Monday, December 5, 2011

MoMo #28 Mobile Internet of Things

The mobile monday switzerland, a community of mobile industry professionals, investigated the applications for Machine to Machine and the Internet of Things.
I in my opening talk I briefly talked about general concept of the Internet of Things of linking things to information.

The message I conveyed was to no longer focus top-down on general concepts of how to grass-root the Internet of Things but rather to explore its applications and let the architectures and concepts follow as an evolutionary process. Understanding the use of objects in daily routine and business processes should provide the starting point for Internet of Things research and developments.

Oliver Thyes from Swisscom gave several examples of Internet of Things services in Switzerland, e.g. Limmex - a watch with integrated wireless alarm upon a button press. He positioned Swisscom as the partner for businesses to manage Internet of Things services themselves as well as the billing of them coupled with security mechanisms. This again showed to me how mobile network operators seek in the Internet of Things to find a way out of the declining revenues of voice communication. However, instead of offering specific end to end services, e.g. track and traces of products or managed wireless sensor networks, these corporations still rely on the provision of very generic platforms providing bandwidth and billing of Internet of Things services.
Alexander Gellner from Ericsson looked on the Internet of Things from the perspective of a mobile network infrastructure provider. He was putting some predictions on display talking about several billions of devices being connected soon and of course finalized his presentation with Ericsson's prediction of 50 billions of devices. Assuming 50 billions running on SIM cards is ten times more than MNO's have today which probably would be an alternative to shrinking voice revenues. However, SIM connection will be only necessary in remote areas where no infrastructure is available.
Charles Upchurch from SilentSoft has reported about the practical challenges of sensing the status of oil tanks and assets in gas stations. He gave nice examples of how to build antennas and package devices to make them robust against water and frozen ice.
Philipp Bolliger
from Koubachi, monitoring the health of plants and giving care advices, took the opposite approach. He proposed to get rid of this central sensing units but rather to rely on infrastructure which has become standard indoors almost everywhere: wifi. Instead of instrumenting each sensor with SIM connection just connecting to allows for a much more cost efficient approach.

From this event I learned that the Internet of Things still is a term which is occupied by various stakeholders to market their existing products. The ultimate vision of an Internet of Things instrumenting the world with sensors for multiple purposes and allowing third parties to run new services upon this infrastructure has yet to be realized as an evolutionary process departing from the island solution as promoted today.

I'm also looking forward how this mobile monday event also representing the first Internet of Things Zurich Meetup will evolve and get established as a new platform for entrepreneurs, designers and everyone else interested in doing projects related to Internet of Things.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Erica Dubach's Dissertation about Social Media in Retail

Erica Dubach has defended her thesis today. She investigated the opportunities of social media in retail, all her data is build upon a project in cooperation with Valora. Erica was so much into her topic that she even spend a day full-time working at a Kiosk in order to understand the processes there!!!

Her thesis makes three contributions. First, she describes a process model of how to successfully apply crowd-sourcing for eliciting novel business ideas. She describes the crowd-sourcing process using Atizo and derives best practices [1]. Second, she reports about the process of successfully building up Valora's ok,- Facebook brand page and distills a process model incorporating a deliberation, preparation, moderating & monitoring and evaluation phase [2]. Third, Erica managed promote facebook comments on in-store screens distributed in 15 kiosks for 5 weeks. By analyzing the effects of the comments on sales she could prove significant increase but still lower compared to traditional advertising. Thus, Erica reasons a combination of traditional advertising and Facebook comments as a new opportunity to think of [3].
Erica has defended her thesis very well, I'm excited whether to see her in a leading social media marketing position in retail soon! Good luck, Dr. Erica!!!

