Mar 2009 Holiday! What holiday?

March 15 - 21st was a week of CAPSIL events in the USA which I've blogged about previously. The week after was intended as a family holiday week. However due to various deadlines and upcoming events I had to slot in some work tasks along the way. Looking back at what I did this week made me realise I accomplished more "work" tasks during my holidays than most people do in a good work week. Normally I try to disconnect but I think this blend of holiday activity and work (during travel times) worked out quite well. Sweden is a big place so there were lots of opportunities while travelling from A to B.

Ice Hotel

The first part of the week was spent in Kiruna mainly at the Ice Hotel. We got to go hiking, dog sledding, sleeping in our Ice Room and drinking in the Ice Bar along with other activities. Some of these pics are below.


During the week I worked on the final versions of my contributions to an EU FP7 grant submission. Along with colleagues in 8 European countries we are submitting a request for a new support action. Some late evenings were required and work on trains and flights but the new workpackages look very strong.

COST action

In parallel to the FP7 submission I also submitted a pre-proposal to the COST framework. Following a number of past events and special journal issues a set of academics around Europe and the world came to the realise we need the support a COST action can offer to help develop the field of multi-device surface user interfaces. A Surface User Interface is a class of user interface that relies on a self illuminated (e.g. LCD, PDA or iPhone) or projected horizontal, vertical or spherical interactive surface (e.g. a touch-screen or video wall) tied with the control of computation in the same physical surface. New applications with interfaces that transcend one device onto a class of other devices (i.e. multi-device surface user interfaces) are now emerging. When one considers applications that support multi-device, multi-touch or multi-hand (e.g. an iPhone working with a Microsoft Surface or a PDA working with a public touch-screen) then the underlying interface assumptions break down. There are real problems in terms of knowledge of suitable design, seamless operation, coupling, gesture interaction, middleware, interaction design, usability study and evaluation. Sharing and documenting knowledge for all around these problems is the central goal of our very timely proposal. Take for example Ann Morrison in HITT who has been involved in the FP6 Integrated project on Interaction and Presence in Urban Environments called IPCity. Last year she presented some of their group work at PPD08 in Naples and with a support like this COST action we can have student and researcher exchange to work with their very novel systems and setup in Helsinki. This is but one example of the many projects ongoing in this space.

Spring Summit Umeå Institute of Design

Later in the week, thanks to a tweet from an Interaction Designer I hired for TRIL on the Umeå Institute of Design I discovered they were having a conference called "Sensing And Sensuality" the day I was in town. This spring summit 2009 was held on Friday March 27, 2009 at 10:00 and was hosted by the Umeå Institute of Design & Tellart. Sadly I couldn't attend the entire day but I got to hear some very interesting presentations from speakers including, Mikael Wiberg on “Interaction & Textures”, Matt Cottam from Tellart & Rhode Island School of Design and Lennart Andersson on “Industrial Design meets Interaction Design”. There were many pragmatic design solutions presented along with a number of artistic endeavours. Having just come from the Ice Hotel in Kiruna I wasn't convinced by Mikael Wiberg's talk on their work with the Ice Bar in Copenhagen "Purity with a twist". The idea is interesting but blending low-res led displays with the amazing ice cut from the Torne river struck me as Neanderthal Man making "art" on cave walls with stone. It's art but this attempt to blend the digital and the physical is sadly misguided. There was also too much focus on the invisibility of pervasive systems. As a community I think we have come to realise we need "invisibility in action" not literal invisibility to progress our user interfaces. Other talks on interaction design and industrial design struck a better cord with me.

Research Assistant

[ Academic Jobs EU advert ]

My advert for a new research assistant also required my attention during this week and went live towards the end of the week.
I am looking for a Research Assistant for a 20 month period to work on 'Tabletop, Mobile and Interactive Surfaces". This is a funded research project and based in UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics working with me based in the Complex and Adaptive Systems Laboratory.
This project forms the first part of a phased program of research exploring the role of tabletop computing along with coupled public and private displays in rehabilitation, gaming and computer supported corporative work. The research assistant is expected to explore questions posed by the project lead and other team members. A large component of this post will be the development of research prototypes, using off the shelf development toolkits along with contributing to our open source developments in this area. Strong programming skills along with the ability to work with software and hardware co-design. The research assistant is further expected to support and maintain the tabletop physical hardware systems in place within the CASL along with developing new forms of system is called upon in the course of this research.

LoCA 2009

Over the past two weeks I've been working with Springer Verlag on getting the final copy correct for the proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Location and Context Awareness (LoCA) which will be held on May 7–8, 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. Location and context awareness are fundaments to next-generation mobile and pervasive computing systems. Pervasive computing is a model of computing in which computation is everywhere and computer functions are integrated into everything. The ultimate aim is to make information, applications and services available anywhere and at anytime in the human environment in a fluid manner appropriate to our current context. In addition to working on the final copy of the proceedings I announced our keynote Dr. Atsushi Shionozak's title and abstract on our website. The title of his keynote will be From PlaceEngine to Location Amplifier: Rolling Out Commercial Location Based Services.


So the lesson is I need to leave my laptop at home if I want to relax I suppose? However, given these deadlines and the fact I'm involved in collaborative research efforts this week required me online. The other way to look at this is I need to take more holidays to boost my productivity!

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