Mobile

A lot has changed since smartphones and tablets became popular (?) devices. In the beginning those devices were primarily considered for communication purposes and beyond that merely occasional and casual interactions. This has changed in the last decade, mobile, handheld devices have become an important cornerstone of our modern information architecture. The applications have extended to business, research, disaster management, sensor networks, and many other fields. There are many indicators that illustrate these developments: google queries from mobile devices have exceeded desktop queries, in some countries we are already speaking about mobile first countries.

This ongoing trend confronts us as designers, researchers and developers with new challenges.

Human Visualization Interaction

Over the last few years Information Visualization has gone beyond its academic and expert only roots. Visualizations have become a tool for mass communication. Visualizations that go beyond barcharts and scatterplots have for example made their way into digital as well as printed news products, they appear on tv or in reports like the IPCC report on climate change. As those techniques move into the public realm of information consumption, it becomes even more important than in the past, that we also look at how users are using, reading and understanding those visualizations.

Through our research we are not only trying to optimize the way we produce visualizations and make them more legible and easier to understand for experts and laymen alike, but we are also trying to push the boundaries of visual literacy.

Marker cluster example

Visualization & Science Communication

Over the last few years we have seen a trend of researchers trying to step down from their ivory towers and reconnecting with the public. The government and other research funding agencies are making it mandatory to embed scientific communication concepts into every research project. Those communication strategies are targeting the exchange with other experts, the communication of scientific insights to the public and the industry, to foster the faster application of research results into products and services.
Those needs are a xxx challenge for every researcher alike. Used to communicate among peers, the communication to other interests groups asks for a completely different set of tools. To overcome the challenge of communicating, often complex and abstract scientific concepts, visualization can play a translating role in helping groups with various backgrounds to benefit from those insights.

Interfaces at scale

Large Scale Multitouch Interface

In recent years, we designed and realized successful new forms of visualizing information for individual and collaborative exploration on interactive surfaces.

In the Interaction Design Lab we have available our self-developed large scale maeve table, three Multitouch cells, and one Microsoft Surface table.

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While the primary focus of ubiquitous computing lies upon embedding smaller and smaller technologies into everyday products and activities, we also have an increasing number of large scale displays surrounding us. Those new interfaces challenge our understanding of public and private interactions as well as of existing interaction techniques, which are mostly derived from desktop applications.

User Experience Lab

Our User Experience Lab is a state-of-the-art lab equipped with eye-tracking, video recording hardware, and modern usability software.

Our User Experience Lab is a state-of-the-art lab equipped with eye-tracking, video recording hardware, and modern usability software. The lab is a comfortable two-room facility including testing and observation rooms.

The User Experience Lab is equipped with eye-tracking and head-tracking systems including analysis and evaluation components to execute user studies, to measure user specific actions and reactions in their handling with interactive interfaces, and to incorporate spatial movements into the interaction process. Thus, we are able to extend our methodogical set of empirical tests and usability evaluations.

Furthermore, we have portable eye-tracking systems to do user experience and usability tests in the field.

Visualization

At the Interaction Design Lab, we consider visualization as one of our core competences. Our approach to visualization blends scientific information visualization with a unique understanding of form, interaction and usage. We believe that design principles and design thinking should be applied to the development of information and data visualizations.

While visualization has been a scientific discipline for many years, it has just recently emerged as a research field for designers. Visualization allows users to make sense of the invisible – to see, explore and understand complex structures and relationships.

At the Interaction Design Lab, we consider visualization as one of our core competences. Our approach to visualization blends scientific information visualization with a unique understanding of form, interaction and usage. We believe that design principles and design thinking should be applied to the development of information and data visualizations. A creative understanding of typography, color, space, movement and interaction is crucial to an innovative and successful design of a visualization.

Visualization is no longer limited to the page or to the screen. The spatial organization of data and and new interaction paradigms – like multitouch – allow us to explore new forms of visualization.

Instead of using generic visualizations, the visual display of data and information is a design problem that needs to be addressed individually – every visualization needs to be crafted depending on its complexity and its use cases.

Prototyping

Prototyping is an essential part of our development process – no matter if we are working on software interfaces, interactive installations or physical interfaces. Early on in the design process, we build low level prototypes that enable us to test and evaluate the design.

Prototyping is an essential part of our development process – no matter if we are working on software interfaces, interactive installations or physical interfaces. Early on in the design process, we build low level prototypes that enable us to test and evaluate the design. Our prototyping techniques are not limited to a specific technology.

In the design process, we use hardware prototyping technologies like Arduino and physical computing, software technologies like Processing and Flash. But for the first prototypes we usually stick to paper and cardboard. Working like this enables us to pursue an iterative design process. We always find it amazing, how many interaction design problems can already discussed with the use of very simple tools!