[1] Crowdsourcing for “Kiosk of the Future” – A Retail Store Case Study, Erica Dubach Spiegler, Louise Muhdi, Dominic Stöcklin, Florian Michahelles, Proceedings of the Seventeenth Americas Conference on Information Systems, Detroit, Michigan, August 4th-7th 2011 [PDF].
[2] Effect of Moderator Posts on User Interaction on a Facebook Brand Page, Irena Pletikosa Cvijikj, Erica Dubach Spiegler, Florian Michahelles, 3rd International Conference on Social Computing (SocialCom 2011), Boston, USA, October 2011. [pdf to be published after the event]
[3] Social Networks in Pervasive Advertising and Shopping, E. Dubach Spiegler, F. Michahelles, C. Hildebrand in Müller, Jörg; Alt, Florian; Michelis, Daniel (Eds.), Pervasive Advertising, Springer Human–Computer Interaction, September 2011. ISBN 978-0-85729-351-0

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Surveillance to everything

Alessandro Acquisti from Carnegie Mellon University recently prove the concept of (1) identifying anonymous users of flirt portals and (2) students passing a webcam via their publicly accessible Facebook profiles, and (3) even guess their social security number as an example of retrieving additional data about the from the web [1]2.He reasons from this experiment that social networks become the real ID's of users in the net. While users intentionally choose to be present on the web the consequences of linking published data with each cannot be anticipated. However, opt-in does not work either as we are usually in already or somebody put us in. He does not provide a solution but rather recommends "to reconsider our notions of privacy".
At least Moore's law helps to drive down technology costs and, as such, also democratizessurveillance technology (see also the DIY drones). Thus, we don't have to be afraid of one big brother but can rather benefit from a competition of ideas and implement our own.
Why should the surveillance cameras in the streets only be for the benefit of authorities, police, banks and corporations? As the cameras are there already today and I cannot avoid them anyway, wouldn't it be much more transparent if I could trace back my day in the city as seen by the cameras? There is also the example of Malte Spitz (German MP) who successfully claimed mobile phone logs about his mobile phone trace from his TelCo provider. There is a nice visualization and overlay with publicly available social networks data here. If this data would be just available for the user by default services could be build and data even shared.
As Google+ proposes to organize social relationships in circles, I could also authorize circles of acquaintances (perhaps even limited by time and location) to partly access my trace. Perhaps this helps me and my friends to run into each other more frequently [2].

By instrumenting even things with surveillance, could be visual but also combined with NFC/barcode/foursquare checkin/etc., my bike lock could tell me how many people touched it during the day, the light post could send an SMS to the guy who was kicking it, the umbrella I found in the train could tell its owner that I have it, the chair I sat on in the restaurant could ask how comfortable I found it...
As surveillance is on-going and increasing I'd propose to make it more transparent, accessible for others to build services, and acceptable through little benefits. Let our things turn the world into a better place. Finding the right balance between empowering people to control they data without overloading will be crucial (e.g. see Albrecht's blog about Google's circles).

[1] Alessandro Acquisti, Ralph Gross, Fred Stutzman: Faces of Facebook: Privacy in the Age of Augmented Reality. BlackHat Las Vegas, August 4, 2011
[2] Williamson, J., Robinson, S., Stewart, C., Murray-Smith, R., Jones, M., Brewster, S. (2010). Social Gravity: A Virtual Elastic Tether for Casual, Privacy-Preserving Pedestrian Rendezvous. Accepted, to appear in Proceedings of CHI 2010, Atlanta, April 2010.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tesco Homeplus Virtual Subway Store in South Korea: go shopping through real world clicks

Tesco presents a nice example of how to boost traffic on their online shopping platform
through real world interaction: Large-scale photos of real supermarket shelfs are put as posters to metro subway walls where users can order products at the online store by interacting with 2D barcodes attached next to products:

I guess many other services could benefit as well from this one-"real"-click shop solution, such as travel, electronics, music. I really wonder why this is not yet happening.

Friday, July 1, 2011

1st Call For Papers for NFC 2012

NFC 2012 is the Fourth International Research Workshop with focus on Near Field Communication (NFC). This conference covers the entire technological area, beginning from RF and hardware, smartcards approach, security, applications and services, business processes, up to usability and user experience. NFC 2012 is ideal for addressing the challenges facing multidisciplinary research, development, design, and proof of concepts, pilot projects, deployment and fundamental limits of the NFC technology.

