Research & Projects

As a computer scientist with a focus on users and user interfaces, my research interests lie where Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Interaction Design (IxD), Information VisualizationUbiquitous Computing, and Cognitive Science meet – or also clash.

I am intrigued by interdisciplinary research and collaboration that spans these different fields.

I am interested in designing, building, programming, and studying novel post-WIMP (post-“Windows Icons Menus Pointer”) user interfaces and interactive visualizations, e.g., (multi-) touch and gestural user interfaces, tangible user interfaces, or novel apps for interactive tables, walls, or rooms.

I have been working on designs and software frameworks for seamless cross-device interaction and visualization that enable (multiple) users to work across devices and to easily combine them as necessary (e.g. projects HuddleLamp and ZOIL).

I am also working on the human-centered design of the internet of things for smart cities, e.g. how to design urban sensors (see project SenCity) and visualizations to empower citizens (see project Data What?).

On a more theoretical level, I am very interested in how to apply cognitive science and embodied cognition to interaction and visualization design. I have proposed the conceptual framework of Blended Interaction together with my former colleagues of the University of Konstanz as a cognitive model that can help us to design more “natural” technologies with a better user experience. Furthermore, I have worked on a better understanding of fluid interaction for information visualization (e.g. project Facet-Streams).

USIVIS: User-Centered Interactive Visualization of Big Data (with School of Management, FH Upper Austria), 2016

In this 4-year project funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), we will work together with our colleagues from our School of Management (Campus Steyr) and industry partners to design, prototype, and evaluate the next generation of interactive data visualizations for “Big Data”. Our goal is to support our industry partners with novel designs and prototypes for the application domains of finance data and data from smart production facilities.

We will design, implement, and evaluate novel interaction and visualization techniques for cross-device and collaborative visualization using multiple tablets and large touch- and pen-enabled screens, e.g. Microsoft Surface Hub.

The project has a total volume of EUR 0.94 Mio and is funded with EUR 0.66 Mio by the Austrian FFG for 4 years.

More information: CHI 2017 full paper (to appear, Honorable Mention Paper Award at CHI 2017).

Designing & Understanding Cross-Device Interaction & Visualization (with University of Konstanz, University College London, and Aarhus University), since 2015

Technologies such as HuddleLamp, ZOIL or TwisterSearch enable us to work across multiple devices with very different form factors, e.g., smart phones, tablets, interactive tabletops, or walls. But how exactly should we design cross-device gestures and visualizations and how do the devices’ form factors affect cross-device collaboration? In this project, we build cross-device prototypes to evaluate different cross-device gestures and visualizations and to understand how different screen sizes and visualizations can change communication patterns among collaborators.

More information: CHI 2015 full paper, CHI 2016 full paper.

HuddleLamp: Ad-hoc Cross-Device Interaction & Visualization (with University of Konstanz, University College London, Intel ICRI Cities), since 2014

We present HuddleLamp, a desk lamp with an integrated RGB-D camera that precisely tracks the movements and positions of mobile displays and hands on a table. This enables a new breed of spatially-aware multi-user and multi-device applications for around-the-table collaboration without an interactive tabletop. At any time, users can add or remove displays and reconfigure them in space in an ad-hoc manner without the need of installing any software or attaching markers.

More information: huddlelamp.org, blog post about HuddleLamp on cities.io, and full paper from ITS 2014.

Best demo award at ACM ITS 2014. Over 50,000 views on YouTube. Featured on many leading tech blogs such as gizmodo.com

Data What? Urban Data Visualizations and Applications (University College London, Intel ICRI Cities), 2014 & 2015

Technologists conjure a future in which smart cities and the Internet of Things collect large amounts of data and provide them to companies and governments. But how could the citizens and their communities benefit from this? Can we build easy but powerful tools for using this data and empower citizens and their causes?

During our workshop in Somerleyton Road in Brixton, we worked together with the community-led development project Brixton Green to understand what data and services really matter to local residents, the local council, local activists, and artists. To inspire citizens, we provided them with a data visualization tool for tablets that helped them understand and compare air pollution in Brixton and London.

More information:  Two workshop papers at CHI 2015  Who Should Lead the Development of Community Technology? and HuddleLamp: Exploring Community Data with Co-located Mobile Screens

Embodied Navigation in Information Spaces (with University of Konstanz and University College London), 2012-2015

Recent findings from Embodied Cognition reveal strong effects of arm and hand movement on spatial memory. This suggests that input techniques may have a far greater influence on users’ cognition and users’ ability to master a system than we typically believe – especially for navigating in information spaces. We conducted different studies of mouse and multi-touch input and also embodied/egocentric peephole navigation to understand how body movement and gesturing affects spatial navigation and memory performance.

