User-Centered Technology Design

Topics offered in past »User-Centered Technology Design« courses

Extreme Sports Helper

Choose an extreme or dangerous sport (parachuting, diving, free climbing, bungee jumping, etc.) Make a device or app that helps practitioners of that sport do something of importance to them. The device or app should be used *during* the dangerous activity itself. Document and defend your decisions affecting usability and safety. Use implicit or explicit interaction as appropriate.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Involve users in designing the form factor and functionality of the mobile application
  • Create a prototype of the mobile app
  • Evaluate your prototype by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Mixed Reality Game

We all know retro games such as tale tennis, space invaders or asteroids that have been block busters in the 80’s. For this project we want to bring players of such games back into the parks again and make the actual game on the screen more physical in public places. The displays of mobile phones will be the »window« into such a mixed-reality gaming world. While being in a public space, the players will see a ball, aliens, or asteroids through their mobile phone displays and hear appropriate sound. We aspire a two player mode that allows playing as a team or opponents in the case of the tele tennis game. The challenging part of this project will be a procedure to connect to players who want to play the game spontaneously and to transfer the feeling of the real game into the mobile phone context. An additional challenge lies in the clever combination of game playing options exploiting the possibilities of mobile phones in terms of GPS tracking, compass functionality and accelerometers.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Find out how the operation and haptics of one retro game can be mapped to mobile phones
  • Involve users in designing a set of game rules and game performance
  • Implement a prototype for two players and two mobile phones
  • Evaluate your system by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Waiting Queue Optimizer

People face queues at many public offices, doctors, hair salons, foreigner administration office, etc. Some of these situations give formal appointments at a given time, yet the person arriving at that time must still wait (e.g. doctor's). The goal of this project is to devise a system, or optimize existing systems, that keep the waiting time to a minimum. The system should help the user by saving them time, so that the user can to do other tasks or chores in the time that otherwise would be spent waiting. The system should drake care that the place in the queue, or the appointment, should not be missed.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups and situations where your system will be useful
  • Involve users in designing the form factor and functionality of the system
  • Create increasingly more refined prototypes
  • Evaluate your prototype by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Care

As the population grows older, more and more people need some help in taking care of themselves, without necessarily needing to move to a care home. They can live relatively independently, move about the house easily, yet be overwhelmed when going to a hairdresser's, shopping, or doing other activities. The goal of this project is to devise a system, device, or way to bring together these people with others who can provide these services. Keep in mind the challenges specific to old people, and design something that they will be happy to use!

Expected Project Outcome

  • • Determine the right end-user groups and situations where your system will be useful
  • Involve users in designing the form factor and functionality of the system
  • Create increasingly more refined prototypes
  • Evaluate your prototype by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Will and Testament of the Digital Self

As more of ourselves is expressed online, and more of our information is kept in »digital silos« out of our control (forums, social networks, iTunes, etc.), the question of what happens to that information after the owner's death becomes relevant. The challenges are ethical (shall the Facebook drunken pictures be left online?), economic (who gets your iTunes bought songs?), psychological/human (how do we think and prepare for our own death?), etc.

Your task is to come up with a solution where people can specify what happens to this information, and the system then carries out the user's wish when time comes.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups and the right approach for each of them
  • Involve users in designing the form factor and functionality of the system
  • Create increasingly more refined prototypes
  • Evaluate your prototype by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Physical and Digital Souvenir Cabinet

Travellers often take souvenirs from the places they've been to. These souvenirs can be physical, or digital (photos, places, coordinates of a significant moment or place). There is also a limit to how many things people can keep and display at home, due to lack of physical space. Your task is to come up with a solution that seamlessly combines physical and digital souvenirs in a "souvenir cabinet" and enables people to keep both kinds, and to relate them to each other. (E.g. a piece of rock from a waterfall is related to the pictures, coordinates, and sound recording of the waterfall). The relation should not simply be in the computer's memory, but meaningful interactions with that information should be possible (e.g. user taking the stone from the waterfall makes the water sound play through the speakers).

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups for your system
  • Involve users in designing the form factor and functionality of the system
  • Create increasingly more refined prototypes
  • Evaluate your prototype by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Virtual Graffiti

This mobile application places virtually painted Graffiti on real walls at several different locations of a town. The App on your mobile phone gives you various activities and effects that you can perform with a Graffiti painting once you found it in a certain place. These activities let this Graffiti grow and people can contribute to its shape. Accordant activities need to be available for changing and enhancing the Graffiti giving it your personal note. However, these activities can only be conducted at the very place where you find the respective Graffiti. Also, finding a Graffiti needs to be easy, since you can only see the Graffiti through the display of your mobile phone. An accompanying webpage displays a map showing the user the location of all Graffitis. A corresponding Facebook app is also possible.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Involve users in designing a set of interactions and the camera-based search process
  • Implement a prototype running on the iPhone or Android phone
  • A user is able to create a new and change existing Graffitis with their mobile phones
  • Evaluate your system by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Design and realize a website showing a map with existing Graffitis
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Mixed Reality Kinect Game