Date: March 13th, 2012 Location: Helsinki, Finland

NFC 2012 is technically co-sponsored by IEEE Finland Section

Selective Topics of Interest

RF & hardware related topics:
High-speed RF interfaces; Modulation techniques; Circuits and antenna design; Power aware design; Modelling and simulation; NFC tests & measurements; Protocol analyses and verification methods; Physical interfaces & architectures; Interoperability between NFC devices, tags and smartcards; RF system-on-chip designs; Wireless charging

Smartcards / SIM cards / Security:
Single wire protocol (SWP); Global platform; Multi-application platforms (SIM centric or not); Secure & multi-secure elements; Secure over the air (OTA) services; Security solutions for readers and terminals; System security solutions

Software platforms for NFC development:
Solutions with NFC add-ons and NFC stickers, software architectures; Smartphones and NFC for location based information services, NFC and augmented reality platforms, NFC m-payment and m-transfer architecture, Interaction systems in ubiquitous information systems; Interoperability between NFC applications and services

New applications & services:
NFC and social media (Facebook, Twitter...); NFC applications for consumers and citizens; Mobile value added services (VAS) using NFC; NFC ecosystems (e.g. tag management); NFC in business processes; Integration of NFC into “Internet Of Things” (IOT); Street and POS marketing with NFC; NFC services in education

Pilot projects, usability and user experience:
NFC and digital cities, airports, homes; Wellness; Homecare; Business usage & leisure activities; User interaction models for NFC applications; Acceptance of NFC devices and services; Field trials and pilots; Secure NFC ecosystem; Virtual ticketing and couponing with NFC, fidelization of NFC cards; User experiences of NFC applications

Important dates
  • 1st Call For Papers: July, 1st, 2011
  • Submission start date: September, 15th, 2011
  • Full Paper Submission Deadline: October, 28th, 2011
  • Author Notification: November 30th, 2011
  • Proceedings Version: December 16th, 2011
  • Author Registration: January 13th, 2012
  • Conference/Workshop: March 13th, 2012

Submission Guidelines and Publication
Authors are invited to submit research and application papers in IEEE Proceedings Manuscripts style (two columns, single-spaced, including figures and references, using 10pt fonts). The papers must not have more than 6 pages. Please use ONLY the following templates (for LaTeX or MS Word).

We appreciate the submission of academic workshop papers representing original, previously unpublished work. Submitted papers will be carefully evaluated based on originality, significance, technical soundness, and clarity of exposition. Duplicate submissions are not allowed. Therefore, submissions of work either submitted to, or already accepted or published in any other conferences/workshops/journals are rejected without reviews.

The link to our conference management system for registration and paper submission will be available on our website. The corresponding author must provide the following information: paper title, all authors’ names, affiliation and contact information, an abstract with about 200-250 words and about five keywords.
Submission of a paper implies that if the paper will be accepted, at least one of the authors must register for the workshop to present the paper. Otherwise the submitted paper will not be published.
Authors of accepted papers will receive guidelines in preparing and submitting the final manuscript together with the notification of acceptance.

Organization Committee
Josef Langer, Stefan Grünberger, Michael Roland, Christian Saminger, Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences
Tuomo Tuikka, Matti Penttilä, Erkki Siira, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Florian Michahelles, Auto-ID Labs, ETH Zurich
Serge Miranda, University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis
Jari Hannuksela, University of Oulu, IEEE Finland Section

Website: For further questions please contact

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

IoT in China revisited: centralized views and smart cities are taking off

Again, I had the chance to attend the IoT Conference organized by Shanghai International Exhibition in China, a continuation of the series started in 2010. The audience included about 400 participants from business all over China. I contrast to last year, about half of the speakers were international.

The session started with welcome notes from various honorable people, such as Wang Lie from CCPIT Shanghai promoting trade, Wang Xi from Shanghai Institute of Microsystems, Shuguang Liu from IOTCC, a newly founded body to coordinate between enterprises and government funding, and An Xiaoping from MIIT (ministry of industry and information technology). All speakers emphasized the business opportunities of IoT as being huge for the future in China.

Chenghai Zhang, a former leader of the post telecommunication ministry, went even more in detail in his very energetic presentation (so energetic that the translator faded out from time to time) and proposed IoT as a way for recovering from the economic crisis, a new technical revolution. He mentioned the capabilities of IoT to broaden the access to economy for new users, to transform the Chinese industry from manufacturing into providing higher value services, and to extend today's value chains by new business concepts.

After that opening, some leaders were called to the stage to trigger short demos featuring NFC, fingerprint, 2D-reader, LBS and RFID technology – exposing those is the core building blocks of an emerging Chinese IoT.