More information: Full paper at AVI 2012, full paper at ITS 2013, full paper at CHI 2014, note at CHI 2015.

Blended Interaction (with University of Konstanz), 2009-2013

We introduce Blended Interaction, a new conceptual framework that helps to explain when users perceive user interfaces as “natural” or not. Based on recent findings from embodied cognition and cognitive linguistics, Blended Interaction provides a novel and more accurate description of the nature of human-computer interaction (HCI). In particular, it introduces the notion of conceptual blends to explain how users rely on familiar and real-world concepts whenever they learn to use new digital technologies.

More information: Journal article on Blended Interaction in Pers. and Ubiq. Computing, June 2014, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1139-1158.

SenCity (University College London, Intel ICRI Cities), 2013

In SenCity we explored how the physical design of urban sensors (i.e. shape, appearance) can change city dwellers’ attitudes and perceptions towards being sensed. We organized a workshop at UbiComp 2013 and let participants try out different physical designs in the city to gather first reactions. For example, we found that anthropomorphic and zoomorphic designs resulted in greater engagement and trust while neutral or less visible designs created rejection and anxiety.

More information: Urb-IoT 2014 paper Suspicious Boxes and Friendly Aliens: Exploring the Physical Design of Urban Sensing Technology 

ZOIL: Zoomable Object-Oriented Information Landscape (University of Konstanz, Microsoft Research Cambridge), 2007-2013

The ZOIL paradigm is the main topic of my PhD thesis on designing and implementing multi-user and multi-device interactive spaces.  It consists of design principles, an open source software framework, and example prototypes.

More information: PhD thesis.

Awarded with the Airbus Defence and Space Research Award Claude Dornier 2014  and the Prize of the Alumni Organization of the University of Konstanz (VEUK) for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation.

NAVI – Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired (University of Konstanz), 2011

We present a proof-of-concept of a mobile navigational aid that uses the Microsoft Kinect and optical marker tracking to help visually impaired people find their way inside buildings. The system is the result of a student project and is entirely based on low-cost hard- and software. It provides continuous vibrotactile feedback on the person’s waist, to give an impression of the environment and to warn about obstacles.

Best poster award at INTERACT 2011. Over 160,000 hits on YouTube. Featured in Opening Keynote of Microsoft Mix Conference 2011.

Facet-Streams: Fluid interaction for InfoVis (University of Konstanz, Microsoft Research Cambridge), 2010/2011

We introduce “Facet-Streams”, a hybrid interactive surface for co-located collaborative product search on a tabletop. Facet-Streams combines techniques of information visualization with tangible and multi-touch interaction to materialize collaborative search on a tabletop. It harnesses the expressive power of facets and Boolean logic without exposing users to complex formal notations.

The Facet-Streams UI with tangbile and multi-touch interaction serves as a best-in-class example for fluid interaction for information visualization.

More information: Facet-Streams paper and video (Honorable Mention Paper Award at CHI 2011) and journal article on Fluid Interaction for Information Visualization.

DeskPiles (University of Konstanz, Microsoft Research Cambridge), 2009/2010

The DeskPiles prototype was developed as a part of a cooperation project between the HCI Group of the University of Konstanz, the Integrated Systems team at Microsoft Research Cambridge, and the NanoPhotonics Centre at the University of Cambridge. It supported NanoPhotonics researchers during sharing and discussing lab results by closely integrating tablet PCs with an interactive tabletop.

More information in my PhD Thesis and in the DeskPiles video on YouTube.

Digital In-Car Manual – Digitale Betriebsanleitung (University of Konstanz, Daimler AG / Mercedes Benz), 2009

In this industry project we explored novel ways to integrate digital and interactive car manuals into passenger vehicles. To achieve this, we used existing infotainment systems and combined them with smart phones.

A Browser for Rear-Seat Entertainment (University of Konstanz, Volkswagen AG/Audi AG), 2009

In this industry project we explored novel ways to integrate Web browsers as rear seat entertainment into luxury vehicles.

More information: Paper on optimized mouse cursor movement for automotive scenarios.

MedioVis / Blockbuster (University of Konstanz, Library of the University of Konstanz, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG), 2004-2007

MedioVis is concerned with the user-centred development of next generation visual information seeking systems for novice and non-expert users. A central design goal of the MedioVis interface is to offer interaction focussed on supporting realistic human search behaviour: Not only analytical queries but also browsing-oriented strategies shall be supported, for example by allowing a quick overview, filtering, zooming into details, and “surfing” within the search results.

More information: MedioVis page and Blockbuster page.

MedioVis was deployed at the Library of the University of Konstanz and in everyday use by students from 2004 to 2014. MedioVis/Blockbuster also made the 3rd place of IEEE InfoVis Contest 2007.