Currently, games cause sensation with two features: First, the virtual game world is merged into reality. Fraunhofer FIT, for example, developed the mixed reality game "TimeWarp", where players explore the history of Cologne with a handheld device. Second, there are several new ways of controlling the game. Nintendo started using motions with their Wii and with Microsoft’s Kinect the player can now control games with full body movements. We would like to combine these two concepts into one game. By using a projector, the virtual game world can be brought into the real world. The Kinect system is accessible via computer. This offers the opportunity to control the virtual projected game world by movement. Xbox Kinect and other hardware are provided by us.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Identify motion controller systems such as Wii, Kinect, etc. with their strengths and weaknesses
  • Develop the idea for an application which combines the advantages
  • Involve users in designing a set of interactions and the camera-based search process
  • Implement and improve a mixed-reality game prototype using the Kinect as a main controller together with other controllers
  • Evaluate your system by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Energy-Saving Game for Children

Children need to be aware of energy usage and trained early on how to behave energy-aware. The aim of this project is to invent a game for children teaching them energy-aware behavior right at their school. Since kids love pets and the caring for pets cheers them up, the project idea would be to represent the rooms of their school as pets and change the behavior of these pets according to the current measurements of the energy sensors in the rooms. If the kids change the properties of the rooms (close window if heating is on) targeting at energy efficiency, the accordant pet feels healthy and has fun. If not, the opposite will happen over time. The result of the project will be an application running in a laptop displaying the pets on a large screen. A mobile application will also show only one pet based on in what room they are in and allow them to receive immediate feedback on what they changed in a room. For this project, we will provide you with an API to access sensor data taken from 6 offices at Fraunhofer FIT.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Find out how children can understand energy-usage easily and seamlessly
  • Involve users in designing a set of game rules and game performance (e.g. caring for virtual pets)
  • Implement a prototype of the game
  • Evaluate your system by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Augmented Gift

Usually we add a personal note to a present we give away to a friend. How about adding a personal virtual note to a present? This personal note will only be visible to the presentee using the screen of her mobile phone. The presenter needs to be provided with a very easy way to add the personal virtual note to any arbitrary present she buys in a shop. The presenter also needs to make sure that this note is only visible to the right person, e.g. through using the mobile phone number. Also, the note could be text, picture, or audio.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Investigate how arbitrary things can be easily identified by a mobile phone
  • Involve users in the design of a easy-to-use mobile application
  • Implement a prototype of the mobile app and real world extensions
  • Evaluate your system by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Mobile Phone Drinking Game

The game should be quite simple and enjoyable to play spontaneously, e.g. when a group of people is on a train ride or in a bar. The players sit together in a location and place their mobile phones in front of each other. The mobile phones connect with each other and the host can start the game. Here is an example for a possible game: One after the other, the mobile phones show different images or colors. If one defined image or color appears in the screen of one mobile phone, the owner needs to hit this screen as fast as possible. If the owner hits the screen within a certain time period, the game goes on. If she doesn’t, she loses one point. If a player hits the screen without the defined image or color has appeared, she also loses a point. The first player to lose 3 points must pay for the next round of drinks. Fraunhofer FIT can provide you with a library for Android that facilitates the connecting of mobile phones based on Wifi.

Expected Project Outcome

  • • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Involve users in designing a set of game rules and game performance
  • Implement a prototype of the mobile app for at least three players
  • Evaluate your system by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Sensor »Bombs«

First responders need to intervene in environments with many dangers. They often have no information about such environments, putting their lives in danger. If they could sense from far the ambient parameters of a certain place, they would avoid going into dangerous areas. Your task is to develop a "sensor bomb", a bundle of sensors that can be thrown into a room or other damaged building in a disaster area, and that gives back information on air quality, temperature, tremors, and/or other parameters. The information should be visualized on a portable device (not necessarily mobile phone, could be an arduino-controlled LCD). Keep in mind that firefighters already carry 30 kg equipment, they have gloves, helmets and visors. All of this puts restrictive requirements on your sensor bomb, its deployment, and the mobile display device.
Fraunhofer FIT can provide you with Arduino and all other necessary hardware.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Involve users in designing the form factor of the sensor bomb.
  • Create a prototype of a sensor bomb
  • Evaluate your prototype by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

»Dead man's switch« for kitchens

»Dead man's switch« for kitchens is a meant to be a Warning system for people who have forgotten the oven/hotplate on. It happens to all of us to forget the hotplate on, sometimes without anything on it. This can cause a fire. Your task is to augment old hotplates/ovens etc. to sense this dangerous situation and either cut off power or alert the user. You need to play with sensors and arduino/RPi to find out what to sense (light? infrared radiation? current? presence of people?). You also need to investigate how to notify users and how to trade-off security and safety if your device fails? Eliminate as many failure cases as possible.

This is an example of implicit interaction. We don't want to give users another knob to push on. Think carefully about form factors and deployment. Fraunhofer FIT can provide you with Arduino and all other necessary hardware.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Involve users in designing the form factor and functionality of the switch
  • Create a prototype of the system
  • Evaluate your prototype by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results

Extreme Sports App

Choose an extreme or dangerous sport (parachuting, diving, freeclimbing, bungee jumping, etc.) Make a device or app that helps practitioners of that sport do something of importance to them. The device or app should be used *during* the dangerous activity itself. Document and defend your decisions affecting usability and safety. Use implicit or explicit interaction as appropriate. If you choose to support diving, I will help and test your work myself during my own diving.

Expected Project Outcome

  • Determine the right end-user groups
  • Involve users in designing the form factor and functionality of the mobile application
  • Create a prototype of the mobile app
  •  Evaluate your prototype by capturing the user experiences and feedback
  • Document scenarios, requirements, system specification and evaluation results