The conference was opened with the first keynote by Ed Schuster from MIT. He started with a quote from Ian Waitz which described that MIT during its 150 years of existence had built infrastructure the first 75 years, and had created industry the second 75 years. Thus, the next 75 years should be devoted for applying this knowledge to build a better planet. Ed gave some examples semantic information processing as part of his work within the data center[1]. I think this perspective of big data [2] should be further investigated as part of Internet of Things research.

This talk was followed by a talk about smart cities by Bin Cao from Datang Telecom, a telecom equipment manufacturer. He again emphasized the view of extending IoT to all industries in China in order to collect, network and communicate even more information within China. As the main challenge of cities in China today he mentioned one-time funding during construction without sufficient budget of maintenance. Furthermore, planning divisions have to improve collaboration, development should be better identified, standards should be enforced, and finally processes should be designed to allow for more sustainability.
As a specific example Bin Cao presented a centralized control system for cities where "efficient modules" collect data and provide services to the citizens. I challenged his assumption of “identifying people’s needs and providing services accordingly” by proposing to follow open data policies for empowering individuals and business to provide services in addition to centralized authoritive units in order to allow for more diverse and competition among services.
In my talk (slides) I proposed to go beyond IoT in supply-chains and seeking for opportunities of accessing tacit knowledge of people and individuals. I gave examples of my2cents and appaware as opportunities of new services based on user-generated content. While user-generated content is probably not at the core of IoT, I see the IoT as an important enabler for developing new services including user input.

Later, Paul Havinga presented a nice definition of IoT:

Everything is networked; Smart objects and global connectivity allows for open multi-purpose services.

Thus, IP cannot be solution, not even the low-power versions as 6LoWPAN as being too expensive and too complex for cheap and small devices. Instead, he proposed the integration of various technologies coupled with embedded intelligence as a way for establishing distributed collaboration. The IoT would allow to collect information and to make information available right at where the action is.

Finally, IoT-A hosted a Session and provided an update of its activities.

The second day was opened by Prof. Hao Min who presented several projects of Anti-Counterfeiting. He mentioned tagging of Wulangje liquor which I already reported about here (link) . Alan Thorne from the Cambridge Lab reported about several activities at the Cambridge lab concering discovery services and applications in airline industry.

Prof. Wei Zhao from University of Macau, leader of the 973 IoT project, mentioned the inauguration of IoT colleges. As core topics he proposed computer science, software architectures and sensors. He explained the IoT as being built upon sensing, generating virtual measures, and dealing with the challenge of fusion of data. As a main challenge he put identification of objects.He was elaborating on how identifying. While I agree on this challenge, I also think that progress has been made when thinking of all the different numbering schemes that already exist in industry. As the history of the Auto-ID center has shown, posing a new global numbering fails. Instead, building upon and fusing established schemes is the way to go.

Toru Murase from Sumitomo Electric industries was proposing FTTH as a backbone of running an Internet of Things in the home, mobility network.

Jin Mitsugi was talking about an Internet of Consumer Electronics. For this he introduced a dual interface RFID tag developed by Keio and Fudan Auto-ID Lab allowing to read an RFID tag both from an RFID reader. Thus a newly developed data XML can be read from http, apps, and through a gateteway from home network appliances. They have installed the system in 49 consumer devices so far for monitoring the energy consumption [3]. In combination with IR-sensors counting people, consumer devices could be switched off.

Daeyoung Kim took his inspiration from Hollywood movies, such as minority report and motivated the need of software infrastructure by new verions of facebook/twitter/google for objects. ID-based network with thing’s application level protocol “id- based network for Internet of things”. He mentioned lightweigth Ipv6, 6lowpan and RoL as common alternatives and then introduced SNAIL allowing for mobility management security and routing.

Finally, smart cities was discussed as a hot topic for IoT. Ono Mitsutoshi from Kashima Consulting focused on the development process of smart cities, Yokoi Masaki from Nomura Research envisioned several IoT apps for citizens in smart cities. He proposed that China should understand what smart city means for China of just copy-paste-ing from US. As layers he outlined network layer, platform layer for recognition/identification/authentification, and the application layer for apps.

