Wednesday, June 26, 2013

IoT has arrived in industry

Eight years from now I started with the Auto-ID Labs at ETH Zurich. Our mission statement has been "architecting the Internet of Things". The underlying principle was to build physical presences of physical objects, i.e. digital counterparts that would be linked to physical things through RFID, barcodes, or any other kinds of identifiers [1].
For specifying the architecture we investigated the application using RFID against anti-counterfeiting. We developed various mechanisms to verify the authenticity of a product based on its identifier, history of trace and physical fingerprints [2]. Simultaneously, we recognized the tremendous potential of not only linking supply-chain partners to the Internet of Things but to also develop new channels to consumers and to also captcollect crowd-sourced data from them [3]. While NFC technology has been not ready for this for a while we started with mobile barcode reader software first [4].
In addition to the Auto-ID Labs' research agenda of how to make things, products and objects part of the Internet, other communities, such as Web-of-Things researchers, have started exploring how to reuse existing web-standards, e.g. REST, or to expand to new standards, e.g. CoaP, in order to let addressing and communications with the Internet reaching out to more resource-constrained devices and sensors [5].
Meanwhile, governments (e.g. Germany and China) and industry have recognized the Internet of Things as a new paradigm for upgrading their sectors and products from mere physical objects to networked items coupled with services. Several terminologies, such as Industrial Internet [6], Internet of Things and Services, Social web of things, Internet of everything [7], describe attempts of occupying space in the emerging Internet of Things through proprietary and still mainly closed developments.
The success of the Internet was mainly based on the absence of interest of industrial partners in the early days, such that a few academics could set out the communication principles of TCP/IP which was designed to be open and flexible on future developments on the top in terms of new applications and from the bottom regarding new communication technologies and protocols.
The development of the Internet of Things, instead, is challenged various powerful players who aim at building their own platforms separat from others. Here, I believe in the evolution of developments as we could observe from the MNO's: today, all walled gardens have disappeared and mobile users can access the Internet regardless of their provider.
The power of the Internet of Things lies in the integration of information and sensor data of various sources, the re-use of the same sensor data for various applications, and the creativity of 3rd party developers as the app-store models have proven successful.
The Internet of Things has arrived in industry, I'm very excited about how the various players will manage their transformation from platform owner, hardware developers with long development cycles, and contracted partner networks to agile software developers that release beta-products and stay in a continuous dialogue with their customers.

At this point I'm very happy to hand-over the lead of the Auto-ID labs to Alexander Ilic. Alexander has a strong background in retail applications, investigating offerings of new services to retail clients via digital receipts (see cosibon). Simultaneously, I'm very happy for the opportunity to drive forward the development  of the Internet of Things in industry!

[1] D. Uckelmann, M. Harrison, & F. Michahelles(Eds.), Architecting the Internet of Things. Berlin, Germany: Springer. ISBN 978-3-642-19156-5
[2] Lehtonen, M.; Michahelles, F.; Fleisch, E. : Trust and Security in RFID-based Product Authentication Systems. IEEE Systems Journal, Special Issue on RFID Technology: Opportunities and Challenges, First Quarter of 2008.
[3] S. Karpischek, F. Michahelles, E. Fleisch, my2cents – enabling research on consumer-product interaction, to appear in Special Issue on "Smartphone Applications and Services for Pervasive Computing", Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing - Springer, 2011, ISSN 1617-490,Doi: 10.1007/s00779-011-0426.
[4] F. von Reischach, S. Karpischek, R. Adelmann, F. Michahelles: Evaluation of 1D barcode scanning on mobile phones, Internet of Things 2010 Conference (IoT2010), Tokyo, Japan, November - December 2010

[5] Vlad Trifa, Dominique Guinard, Simon Mayer: Leveraging the Web for a Distributed Location-aware Infrastructure for the Real World.In: Erik Wilde, Cesare Pautasso (Eds.): REST: From Research to Practice. Springer, ISBN 978-1-4419-8302-2, pp. 381-400, New York, 2011
Peter C. Evans, Marco Annunziata: Industrial Internet, GE, Nov 26, 2012. [pdf]
[7] Dave Evans: The Internet of Everything, Whitepaper, Cisco, 2012.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2nd CfP: Workshop on Pervasive Technologies in Retail Environments at UbiComp 2013

