Thursday, November 27, 2008

Impressions of the Conference of Ambient Intelligence 2008 in Nuremberg

Next day after the workshop the AmI conference started. It was the first time I visited this conference and indeed it was a great experience:
A great portion of the papers (especially from Philips and others from the Netherlands) talked about designing applications for the elderly - interesting, challenging topic and great for funding. In particularly I enjoyed the presentation of [1] testing an navigation aid for the elderly by means of Wizard of Oz. As people with dementia can't remember things for long the standard instructions of navigation system "in 100m turn left" don't work, since these users won't remember. Thus, short-term and rather indirect instructions based on landmarks "after bench at your left turn right" had been tested proven more successful. I guess, learnings from this paper could be valueable for designers of standards navi apps. But, GPS is definitely not accurate enough for that.
Another nice paper [2] was investigating different means of end user programming for designing interactive shop environments. The authors compared 3D simulation vs. PDA mixed reality vs. programming by demonstrations. Apparently designers preferred the 3D environment, whereas the not so technically affine retailers preferred the PDA.

In his keynote, Joe Paradiso was presenting some ongoing projects of his group at MIT media lab dealing with gateways and interfaces between real-world and virtual world (2nd life - I thought it's already dead) [3]: either power plugs, or spinner gateways allow to interact between these two worlds in both ways.

Despite the technical fascination what one can do and build, I really missed the answer to the question my Ph.D. advisor Bernt Schiele was always asking for: "What's the message, what is it good for?" Apparantely, their research methodology looks as follows: build a new sensor device, do a video and let the people think what they would do with it...

Finally, I really enjoyed the work presented by Alireza Sahami Shirazi [4] about using multiple vibration motors for providing more complex haptic feedback to mobile users. Though the work presented was rather rudimentary, the idea of having six motors embedded in a box offers great opportunities for out I imagine, such as circular rotation patterns for navigation apps. Certainly it's about eyes free instead of eye-phone...

[1] F. N. Hagethorn, B. J. A. Kröse, P. de Greef and M. E. Helmer, Creating Design Guidelines for a Navigational Aid for Mild Demented Pedestrians, Ambient Intelligence European Conference, AmI 2008, Nuremberg, Germany, November 19-22, 2008.

[2] Mark van Doorn, Arjen de Vries and Emile Aarts End-User Software Engineering of Smart Retail Environments: The Intelligent Shop WindowAmbient Intelligence European Conference, AmI 2008, Nuremberg, Germany, November 19-22, 2008.

[3] Lifton, J., Feldmeier, M., Ono, Y., Lewis, C., and Paradiso, J. A. 2007. A platform for ubiquitous sensor deployment in occupational and domestic environments. In Proceedings of the 6th international Conference on information Processing in Sensor Networks

[4] Alireza Sahami, Paul Holleis , Albrecht Schmidt and Jonna Häkkilä, Rich Tactile Output on Mobile Devices, Ambient Intelligence European Conference, AmI 2008, Nuremberg, Germany, November 19-22, 2008. Proceedings

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