Michael Zhang from Shanghai Youth Info-tech was talkbing about making life better. He focused on the example of Pudong Xinqu area, the neighborhood of Shanghai where most multi-nationals and expatriates reside. He presented a credit-card combined with access functionality to private spaces. A house-keeper application allows for convenience services implement in a cloud: you can virtually queue in line of hospitals, such that you can wait from home. Also, you can shop from remote, obtain registrations, e.g. dog permit, and banking. Whereas in this app is reasonable in the current context, I was wondering why not also working on changing procedures and introducing planning to get rid of queues.

Finally, I was a bit scared of the "red light app" which warns if pedestrians cross a red light and inform authorities accordingly. When walking through Shanghai I'd rather appreciate a green light app sending an SMS to the car drivers who were pushing really hard to find their way through the crowds pedestrians. Overall, I was a bit skeptical whether reducing human mankind to shopping animals always hunting for bargains and aiming at getting rich while being continuously controlled by government would yield flourishing smart city I'd like to live in.

My take-aways:
  • IoT is proposed as a way out of China’s disappearing business case: low manufacturing costs are disappearing due to increasing salaries and the currency under pressure adjusting the low peg to US dollar. Ways have to be found to transform industry to go beyond manufacturing and provide more valuable services higher up in the value chain.
  • Still a very centralized view: During the conference it was mentioned several times that building the IoT would allow to collect and share data within China more efficiently. International collaboration was never really mentioned other than learning and adopting from others in order to follow the national agenda.
  • More concerns about information security than privacy: Throughout the discussions I experienced that fear about external forces/attacks is more established than protection privacy. The notion of control is more severe than establishing an environment of diversity and creativity. This contradicts quite a bit with the notion of IoT from Council which sees governments getting more and more challenged by an IoT, where individuals and groups gain more power due to open pools of data knowledge (OpenData).
  • Smart city is the major topic for Iot in China: Smart cities is a major topic in China. As part of the global trend of people moving towards cities, the mega-cities, compact spaces where millions of people live and work, are happening in Asia. Thus, city governments are facing tremendous challenges of providing public infrastructure and services. Information and sensing technologies will become important. Making sense out of this data and connecting all the emerging systems is where IoT comes into play. Finally, construction industries always share close relations to public and governmental funds, thus smart cities fit right into "thinking big".
  • IoT drives economy in China at least until 2012: I met several Chinese funding agencies promoting IoT for industry. However, as a new president is going to be elected in 2012 it's not yet clear whether he will put the same emphasis on IoT as Hu Jintao does today. Thus, organizing our IoT2012 Conference in Shanghai/Wuxi in November 2012 should be the right moment.
[1] Edmund W. Schuster, Stuart J. Allen, and David L. Brock. 2007. Global RFID: The Value of the Epcglobal Network for Supply Chain Management. Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., Secaucus, NJ, USA.

[2] Big Data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity, McKinsey Global Institute, May 2011

[3] Katumasa Ihara, Goshi Kojima, Tomonori Kondo, Yuki Sato, Hisakazu Hada, Jin Mitsugi, “Home energy consumption suppression using EPC enabled multi-vendor consumer electronics control”, IEICE Technical Report USN2011-7 (2011-5), pp.29-37

[4] Sungmin Hong, Daeyoung Kim, Minkeun Ha, Sungho Bae, Sangjun Park, Wooyoung Jung, and Jae-eon Kim, "SNAIL: An IP-based Wireless Sensor Network Approach Toward the Internet of Things," IEEE Wireless Communications, 17(6):34-42, Dec. 2010.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Forget about genius - just think about numbers

Today, I had the pleasure to host Denis Harscoat from Quantter talking about the quantified self [1] in my seminar. Denis illustrated nicely the power of numbers when describing challenges, quality and goals. I could well follow his argument of numbers yielding "serenity, peace, and happiness". You easily can state you want to be "good", "better", "excellent" - however, numbers are still better to describe performance or goals. Thus, the underlying idea of the quantified self is to collect, visualize [3], make sense of data and ultimately, change behavior [4].
Denis gave nice historical examples from Benjamin Franklin, Da Vinci and others showing the power self-inspection and changing behavior. Technological evoluation, he argues, finally allows to overcome the media breaks and collect data more smoothly, one example is the mood scope:

Quantter aims at going even a step further by establishing a platform, a market place of self-reported data: collected either manually by quants (tweets following a syntax, e.g. #swim: 15min) or automatically using one these logger devices (e.g. Fitbit, Zeo, DirectLife). Denis used the metaphore of "connecting the dots". Instead of having single dots of data, Quantter aims at drawing the complete picture of oneself. Denis emphasized the importance and business of values of connectors and interface: while technology may change for services to live on connectors are key. Quantter's default is public, private is the premium service. Establishing a maket for linking between achievers and coaches is the long-term goal. Finally, history is the best predictor for the future. Thus, quantifying routines could for keeping memories, improving in certain disciplines, or just for recording and prediciting success.