PeTRE - Workshop on Pervasive Technologies in Retail Environments

organized by
Markus Löchtefeld, Petteri Nurmi,Florian Michahelles, Carsten Magerkurth, Patrik Floréen and Antonio Krüger
Zürich, Switzerland, September 8th, 2013



The workshop on Pervasive Technologies in Retail Environments (PeTRE) is the continuation of MIRE 2011 ( held at MobileHCI 2011) and provides an established forum for researchers from academy and industry exploring how pervasive technologies can be embedded into retail environments to create new shopping experiences and services. The goals of the workshop are to
  • discuss the integration of pervasive technologies into retailing;
  • construct a roadmap for future integration of pervasive technologies in retailing
  • strengthen and extend the community of this rapidly developing field.
We invite both case studies discussing real-world deployments as well as original research contributions in one of the following topic areas:
  • mobile applications for retail contexts,
  • location sensing and customer flow analysis
  • pervasive public displays
  • personalization and user/customer modeling for the retail domain
  • human product interaction
  • infrastructure standards
  • integration and interaction with robots and drones
  • infrastructure combining eCommerce with brick and mortar stores
  • social media in the retail context,
  • business models and social impact.


Workshop format and submissions

The workshop on Pervasive Technologies in Retail Environments (PeTRE) is a full-day workshop with an extended thematic scope and aims to bring together researchers and practitioners from academia and industry with multidisciplinary insights being explicitly encouraged. We ask for papers (two-pages position-statement-paper or four-pages research-paper) 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.
We highly encourage bringing a demonstration of your prototype if available and presenting it at the Workshop!
Papers should be formatted according to the Ubicomp 2013 Workshop Format. ( please remove the copyright notice). Papers should be submitted using the electronic submission system available on the website ( At least one author of an accepted paper is required to register for the workshop.
Each paper will be reviewed by at least two members of an international program committee. All accepted papers will be made available online on the workshop website as well as in the ACM Digital Library.


Important dates

May 20, 2013:          Submission Deadline
June 3, 2013:          Author Notification
June 20, 2013:         Submission of camera-ready version
September 8, 2013:     Workshop in Zurich, Switzerland


Website and more information
If you have any additional questions please contact us via email:



Markus Löchtefeld, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Germany
Petteri Nurmi, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT), Finland
Florian Michahelles, Auto-ID Labs, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Carsten Magerkurth, SAP (Switzerland) AG, Switzerland
Patrik Floréen, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT), Finland
Antonio Krüger, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Germany

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Streetspotr - the mechanical turk in the wild

As part of my lecture Businees Aspects of the Internet of Things I could welcome Werner Hoier and Dorothea Utzt from as guest lecturers (slides).
They shared some interesting insights about their start-up which implements the idea of match-making between location-based micro-task issuing and fullfilling (as described earlier by [1]). Having reached out to 180k users who are only waiting for earning some fractions of a EURO by solving tasks like "take a picture of the menu in restaurant", "collect the GPS location of a parking lot", or "check the availability of an ATM". Without marketing but mostly relying on public media and blogs who featured their story they could build up their user base.
Interesting enough they are no longer looking for more users but rather for more job issuers. Also, so far they refrained from allowing to share user-to-user services. Their service nicely extends traditional services of market survey agencies. They reported about their most successful user who already earned a 600 EUR on their platform.

I'm really curious how this micro-task business evolves. I could well see opportunities for people waiting or being stuck somewhere and either earn money or giving something back by solving small little tasks in their downtime. Furthermore, finding a proper alignment between situation of the user and available tasks and corresponding rewards should be key to success, see also [2].

[1] Florian Alt, Alireza Sahami Shirazi, Albrecht Schmidt, Urs Kramer, and Zahid Nawaz. 2010. Location-based crowdsourcing: extending crowdsourcing to the real world. In Proceedings of the 6th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Extending Boundaries (NordiCHI '10). link
[2] Navkar Samdaria, Akhil Mathur, and Ravin Balakrishnan. 2012. Paying in kind for crowdsourced work in developing regions. In Proceedings of the 10th international conference on Pervasive Computing (Pervasive'12), Judy Kay, Paul Lukowicz, Hideyuki Tokuda, Patrick Olivier, and Antonio Krüger (Eds.). link

Thad Starner - the personalized Augmented Human

I was lucky to visit the closing keynote of Thad Starner at the 3rd Augmented Human Conference held in Stuttgart in March 2013.

