Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia Conference 2012 in Ulm

Enrico Rukzio did a fabulous job in organizing MUM2012  in Ulm this year. Together with the PC-Co chairs Kaisa Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila and Mark Billinghurst I could coordinate the collection of 389 reviews from 69 PC members for the 126 paper submissions we received from 359 authors out of 32 countries.
Dieter Schmalstieg opened the conference with his keynote Augmented Reality Technology for Smartphones. He nicely showed how this technology has evolved from expensive, bulky and immature platforms towards everyday AR in today's mobile phones. Ironically, though, all the AR systems of today (LayAR, Wikitude, Swisspeaks etc.) are simply based on compass and acceleration without taking any developments about visual and natural markers into account. Dieter showed some very impressive videos how AR experience can be improved significantly by stabilizing the digital overlays using markers extracted by image processing. Futhermore, he showed systems which could also recognize 'free space', e.g. blue sky, for placing digital overlays there instead of occluding important information from the real-world. Indeed fascinating was the presentation of the recording of a skate-board stunt which was recorded life, separated from the background and replayed and introduced as an AR layer in another setting over and over again.
While I was absolutely amazed about the technical achievements of AR research I'm still struggling with recognizing meaningful applications of this technologies. In the subsequent session Dieter mentioned replacing today's habit googeling for keywords on the mobile by instant web searches based on context and situations the users is in and pointing to: AR could replace the text-field of Google search...

I believe AR is a fascinating research area and also a great tool. Combining the advancements of visual markers/sensors/localization should help to make AR a useful and intuitive experience for accessing digital services in mobile user contexts.
Throughout the three days there was interesting work presented on novel design, mobile interaction, social interaction, security, mobile augmented reality, tools, audio, field studies, and public displays (see program). As part of these sessions I was presenting our work object circles which proposes to use the Google+ Circle concept for visualizing and managing data streams of smart items as an intuitive metaphor for everyday users. The underlying principle is to use the established interface of social media to also manage and interact with items and devices [1]. In addition to that, as part of the industry track, I presented our evaluation of the Dacuda scanmouse where could prove the more effective use of this device for everyday scanning tasks compared to multi-function printers, personal scanners, and mobile phone image taking [2]. Instead of a prototype I could actually show the working product which clearly showed to me the power of demonstrations. Let's see how many visitors will buy such a mouse;)
Finally, Flavius Kehr presented our field study on evaluating capturing of driving behavior via smart-phone vs. built-in fixed unit [3]. His statistical analysis showed that the fixed unit has more accuracy, however, the measurements of the phone are still significant to provide feedback to driver about his driving behaviour. Thus, Flavius could conclude with the clear finding that mobile devices are well suited to elicit driving behavior. This opens the space for many other players, e.g. insurance companies, to provide driving feedback in addition to the built-in systems of car manufacturers.

Nigel Davies provided the second keynote of the conference, he showed his passion about public displays as part of his involved into the PD-net project. He started off with the general benefits of giving a keynote: it allows you to present results without being bound to a strict scientific methodology. Despite the ubiquitous emergence of displays in public areas all these devices still suffer major short-comings: people feel disturbed by aggressive ads, the systems are passive and don't allow for interaction. There are much smarter ways of using these expensive installations: build toolkits to allow interactivity, implement context sensitive information, support audit-trails and hand-over for strolling users across several displays. Nigel also showed how ideas and concepts may quickly become obsolete: the idea of setting bluetooth-friendly usernames appears to be ridiculous today but seemed to be completely reasonable a few years ago [4].
As scenarios for more interactive displays he proposed emergency search for missing children, emergency announcements, behavior changes (e.g. collect vouchers by by-passing) and local marketing. Public displays should be open for users he concluded. Challenged by the question of why display providers would open up their systems Nigel responded with the proposal of radically re-thinking the concept of how displays are being used today: instead of catching eyballs based on impressions they would be more integrated into users needs. Nigel drew the analogy of Google embedding ads into search results rather than catching eyeballs on the front page. Whether the ad companies are already ready for this now is hard to say, Nigel admitted, but it would be worth trying.Public displays (sometimes also referred to as digital signage) is a growing field, a research community with its own conference has already been formed: The International Symposium on Pervasive Displays, 4-5 June, 2013 - Mountain View, California.

[1] Florian Michahelles, Philip Probst: Object Circles: Modeling physical objects as social relationships, Proceedings of the 10th ACM SIGMOBILE Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM'12), Ulm, Germany, December 2012 [PDF].
[2] Matthias Wyss, Alexander Ilic, Florian Michahelles: The scanner at your finger tips - analysis of the effectiveness of the scan mouse device, Proceedings of the 10th ACM SIGMOBILE Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM'12), Ulm, Germany, December 2012 [PDF].
[3] Driving Behavior Analysis with Smartphones: Insights from a Controlled Field Study, Johannes Paefgen, Flavius Kehr, Yudan Zhai, Florian Michahelles, Proceedings of the 10th ACM SIGMOBILE Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM'12), Ulm, Germany, December 2012 [PDF].
[4] Nigel Davies, Adrian Friday, Peter Newman, Sarah Rutlidge, and Oliver Storz. 2009. Using bluetooth device names to support interaction in smart environments. In Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Mobile systems, applications, and services (MobiSys '09). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 151-164.

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