I was really fascinated about the brave vision of Quantter deliberately not solving a business or pain, but to rather bet on the emerging trend of self-tracking, social tracking and crowd counting.
In the following discussion Denis referred to the 10.000 hour rule stating if you just work enough you can do it. Whether or not this holds, I don't know, but justifies to keep on trying. Denis also defined the role of entrepreneurs to bridge between today's disbelief and what's going to be happen in the future.
If we only look for need, I'm once more understood, we may loose many innovations: who was waiting for facebook, iphone, google maps ten years ago?

[1] Kevin Kelly's Quantified Self
[2] Wolf, G.: Know Thyself: Tracking Every Facet of Life. Wired Magazine, June 22, 2009.
[3] Gary Wolf on the quantified self (
[4] Brennan Moore, Max Van Kleek, David R. Karger, Mc Schraefel: Assisted Self Reflection: Combining Lifetracking, Sensemaking, & Personal Information Management, In CHI 2010 Workshop - Know Thyself: Monitoring and Reflecting on Facets of One's Life, April 2010

Friday, April 1, 2011

Research of the Auto-ID Labs presented at GS1 event

As part of their research for GS1, members of the Auto-ID Labs research network give regular updates about their applied research in the areas of RFID technology & performance, consumer services and future trends of auto-id technologies.

The most recent update (overview) was provided at GS1's Industry and Standards Event in Brooklyn, March 2011.

Ed Schuster from MIT presented (slides) recent work about using RFID together with polymer material as powerless sensors to measure temperature and strain of bridges. As such, the safety of the material of bridges could be continuously measured and fed directly to the
EPCglobal Architecture Framework.

Jin Mitsugi from the Keio Lab reported (slides) about how to improve the lifecycle management of electric appliances in the home. As the EPC has been established in supply-chains but the consumers in the homes are missing the ability to read and write information to these RFID tags, Mitsugi presented a dual interface passive RFID tag: it incorporates the standards UHF Gen 2 interface for standards RFID readers and it additionally features a basedband interface to the tag's memory which can the linked to ZigBee/WLAN or any other appropriate connection being available in the home. Thus, a system can be build to manage the lifecycle of appliances also beyond the point of sales in people's homes.

Myself I had the chance to discuss (slides) the increasing popularity of shopping apps and the importance of barcode scanning in retail. As part of this research I disclosed first results of our analysis concerning barcode data inconsistencies. Triggered by GS1's Data Crunch report [1], we investigated the responses to 220.000 barcode queries triggered by users of two productive mobile apps. We compared the responses of different information providers and could reveal missing information (37% of the queries), wrong information and inconsistent information (spelling, multiple names for single barcodes).
The analysis is still on-going and will be summarized in an upcoming publication and whitepaper.
One approach might also be to position GS1 as the authorative source for barcode information.

Finally, Mark Harrison reported (slides) about recent projects in aerospace, lifecycle management, and event-based pedigreee for healthcare.
For details see also here.

Overall, it has been a very helpful discussion about future research directions of the Auto-ID Labs. It was good to see that the academic perspective of the labs and the business-focussed view of GS1 and members has many topics in common: consumers services, quality of barcode master data and the provision of GS1 master to consumer apps. The labs are looking forward to support GS1 in becoming the trusted source of master data for barcode consumer apps.

Visiting Manhattan, first, I was surprised about the crazy weather and, second, about IMHO a really complicated queuing system at the check-out of Whole Foods: customers are queueing in six lines, each assigned with a color. Then both screen display and audio announcement advice the customers in the pole positions of their lines to approach to a specific checkout identified by a number, run!,...

