research question, because it is the solid base of the scientific value of our work.”

Balint Szabo, PhD student in Management

“It was an amazing course. Its main topic was human-computer interaction, and it had a very special atmosphere. The students and the lecturers came from different countries with different backgrounds. The only thing connecting them was the passion for researching and the interest in human-computer interaction. During the summer school participants had the opportunity to listen to talks about different topics like Digital Signal Processing, Statistics, Experiment Design, Eye Tracking or Application Research. These talks provided a good basis for meaningful conversations on various aspects of the specific field. There was a chance to participate in brainstorming sessions which yielded in creative ideas on several special topics. Hands-on and poster sessions helped a lot deepening the gained knowledge and getting up to date on the ongoing research topics. Besides these the general conversations were also very useful, for me especially the carrier advices of experienced researchers turned out to be very helpful.”

Anna Hidas, MSc student in Mechanical Engineering Modelling

“The summer school was a great experience for me. In my opinion the cultural diversity and the different research backgrounds of the participants were the key elements of the summer school’s success. The scientific and intellectual atmosphere induced valuable discussions about human-computer interaction questions and helped us to deepen our knowledge. The whole summer school made a powerful impression on me. I got useful and practical advice on how to be a better researcher.”

Dalma Geszten, PhD student in Psychology

“I learned a lot about EEG and Eye tracker signal processing which are very common tools now a days in my research field. The hands-on sections provided us useful experiences about the filtering process as well. We had opportunity to visit the amazing and modern lab in SimTech we tried several different kind of eye tracker and Virtual reality devices. Most importantly we got new relationship with other students and senior researchers.”

Mark Pulay, PhD student in Psychology

2016 Stuttgart visit

Albrecht Schmidt with telepresence robot

At the beginning of July I had a chance to visit my colleague Albrecht Schmidt and his HCI Lab at the University of Stuttgart. This summer Albrecht is hosting eight US student participants in our International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of International and Integrative Activities. You can read about the team on the UNH HCI Lab website. My visit to Stuttgart was a chance to talk to the students and find out first-hand about their research activities. I also participated in the 2016 Quantifying User Experiences (QUE) summer school, where I lectured on topics in digital signal processing.

Our NSF IRES students are making quick progress with their HCI Lab colleagues, and I’m looking forward to their final presentations this week. On the cultural side, I really enjoyed the trip organized for QUE 2016 participants to Tübingen, a town with pretty architecture and a scenic riverfront.

Tübingen riverfront

Discussion on self-driving cars at Science Cafe Concord

This week I had a chance to participate in a panel discussion on self-driving cars at the Concord Science Cafe, organized by David Brooks. David is a science writer for the Concord Monitor – thanks David for inviting me! The other panelists were Joe Cunningham of NHTI, and Sean Smith of Dartmouth. Joe’s background is in robotics and automation, while Sean is a computer scientist with a focus on information security.

Science Cafe brings together experts from a particular field and an audience made up of members of the community who are interested in that topic. The audience brings up questions and problems, and the panel tries to provide insight from their own perspective. In our case this resulted in a really fun exchange of ideas between David who was moderating, the panelists, and the audience of about 50.

Some of the things I learned from this panel:

  • You should organize an event like this at a bar, in order to make everyone relax and feel comfortable.
  • Many people worry about the capabilities of self-driving cars: are they really better than humans?
  • Tire pressure sensors can be a security risk because they can be detected from outside the vehicle, even to set off an explosive meant for the passengers of that vehicle.
  • Owners of self-driving cars might look for modifications to the car’s software, e.g. to set up their vehicle to exceed the speed limit. Thus, even with self-driving cars we will still need traffic rule enforcement of some kind.


UNH IRES 2016 participants announced

Ludwisburg Palace Stuttgart

I’m really excited for this year’s group of UNH IRES student participants. Eight US students will spend 9 weeks at the University of Stuttgart conducting research with Albrecht Schmidt and his team. You can read the bios of the 2016 group on the UNH HCI Lab website.

The International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program is funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of International and Integrative Activities. We received a grant from this program for the UNH IRES program – we are grateful for the support.