As part of Thad's talks he pulled out his favorite 2-second rule which says: the longer accessing a device exceeds 2s, the more its actually usage would decrease exponentially. Thus, he made a claim that wrist watch interface always sitting on one's wrist ready to use should be more successful than mobile phones which have to pulled out of the pocket. He showed a compelling example of implementing a pie-chart interface using the 12 positions of an analog watch to "dial into apps" [1]. 

Then he showed the promo video on google glasses, which uses voice control to record video and display related information.
He ended his talk with teaching muscle memory applied to the example of how to learn to play piano (well, or at least to play some one-handed melodies;). Finally, he showed some working examples of brain-computer interfaces which generally perform very slow in allowing users to convey control information at only about 1bit per second. However, he could show how to pick up American sign language gestures from reactions of the motor cortex. His final vision would be to allow patients without movements to communicate with their environment.

Overall, I was intrigued by Thad's lecture style: instead of selling his research he puts himself into the position of a critical spectator of his own research who gets excited and convinced by his own results. Indeed, a smart way of presenting.

[1] Daniel Ashbrook, Kent Lyons, and Thad Starner. 2008. An investigation into round touchscreen wristwatch interaction. In Proceedings of the 10th international conference on Human computer interaction with mobile devices and services (MobileHCI '08).

A short report about NFC 2013

As program chairs Josef Langer and Tuomo Tuika opened the Fifth International Workshop on Near-field Communication (NFC2013) in Zurich on February 5, 2013. I as the general chair introduced briefly about the previous hype on NFC and it's current loss against national football conference on google trends.
The goal of the workshop was to bring together experts on RF and smartcards technology, security, NFC-related applications,
services and business processes. We received 22 research paper submissions around these topics. A rigorous review
process was followed with each paper receiving three reviews from international experts of the program committee. Based
upon this process, thirteen full papers were selected to appear in these proceedings and to be presented at the workshop. This
resulted in an acceptance rate of 59% for 2013.
The papers covered a range of topics related to NFC payment and ticketing, security, retail applications, and NFC communication. 

Marcello Morean started off with a secure solution for mobile ticketing.
Christian Saminger presented a solution of ticketing using the inverse reader mode where the  phone acts as reader/write device whereas terminal emulates the nfc ticketing card. This approach works on any nfc without requiring a secure element.
Next, Gerald Madlmayr talked about the nfc payment ecosystem.
Michael Roland presented on hacking and fixing relay attacks against the google wallet. Ali Alshehri explained how to analyse coupon protocols using the CASPER/FDR framework.

Marcello Morena stepped in for his colleagues and reported about user-centered design process of developing an NFC museum app.
Mark Lochrie showed how to use NFC/checkins to curate music preferences. By reusing library cards the music could be controlled.

Gregor Broll reported about on-going work of displaying sugar saturation in products using multimodal feedback. Maali Alabdulhafith reported about how to use NFC to check for drug allergies and notify doctors and pharmacists accordingly. The system relies on the hospital's database entries but may trigger some false alarms if the DB is not properly curated.

All papers are available in the online proceedings as part of the IEEE Xplore libary.

Overall, it was an exciting workshop. It remains to be seen whether 2013 will be the year of NFC, after all the previous years have been suspects of this event already;)

IEEE Consumer Communications & Networking Conference - General Call for Workshops

IEEE Consumer Communications & Networking Conference (CCNC)                  
 (Held in conjunction with the International ConsumerElectronics Show,       
 Las Vegas, January 11-14, 2014)                                             

 General Call for Workshops                                                                                            


IEEE Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC), sponsored by the IEEE Communications Society, is a major annual international conference. Taking advantage of its co-location with the International CES (the world's largest tradeshow on consumer technology), CCNC is organized with the objective of bringing together researchers, developers, and practitioners from academia and industry working in all areas of consumer technologies. CCNC 2014 will feature high quality keynotes, plenary talks, panels, and tutorials.

