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Martin Tomitsch | Design Lab
Research-wise passionate about everything that is interactive. Especially excited about exploring unexplored grounds, challenging
the boundaries of currently existing and established interactive experiences. Important is that the emphasis is on „experiences“ and
not „technologies“, as potential technologies are already out there.
This interest led to the first stage of exploring the boundaries of desktop or window-based interfaces, which was the topic of my
Xerox Star (1981)
The desktop interface or metaphor as we use it today has been around for long.
The Task Gallery (Microsoft Research, 2000)
And there are many ways how the boundaries can be challenged, like looking at other metaphors like the Gallery metaphor.
Project Looking Glass (Sun, 2003)
Or making the desktop a 3-dimensional world. This seems to be exciting, but at the same time limited.
The first mouse (Douglas Engelbart, 1963)
[Source: Stanford Research Institute]
For example we use the same input device since more than 40 years. I therefore became interested in challenging the boundaries
of existing input devices after the completion of my Masters.
Looking at tangible ways of interacting with data. (4T project at DECO/INSO at the Vienna University of Technology)
Allowing users to control and interact with data in a more direct and natural way.
But going back to displays, we can see that displays meanwhile became ubiquitous. The technology is there. But the experience is
not very exciting. There is often no connection to the context.
The same is true for large-scale screens, like those at train stations. How could this technology be used to make the experience
more exciting, to maybe persuade people taking the train by improving the commuting experience.
The SmartSlab display at our Faculty is a great piece of technology for exploring such scenarios.
For example this piece of technology could be made invisible. What are the implications of that? Why and in which context might
that make sense?
The ceiling represents yet another area that is largely unexplored, and under-utilised. These are some example applications that I
developed as part of my PhD. For example one of them shows the short term weather forecast, another reflects the sound
distribution in a room.
Displaying the sound distribution in a context like a café or restaurant where the acoustic situation is often very bad would allow
people to pick a spot based on the noise inside that space.
non-obtrusive, informative, socially engaging
All this research and interest has also led to some models. (see Tomitsch et al., A Framework for Architecture as a Medium for
Expression, Pervasive 2008 Workshop on Pervasive Visual, Auditory and Alternative Modality Information Display, 2008.)
But the focus really is always on the user, which roughly spans three areas (research-wise). 1) Investigating different technologies in
controlled conditions in the form of experiments. (For example different ways of interacting with the ceiling)
2) How can users be included in the design process – when, following which methodologies, often challenging in unexplored
domains. (For example developing an ambient sound display for deaf people.)
User research: implications
of interactive technologies
Watch the movie at http://ict4d.at/helloafrica/
3) Doing user research, to collect user requirements, but even more to investigate the implications of interactive technologies. (For
example by doing ethnographic research in Africa, where the introduction of the mobile phone had a tremendous impact on the life
Martin Tomitsch | Design Lab