If you are a Lancaster student or intern and would like to work on one of the following projects or theses please write me an email:

Smartwatches are increasingly used by people to interact with their data, for tracking physical activity or for health applications. Current smartwatch hardware and software, however, are primarily build on assumptions from tablets, phones and even desktop-based systems. This project will design and build the next generation smartwatch by combining depth sensors, proximity sensors or eye trackers to support mid-air gestures and other advanced interactions.  The focus is on exploring new hardware and software configurations for smartwatch-like devices.
Skills: Arduino, PCB design, embedded programming, gesture recoognition

“Watch-Centric Techniques”
Smartwatches are a new class of devices that provide fairly little applications, functionality and interactions at its own but is rather to be used as a secondary device that is combined with a smartphone or tablet. Current combinations of smartwatches and tablets provide some form of distribute interaction but these are fairly limited. This project will explore this space and design cross-device interaction techniques and applications to explore a number of novel techniques and example applications that explore how watches can be integrated into multi-device information management.
Skills: Distributed computing and interface design, gestures recognition (machine learning),  Android

“Watch of Things”
The world is increasingly becoming smarter as technology and computers are embedded into every day objects, architecture and even cities. However, for users it is not alway clear how they can interact with these smart objects. Smartwatches are an interesting new form factor that can allow users to discover smart services around them and interact directly with smart objects in their houses and in the city. This project will explore how a smartwatch can be used to interact with Internet Of Things devices. The focus of this project is designing an architecture that allows for web-based services content delivery based on the location, interest and experience of the user. As starting point, we will prototype a smartwatch using a Raspberry Pi + external screen to speed up the development process and allow for rapid prototyping (similar to http://www.stevenhouben.be/portfolio/watchconnect/)
Skills: Raspberry Pi, Node Webkit, Sensor processing, Web languages (html5, javascript,…)

Information visualization has traditionally focused on delivering data in the form of 2d graphs, infographics and visualizations. Studies, however, show that these visualizations are not always clear and understandable for end-users that are novices. This implies that a large section of the population is excluded from interacting with and understanding the increasing amount of data that is being collected. 3D visualizations have the potential to physically embody data sets and allow novice users to physically interact with data and their representations. This project will focus on designing and building a toolkit for building physical visualizations. The focus of this project is in building a bridge between data sources, 3d fabrications methods (such as 3d printing or laser cutting) and physical actuating (Arduino motors etc).
Skills: Arduino, SparkCore, 3d printing, laser cutting, rapid prototyping, big data, web technology (html5 and javascript)

“Device Ecology”
Users are increasingly using multiple devices at the same data to interact with their information. However, current systems and applications are still designed as isolated entities that are agnostic of other devices in the area. This project will explore cross-devices interaction techniques that allow for easy annexation of different heterogeneous devices (phones, tablets, large screens,…) to support fluid interaction techniques to share screen space and device capabilities. This project can use existing technology (see huddlelamp.org), or design a tracking mechanism from scratch.
Skills: UI Design, Web languages (html5, meteor and javascript), c#, computer vision, experiences with depth cameras is a plus

 “Dynamic Tangibles”
Interactive surfaces (large multitouch tables or wall displays) are slowly being introduced both in research and industry as they allow users to interact with information in a more natural way. In addition, interactive surfaces can be used in combination with tangible user interfaces (TUIs), allowing users to use physical objects to interact with digital information, thereby extending the user experience into the real world. This project will design dynamic tangible interfaces for interactive camera-based surfaces, using light patterns to establish the interaction between tangibles and the tabletop. The focus of this project is to build a toolkit and demonstrate its functionality through a number of example applications.
Skills:  Computer vision, WPF c#/c++,  Arduino prototyping, experience with laser cutting and 3d printing of prototypes is a plus 

“Curiosity Objects”
In recent years there has been a widespread installation of large interactive public displays. Longitudinal studies however show that these interactive displays suffer from interaction blindness, the inability of the public to recognize the interactive capabilities of those surfaces. This project will explore the use of curiosity-provoking artifacts, (curiosity objects) to overcome interaction blindness. The focus of this project is to build and deploy curiosity-provoking artifacts in order to elicit better public engagement in interactive installations. (http://www.stevenhouben.be/portfolio/curiosity-objects/)
Skills: Arduino prototyping, 3d printing, laser cutting, rapid prototyping, field studies, interaction design

Other projects and ideas
More generally, I can supervise any project or thesis on topics related to:

  1. interaction on/with/for large interactive surfaces and tabletops,
  2. cross-device interaction techniques and applications that focus on connecting multiple devices and multiple users,
  3. physical computing and device prototyping projects using Arduino, rapid prototyping mechanisms (3d printing, laser cutting,…),
  4. physical and interactive information visualization of big data sets,
  5. design and deployment of public installations to foster public engagement