Coming up: CHI 2016 course on automotive user interfaces

At this year’s CHI conference Bastian Pfleging, Nora Broy and I will present a course introducing automotive user interfaces. Here’s the course abstract:

The objective of this course is to provide newcomers to Automotive User Interfaces with an introduction and overview of the field. The course will introduce the specifics and challenges of In-Vehicle User Interfaces that set this field apart from others. We will provide an overview of the specific requirements of AutomotiveUI, discuss the design of such interfaces, also with regard to standards and guidelines. We further outline how to evaluate interfaces in the car, discuss the challenges with upcoming automated driving and present trends and challenges in this domain.

Interested? Please register through the conference registration system and sign up for our course.

Developing Partnership and Advancing Driving Research – Workshop at Michigan Tech

Myounghoon “Philart” Jeon

Last week I attended the Developing Partnership and Advancing Driving Research workshop at Michigan Tech. The workshop was organized by Myounghoon “Philart” Jeon. Philart is Assistant Professor at Michigan Tech with appointments in two departments:  Computer Science, and Cognitive and Learning Sciences. He is also the director of the Mind Music Machine (tri-M) Lab.

PhD student Steven Landry discusses motion sonification and the display wall at the tri-M lab

(Academic) speed dating at the workshop

The workshop brought together researchers interested in driving research: Bruce Walker (Georgia Tech) provided an overview of the tools different groups might use in driving research, and he also elaborated on his work with audio interactions. Andreas Riener (Johannes Kepler University Linz) spoke about topics related to autonomous vehicles. Collin Castle (Michigan DOT) discussed the use of connected vehicle technologies in Michigan DOT. I introduced some of our work with eye tracking in the UNH driving simulator. I also participated in my first speed dating session – the academic kind 😉

You can see more photos from the event on Flickr.

2015 ubicomp course

During the fall 2015 semester I will be teaching a course exploring the fundamentals of ubiquitous (or pervasive) computing. The course is listed as ECE 796/896 Spc Top/Ubiquitous Computing. (It will soon be ECE 724/824.) This is the third time this course will run – the first time was in 2010.

Why ubiquitous 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.  Ubiquitous computing is a multidisciplinary field of study that explores the design and implementation of such embedded, networked computing devices.

The course in a nutshell
The Ubiquitous 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 ubicomp systems, privacy issues, context awareness, and location-based services.
2. Projects: Following a project requirements document, students (teams or 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.

Two past projects
Here are two videos from 2010 to give you a taste for what a ubicomp project might look like.

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.

Organizational details
Class will meet TR 11-12:30. There will be an open lab in Morse 213.

For grading and such see the 2015 syllabus.

Send email to andrew DOT kun AT unh DOT edu.


2015 senior project ideas

Are you a UNH junior looking for an exciting senior project? Are you interested in driving research, and/or eye tracking research? Would you like to work publish your work at a conference (three recent senior projects resulted in publications: pupil diameter, navigation, driver authentication)? Would you like to design new interaction techniques, such as this LED-based augmented reality navigation aid:

If so, here is a list of ideas for 2015 senior projects:

  1. Collision warning systems. Collision warning systems issue auditory, visual, or multimodal warnings in the case of imminent collision. But, do drivers pay attention to these warnings? Do these systems reduce braking reaction time? These are some of the questions the senior project team will explore through driving simulator-based studies.
  2. Intelligent agent controller for automated vehicle. Automated vehicles are of great interest to the automotive industry. The senior project team will develop an intelligent agent to control a simulated vehicle. In future work the intelligent agent will be used in exploring HCI issues related to automated driving.
  3. Intelligent human-computer interaction that supports reengagement in driving. A central question in automated driving is: how will driver reengage in the driving task once the automation needs assistance? The senior project team will design strategies for alerting the driver, as well as methods to evaluate how fully the driver has reengaged in the driving task.
  4. Using Apple Siri while driving. With the support of Apple engineers we are setting up Siri in our driving simulator. The senior project team will design experiments to assess the safety of interacting with Siri while driving.
  5. Eye tracking for early detection of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is devastating. Early detection of the disease, and a subsequent early intervention, might improve the odds of successful treatment. The senior project team will explore the use of eye behavior and pupil diameter as measures for early detection.
  6. Comparing Prezi and slides. Prezi presentations are exciting. The senior project team will explore what the strengths and weaknesses of this presentation style when compared to traditional slide presentations.
  7. Your ideas. Do you have a senior project idea in the general areas of driving, and eye tracking? Let us know – send email to Andrew Kun.


Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of New Hampshire