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PhD Student Workshop Gothenburg 2011

Researchers and students visited the workshop on physical interaction with digital worlds

Why don't we simply throw information from one cell phone to the other one? Why don't we work on a common digital whiteboard although we are at different places on the globe? What would happen if we could use any surface as a display? These are some of the questions that were covered during the one-week workshop at the Campus Lindholmen, in which participants from industry and academia took part.

It sound a little like science fiction, but it is already reality for the participants of the workshops, although there is a high potential for research and development. The workshop dealt with different aspects of interaction between physical and digital worlds, like e.g. augmented reality, multi-modal user interfaces, handheld computers, or tabletop interaction.

The workshop was organized by Morten Fjeld, who was supported by Alex Olwal (MIT, USA), Andreas Kunz (ETHZ, Switzerland), Masanori Sugimoto (Tokyo University, Japan), and Sriram Subramanian (University of Bristol, United Kingdom).

Established Collaboration

The international collaboration is based on established contacts within the "Alliance of Global Sustainability" between Chalmers, MIT, ETHZ, and the University of Tokyo. Although this topic was not discussed during the one-week workshop, it demonstrated that the collaboration among the researchers is working in practice.

Following Morten Fjeld, there is already a long-term collaboration between Chalmers and ETHZ on the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) and on tabletop interaction. As Andreas Kunz emphasized, this collaboration covers multiple research projects as well as the exchange of PhD students and Master students. Moreover, new research projects are under preparation.

Exchange of experiences, motivations, and feedback

The goal of the workshop was the give the chance that master students as well as PhD students could meet well-known researchers from other universities, in order to get new input on their research questions. The PhD students came from various departments from Chalmers, like for instance from architecture or applied IT. However, also PhD students from the university of Bergen were present, as well as from other universities. Within the one-week workshop, they all took part in presentations, team work, and discussions. The program contained actual research topics, communication as well as career opportunities.

Public lectures in the field of visualization

Some of the workshop's lectures were open to the public, like e.g. the one of Andreas Kunz. His lecture focused on virtual collaborative environments, in which the participants are at different places in the world, but still interact on the same common workspace. Andreas Kunz mentioned that it is crucial that multiple human perception channels need to be addressed. Otherwise, information in posture, gesture, or facial expression would get lost. Visualization could help to understand things faster, but interaction could help to have an even more intuitive access.

Another public lecture was given by Masanori Sugimoto. The topic was embossed by the special relationship of Japanese to their cell phones. During his talk, he showed that it is possible to throw information from one device to another one, but also to a printer. Further, he gave an outlook to the possibilities that would exist if the cell phone could project information to any surface in the environment.


Live demo: “Tangible Tabletop for Emergency Response Management”

Link to the original Swedish article from Chalmers University


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