[1] GS1 UK: V.C., Data crunch report: The impact of bad data on profits and customer service in the UK grocery industry, 2009.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Call for Paper: Workshop on Mobile Interaction in Retail Environments (MIRE) at MobileHCI 2011

CALL FOR PAPERS (with apologies for cross-posting)


Workshop on Mobile Interaction in Retail Environments (MIRE)

at MobileHCI 2011

Sven Gehring, Markus Löchtefeld, Carsten Magerkurth Petteri Nurmi & Florian Michahelles

Stockholm, Sweden

August 30th 2011


People no longer only go shopping when they need something, shopping has become one of the most popular leisure time activities in economically advanced countries. Smartphone apps focusing on shopping are being increasingly adopted. The variety of available mobile shopping applications is huge, but the users’ and retailers’ benefit are yet to be understood.

The workshop on mobile interaction in retail environments (MIRE) brings together researchers and practitioners from academy and industry to explore the following research questions: (1) What are the unique properties and affordances of mobile applications for retail environments? (2) How can consumers be supported in their decision making process? (3) How can mechanisms of eCommerce be combined with brick and mortar stores? (4)How can social media be integrated? (5)Which are the new business concepts and channels suiting both consumers’ and retailers’ needs?

The goals of the workshop include, but are not limited to:

discuss latest solutions in mobile retailing;

construct a roadmap for mobile retailing and

build a community for this emerging and new topic.

We invite both case studies discussing real-world deployments and original research contributions in one of the following topic areas:

mobile applications for retail contexts,

infrastructure combining eCommerce with brick and mortar stores

social media in the retail context,

business models and social impact.

=== Workshop Format and Submissions ===

MIRE is a full-day workshop with an extended thematic scope and aim at wider audience with multidisciplinary insights being explicitly encouraged. We ask for papers that address one or more of the research questions mentioned above, or that describe findings that relate to these research questions based on systems the authors have built.

Papers should be formatted according to the standard HCI Archive format. ( please remove the copyright notice). Papers should be submitted by email to At least one author of an accepted paper is required to register for the workshop.

will be reviewed by at least three members of an international program committee. All accepted papers will be made available online and will be published at Sun SITE Central Europe (CEUR) Workshop Proceedings .


April 20, 2011: Submission Deadline

May 15, 2011: Author Notification

May 31, 2011: Submission of camera-ready version

August 30, 2011: Workshop in Stockholm, Sweden

=== Website and more Information ===

If you have any additional questions please contact us via:

=== Organizers ===

Sven Gehring, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Germany

Markus Löchtefeld, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Germany

Carsten Magerkurth, SAP Research, Switzerland

Petteri Nurmi, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, Finland

Florian Michahelles, ETH Zürich, Auto-ID Labs, Switzerland

=== Program Committee ===

Antonio Krüger (DFKI)

Antti Salovaara (HIIT)

Carsten Röcker (RWTH Aachen)

Enriko Rukzio (University Duisburg Essen)

Felix von Reischach (SAP Switzerland)

Frank Rehme (METRO)

Jörg Müller (T-Labs)

Michael Beigl (KIT)

Michael Rohs (LMU Munich)

Shin’ichi Konomi (University of Tokyo)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NFC is striking back - NFC Congress 2011 in Hagenberg

At the recent NFC Congress 2011 in Hagenberg organized by Joseph Langer, I felt that participants and speakers shared the strong belief that NFC is finally coming - "if Apple does it, it can't be wrong.". Eventhough not many visitors realized it, the conference badge had an NFC tag embedded storing the participants' contacts. Touching the badges with the Google Nexus S phone I could easily import the contacts into my phone's address book, it just worked without any further excitement! My first NFC commodity service. However, from a user experience it does feel strange grabbing ones badge and touching it with your phone...

The first speaker, Andreas Jackl from Nokia, was introducing to the development frameworks of Qt and Symbian. Windows Mobile was mentioned of course, but a coherent strategy of how this parallelism to QT/Symbian will co-exist in the future was not visible. Further talks from smaller local solution providers presented existing work-a-rounds for NFC-enabling phones and speculated about Apple's NFC strategy.