The CCNC 2014 Organization Committee invites members of the research, development, and practitioner communities to submit workshop proposals.
Workshops provide a forum for people to discuss areas of special interest pertinent to consumer communications and networking with like-minded researchers and practitioners. Workshops aim at examining an area in a less formal, more open environment for the free exchange of views, and possibly in a more focused way than in the main track of the conference itself.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • Communications and Signal processing for modern mobile devices.
  • Social Networking, CrowdSourcing and Participatory Sensing
  • Wearable Augmented Reality
  • Peer-to-Peer and Cloud-based Networking
  • Multimedia Networking, Services, & Applications
  • Smart Spaces & Sensor Networks
  • 3D printing
  • Personal Robotics
  • Security, Content Protection & DRM
  • Vehicular Networks
  • Green Communications & Computation
  • eHealth, Ambient Assisted Living
  • Home Energy Management
  • Telepresence & Telerobotics
  • Intelligent & Emotion-oriented Computing
  • 3D Imaging, Processing, Communications & Display
  • Innovative Multimedia Systems & Consumer Electronics
  • Information Integration & Data Analytics
  • Case studies of application deployments
  • Emerging Standardization Topics in Consumer Communications.

CCNC workshops will be organized on the first and last day of the conference (Jan 11 and Jan 14).

Proposal Format

The workshop organizers should submit a workshop proposal by May 31st 2013.
Each Workshop proposal should include:

  1. Name of workshop and proposed URL of site to host CFP, program etc.
  2. Theme of the workshop and topics of interest and how these related to the overall conference
  3. Names, affiliations,  and a short bio (up to 200 words) of the organizers
  4. Brief description (up to 1 page) of research, industry, and practitioners' topics of interest that the workshop will address
  5. Reasons why the workshop is of interest to the conference participants
  6. Audience: expected number of participants, potential program committee members
  7. Description of the publicity plan: how to attract participants and submissions
  8. Planned format: participant selection, time line, type of contributions, discussions and integration of non-presenting participants.
    •  Full-day workshops should aim for 8-9 accepted papers or invited technical talks. Half-day workshops should aim for 4-5 accepted papers or invited technical talks. Indicate the maximum length of the papers to be submitted.
    • If the workshop will include invited technical talks (i.e. presentation of a non-peer-reviewed paper ), the proposal should include a subset of invited speakers who are willing to attend and participate if the workshop is accepted.
  9.  If applicable, a description of past editions of the workshop, including: number of submitted and accepted papers, and number of attendees.
  10. A draft workshop call for papers with:
    • The names, affiliations, addresses, phone numbers and email
    • addresses of the workshop organizers, who should be experts in the related topics and preferably from multiple organizations.

All proposals and questions should be submitted to the workshop chair:
Florian Michahelles, ETH Zurich,, subject: CCNC14 workshop.

Conference registration fees will not be waived for speakers at accepted workshops. The organizers of the accepted workshops will be responsible for paper reviewing and the workshop programs.

Workshop Proposals Due:  May 31, 2013
Acceptance Notification:    June 15, 2013
Florian Michahelles,
CCNC 2014 Workshops Chair

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The German perspective of IoT: Industrie 4.0

Last year in June I had the opportunity to join a workshop on the impact of Internet of Things (IoT) for the German industry.
The consensus was that Germany missed the developed of an app-industry and hard-ware development. Instead, Germany should rather focus on proprietary platforms, appstores, for machines, cars and smart home: app-stores for things. A new job profile, the IoT-mechanic, is emerging.

The overall goal of  IoT is to improve quality of life, sustainability and growth (hm...isn't growth the opposite of sustainability!?). IoT bears the danger of forgetting the human yielding a rigid and process-oriented life focusing on the beauty, bold and technophiles.

Instead, developments should be driven by industry focusing on health, energy efficiency and standardization. Research questions could be:
  • how to integrate the diverse and isolated initiatives of IoT into one coherent platform?
  • IP doesn't work for everything, iterative processes based on specific examples should help to develop alternatives.
  • who owns the platform?
  • vertical platforms should be developed to solve societal challenges: production, plant manufacturing, and machine development
  • horizontal integration to reusing technology
    • interoperability
    • discovery/self-organisation
    • open platforms for third parties, SME's
    • reference architecture for niches
Involved parties should be telco providers, device manufacturers, service providers and end-users.
Overall, platforms should help SME's to develop new services and create business and jobs. Open-source should allow communities to develop new services. The german government should provide the legal framework to include various stakeholders, protect their investment, yield services for the good.
I'm looking forward to the results of Industrie 4.0.