Category Archives: Project54

2014 Visit to National University of Public Service

Last week I visited the Hungarian National University of Public Service. I was there at the invitation of Zoltán Székely. Zoltán is a major in the Hungarian Police, a lawyer, and an instructor at the University. I met Zoltán through Bálint Kiss, who is my host at BME during my Fulbright scholarship in Hungary.

Zoltán Székely introduces the proposed “Application of Robotics for Enhanced Security” effort

Zoltán is leading an effort to make robots part of law enforcement work in Hungary, and beyond. He invited me to the kick-off meeting for this effort, where I gave a talk sharing some of our experiences at Project54. The Project54 effort at UNH addressed ubicomp in the law enforcement setting.

Zoltán has brought together a diverse and talented group of researchers and practitioners for this effort. I am looking forward to seeing the results of their efforts.

You can see pictures from my visit on Flickr. My favorite is this one of the beautiful University building where the meeting was held:

National University of Public Service, Budapest, Hungary

Visiting Noble High School

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.

2012 PhD and MS positions

A PhD and an MS position are available in the Project54 lab at the University of New Hampshire. The lab is part of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at UNH. Successful applicants will explore human-computer interaction in vehicles. We are looking for students with a background in electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, or related fields.

The Project54 lab was created in 1999 in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Safety to improve technology for New Hampshire law enforcement. Project54’s in-car system integrates electronic devices in police cruisers into a single voice-activated system. Project54 also integrates cruisers into agency-wide communication networks. The Project54 system has been deployed in over 1000 vehicles in New Hampshire in over 180 state and local law enforcement agencies.

Research focus

Both the PhD and the MS student will focus on the relationship between various in-car user interface characteristics and the cognitive load of interacting with these interfaces, with the goal of designing interfaces that do not significantly increase driver workload. Work will involve developing techniques to estimate cognitive load using performance measures (such as the variance of lane position), physiological measures (such as changes in pupil diameter [1-5]) and subjective measures (such as the NASA-TLX questionnaire).

The PhD student will focus on spoken in-vehicle human-computer interaction, and will explore the use of human-human dialogue behavior [6-11] to guide the design process.

The work will utilize experiments in Project54’s world-class driving simulator laboratory which is equipped with two research driving simulators, three eye trackers and a physiological data logger.


The PhD student will be appointed for four years, and the MS student for two years. Initial appointments will be for one year, starting between June and September 2012. Continuation of funding will be dependent on satisfactory performance. Appointments will be a combination of research and teaching assistantships. Compensation will include tuition, fees, health insurance and academic year and summer stipend.

How to apply

For application instructions, and for general information, email Andrew Kun, Project54 Principal Investigator at Please attach a current CV.


[1] Oskar Palinko, Andrew L. Kun, “Exploring the Effects of Visual Cognitive Load and Illumination on Pupil Diameter in Driving Simulators,” ETRA 2012

[2] Andrew L. Kun, Zeljko Medenica, Oskar Palinko, Peter A. Heeman, “Utilizing Pupil Diameter to Estimate Cognitive Load Changes During Human Dialogue: A Preliminary Study,” AutomotiveUI 2011 Adjunct Proceedings

[3] Andrew L. Kun, Peter A. Heeman, Tim Paek, W. Thomas Miller, III, Paul A. Green, Ivan Tashev, Peter Froehlich, Bryan Reimer, Shamsi Iqbal, Dagmar Kern, “Cognitive Load and In-Vehicle Human-Machine Interaction,” AutomotiveUI 2011 Adjunct Proceedings

[4] Oskar Palinko, Andrew L. Kun, “Exploring the Influence of Light and Cognitive Load on Pupil Diameter in Driving Simulator Studies,” Driving Assessment 2011

[5] Oskar Palinko, Andrew L. Kun, Alexander Shyrokov, Peter Heeman, “Estimating Cognitive Load Using Remote Eye Tracking in a Driving Simulator,” ETRA 2010

[6] Andrew L. Kun, Alexander Shyrokov, and Peter A. Heeman, “Interactions between Human-Human Multi-Threaded Dialogues and Driving,” PUC Online First, to appear in PUC

[7] Andrew L. Kun, Zeljko Medenica, “Video Call, or Not, that is the Question,” to appear in CHI ’12 Extended Abstracts

[8] Fan Yang, Peter A. Heeman, Andrew L. Kun, “An Investigation of Interruptions and Resumptions in Multi-Tasking Dialogues,” Computational Linguistics, 37, 1

[9] Andrew L. Kun, Alexander Shyrokov, Peter A. Heeman, “Spoken Tasks for Human-Human Experiments: Towards In-Car Speech User Interfaces for Multi-Threaded Dialogue,” Automotive UI 2010

[10] Fan Yang, Peter A. Heeman, Andrew L. Kun, “Switching to Real-Time Tasks in Multi-Tasking Dialogue,” Coling 2008

[11] Alexander Shyrokov, Andrew L. Kun, Peter Heeman, “Experimental modeling of human-human multi-threaded dialogues in the presence of a manual-visual task,” SigDial 2007

Presentation at the 2011 Emergency Responders Workshop

Yesterday I participated in the work of the 2011 Emergency Responders Workshop (pdf) organized by WisDOT, CVTA and GLTEI. The workshop had two major goals. One was to provide a sampling of state-of-the-art technologies used by emergency responders. The other was to begin charting a path toward developing advanced technologies. Participants from emergency responder agencies, industry and academia discussed their vision for future technologies as well as barriers to progress.