In the afternoon I had the chance to chair two session of the 3rd International Workshop on Near Field Communication (NFC 2011). Gregor Broll from Docomo-Eurolabs presented touch-based interaction with public displays using grids of NFC tags as an alternative to touch screens. While the accuracy of the system was rather low, the users from the described study seemed to appreciate the interaction [1]. Andreas Prinz from University of Kassel presented an NFC-poster describing a workflow for patients with impaired motor skills to report their health status [2]. Michael Gebhard from NXP Graz presented the design of a contactless smartcard sticker not being disturbed by the metal material of the phone it is sticked to [3]. The work presented both simulations and measurements which should be very rewarding to implement the ferrit-coil concept also for RFID tags in metal environments.
Michael Koch from Hagenberg analyzed the vulnerabilities of signed NDEF. He presented nice examples about how these only partially signed NDEF segments could be rearranged by an attacker while still being recognized as correctly signed [4]. This is really something the NFC Forum should think about considering their specs. Martin Gossar from TU Graz presented phase-shift-keying modulation as way to increase the data rates in NFC communication [5]. Roel Verdult from Radboud University Nijmegen was revealing a security hole in Nokia's method of automatically evoking a bluetooth connection upon touching a tag. Verdult showed how infected smart posters could be used to inject a virus onto one's phone [5].

On the second day Charles Dachs from NXP was providing some arguments why NFC would be in a better position now than six years ago. First the penetration of smart phones (20%, >1 billion) has increased. Second, based on NXP NFC chip sales OEM's are investing now and the number of NFC-enabled handset should increase (I guess he was careful enough not to compare to the hype numbers of 20% of all phones once shared in 2007). Third, the network providers would finally invest in NFC. Fifth, the contactless infrastructure would be increasing. Dachs presented NFC as connecting the virtual world with touch-points in the real world. He showed a number of touch-point examples to be installed in Starbucks. To close with a number, he expected 50 million NFC devices to be shipped this year (which is far below initial predictions from ABI Research of 450 million).
Jure Sustersic from Nokia reported about 150 million of Symbian devices where of "many" would be NFC-enabled, not quite matching "all new Nokia smartphones to come with NFC from 2011" from last year. Tuomo Tuikka from VTT reported about the Smart Urban Spaces Project. The user experience of finding NFC tags in urban spaces and receiving information would be superior to location-based GPS applications. Zhiyun Ren from the T-Labs presented an NFC-based mobile wallet which can feature endless numbers of credit-card schemes on the mobile phone. He showed a demo that worked. Stefan Cecil from Seibersdorf Labs presented the design of a textile tag based on copper-wires weaved into textile fabric. Monto Kumagai from XtremeSignPost presented NFC-based postcards as a means of advertising products by sharing personal experiences.

Overall, the NFC Congress has confirmed my feeling from half a year ago (see here) that NFC is coming back. Nothing has changed about scenarios and business models: coupons, smart posters and payment are still the major ones. The discussion about where to put the secure element might dissolve by just putting several secure elements into a phone, one for the bank, one for the handset manufacturer, and one for the network operator. As new NFC-enabled handset arrive on the market, it will be rather niche players proving their innovativeness to start to deploy 2D-barcode stickers with NFC-tags on the background. URL's will be first, control of apps perhaps later. It's starting now, the only difficult things to predict: how long will we have to wait for mass adoption?

[1] G. Broll, W. Graebsch, M. Scherr, S. Boring, P. Holleis, M. Wagner: Touch to Play - Exploring Touch-Based Mobile Interaction with Public Displays, Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Near Field Communication (NFC'2011), Feb. 2011

[2] Andreas Prinz, Philipp Menschner, Matthias Altmann, Jan Marco Leimeister: inSERT – an NFC-based Self Reporting Questionnaire for Patients with impaired fine motor skills, Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Near Field Communication (NFC'2011), Feb. 2011

[3] Michael Gebhart, Roland Neubauer: Design of 13.56 MHz Smartcard stickers with ferrite for payment and authentication, Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Near Field Communication (NFC'2011), Feb. 2011

[4] Michael Roland, Josef Langer, Josef Scharinger: Security Vulnerabilities of the NDEF Signature Record Type, Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Near Field Communication (NFC'2011), Feb. 2011

[5]Martin Gossar, Michael Stark, Michael Gebhart, Wolfgang Pribyl, Peter Söser: Investigations to Achieve Very High Data Rates for Proximity Coupling Devices at 13.56 MHz and NFC Applications, Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Near Field Communication (NFC'2011), Feb. 2011

[6] Roel Verdult, Francois Kooman: Practical attacks on NFC enabled cell phones, Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Near Field Communication (NFC'2011), Feb. 2011