Research on new interactive user interfaces at the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences
The University is conducting research on the next generation of technologies for controlling with gestures and physical objects
Since March, the Faculty of Communication and Environment has had a “Microsoft Surface 2” (SUR40), an interactive table that makes touch-sensing entry, as it is known from the latest smartphones or tablets, possible. By means of this device research is supposed to be conducted on which cognitive impacts and physiological hazards emerge from this user interface in order to develop new interaction technologies as user-friendly as possible.
Kleve/Emmerich/Kamp-Lintfort, April 04, 2012: Over the last years, the so-called multi-touch has been established, meaning the interaction with fingers on a touch-sensing screen while the mouse and keyboard are still used as the most common tools for controlling computers. Controlling of computers, smartphones, tablets and also machines will thus be fundamentally changed.
The aim of the Faculty of Communication and Environment at the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences is now to assess the potentials of this technological development and possible impacts on human exposure. Scenarios will be assessed and developed which transfer the exclusive possibilities of this new forms of interactions and technologies in a reasonable and sustainable way regarding the context of the application of users. From the point of view of usability in particular it is supposed to be explored how those technologies can be applied in practice. Hereby, the opportunity opens up to students of the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences to analyse those technologies and trends in real time and promote development in a focused way and in the interest of the user.
In doing so, the team led by Prof Dr Karsten Nebe resorts to a “Microsoft Surface 2”, one computer comparable to a tablet PC with a diagonal screen size of 76cm. The functionality is similar to this of a touchscreen, however, makes significantly more complex entries based on new technology called PixelSense™ possible. Thus almost as many fingers or hands as you like can be used for controlling, also objects – so-called tangibles – recognises the device. “Tangible Interaction” is the interaction with touchable and concrete objects which act as representatives for digital data. Simply by placing, rotating or scrolling of tangibles on the screen surface events such as, for example, scrolling of a digital map or display of certain data can be triggered in the system. For several users acting to some extent simultaneously the system becomes a tangible object by means of this touchable user interface.
Furthermore, in this regard, advanced interaction technologies such as, for example, motion analyis of the human body will be more closely examined as basis for controlling interactive systems (for example, by Microsoft Kinect™). Of great interest is here in particular the combination of different interaction forms in order to achieve the greatest practical use possible.
Such investments in new interaction technologies are especially vital for two courses of study at the Faculty of Communication and Environment. In the undergraduate programme in “Media Communication and Computer Science” it is essential to gain experiences with such technologies concerning its handling and usage and to apply those in student projects. The postgraduate programme in “Usability Engineering” aims in particular to analyse usability – not everything what is technologically feasible meets the expectations and needs of the user. For students of both programmes it is important to critically look at and to purposefully apply such things.
Caption: Prof Dr Karsten Nebe of the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences while operating the Microsoft Surface 2.
Photograph: Michael Bergmann