My presentation focused on pervasive (or ubiquitous) computing for law enforcement. I encouraged participants to ask the following question:

“What should be the focus of R&D efforts targeting percom technologies for emergency responders?”

CVTA President Scott McCormick (in picture below) and WisDOT’s John Corbin led the meeting superbly – thanks to both for including me in this effort.

For more pictures from the event visit Flickr.

Bryan Reimer visit to UNH

It was my great pleasure to host Bryan Reimer at UNH. Bryan is Research Scientist at the MIT Age Lab as well as Associate Director of the New England University Transportation Center. His research focuses on the measurement and understanding of human behavior in dynamic environments, such as in cars.

Bryan spent time in the Project54 lab discussing various aspects of driving simulator and field studies. He then gave a thought-provoking talk reviewing results from multiple studies exploring driver workload and distraction. I expecially enjoyed his discussion of physiological measures that can be used to estimate workload. E.g. Bryan has found that heart rate is a robust estimate of workload and is often more useful than the often-used measure of heart rate variability. Bryan also discussed work on validating driving simulator results through field studies. His data indicate that driving simulator results can be used to predict relative changes in workload measures under different situations in real-life driving. However, the actual values of the measures collected in simulator and field studies often differ significantly.

For more pictures visit Flickr.

Albrecht Schmidt visit to UNH

Last month (April 16) Albrecht Schmidt visited UNH and the Project54 lab. Albrecht gave an excellent talk introducing some of the research problems in pervasive computing and specifically touching on the latest results from his lab, which were just published at CHI 2010 [1, 2]. I was especially interested in the work on helping users find the last place of interest on a map quickly. Albrecht and colleagues track the user’s gaze and when the user looks away, they place a marker (or gazemark) on the map. When the user looks back at the map she can start where she left off: at the place of the marker. Clearly this could be very useful when looking at GPS maps in a car. In such a situation the driver has to keep going back and forth between the map and the road and you want to minimize the time spent looking at the map (the road being the more important thing to look at!). The gazemarks introduced by Albrecht’s group may help. It would be interesting to conduct a driving simulator study with gazemarks.

After the talk Albrecht spent about an hour with students from the Project54 lab and those in my Ubicomp Fundamentals course. This was a more intimate setting for conversations about Albrecht’s research. Finally, Project54 staff and students spent a couple of hours discussing Project54 research with Albrecht – our work on handheld computers, on driving simulator-based investigations of in-car user interfaces and our budding efforts in multi-touch table interaction.

I am grateful to the UNH Provost’s Office for helping to fund Albrecht’s visit through a grant from the Class of 1954 Academic Enrichment Fund.


[1] Dagmar Kern, P. Marshall and Albrecht Schmidt, ” Gazemarks: gaze-based visual placeholders to ease attention switching,” CHI 2010

[2] Alireza Sahami Shirazi, Ari-Heikki Sarjanoja, Florian Alt, Albrecht Schmidt, and Jonna Häkkilä, J. “Understanding the impact of abstracted audio preview of SMS,” CHI 2010

Project54 on front page of New York Times

In a front page article of the March 11, 2010 edition of the New York Times Matt Richtel discusses in-vehicle electronic devices used by first responders. Based on a number of interviews, including one with me, Matt gets the point across that interactions with in-vehicle devices can distract first responders from the primary task for any driver: driving. The personal accounts from first responders are certainly gripping. Thanks Matt for bringing this issue to the public.

Enter Project54. According to Matt “[r]esearchers are working to reduce the risk.” He goes on to describe UNH’s Project54 system which allows officers to issue voice commands in order to interact with in-car electronic devices. This means officers can keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. The article includes praise for the Project54 system by Captain John G. LeLacheur of the New Hampshire State Police. The Project54 system was developed in partnership with the NHSP and almost every NHSP cruiser has the Project54 system installed.

Both the print and the online versions of the article begin with a picture of the Project54 in-car system. This great picture was taken by Sheryl Senter and it shows Sergeant Tom Dronsfield of the Lee, NH Police Department in action.

At the 2009 fall NIJ CommTech TWG meeting

On Wednesday and Thursday, Oskar Palinko, Mark Taipan and I participated in the NIJ CommTech Technical Working Group meeting. On Wednesday I gave the presentation below reporting on our lab’s progress.

View more presentations from Andrew Kun.

On Thursday we participated in the meeting’s demo session. We demonstrated the advantage of using voice commands to control a police radio over using the radio’s buttons. We used a single-computer driving simulator and a radio setup. Of course the first driving simulator experiment we published investigated this effect [1]. We also demonstrated accessing a remote database using the Project54 system running on a Symbol handheld computer. We expect that, once we get approval from the NH State Police to deploy such devices (NHSP is responsible for data access for all officers in the state), they will be a big hit with local departments.

One of the many people we had a chance to talk to at the TWG meeting is Gil Emery, Communications Manager at the Portsmouth, NH PD. Gil was interested in the handhelds and we may be able to work with him on using these handhelds as cameras that allow tagging pictures on the spot and then using a cellular network to transmit them to headquarters. This work would build on Michael Farrar’s MS thesis research.

You can see pictures from this event of Flickr.


[1] Zeljko Medenica, Andrew L. Kun, “Comparing the Influence of Two User Interfaces for Mobile Radios on Driving Performance,” Driving Assessment 2007