Vertr.-Prof. Dr. Jan Ehlers · Computer Science

Cognition goes interface!

Welcome to the Usability Research Group at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar! These pages offer a first glimpse of our various research and teaching activities.

Below, this page collects various items that we judged to be newsworthy enough to be gladly shared with the world outside our group. To find out more about the Usability Research Group itself, about our teaching activities, our research foci or the individual projects that we work on, or about our publications, please click on the tabs above. We would like to hear from you with comments or questions about our work!

Featured projects

Shoe me the way!
Tangible pointers

Click here to see a sample of our research projects.

TETRIS at CHI 2017 (20/12/16)

The manuscript "”Not another Z piece!” Adaptive Difficulty in TETRIS" has been accepted for CHI 2017 and will be presented at the conference in Denver in May 2017. Authors are Katharina Spiel, Sven Bertel, and Fares Kayali.

Contribution to Computer & Education (16/10/16)

Our manuscript on "Rotate It! - Effects of touch-based gestures on elementary school students' solving of mental rotation tasks" has just been accepted for publication at Computers and Education and will shortly become available as a pre-print. Authors of this interdisciplinary work are Steffi Zander, Stefanie Wetzel and Sven Bertel.

Paper receives honourable mention (7/9/16)

Update on "Can’t Touch This – The Design Case Study of a Museum Installation" by Michael Pannier, Eva Hornecker and Sven Bertel: We have been presented with an honourable mention award at the Mensch & Computer 2016 conference.

Paper accepted at Mensch und Computer conference (31/5/16)

The contribution "Can’t Touch This – The Design Case Study of a Museum Installation" has been accepted at the Mensch & Computer 2016 conference as a full research paper. Authors are Michael Pannier, Eva Hornecker and Sven Bertel.

Paper accepted at COGSCI 2016 (11/4/16)

Our paper titled "A Perception-Based Threshold for Bidirectional Texture Functions" will be presented at COGSCI 2016 in Philadelphia. Authors are Banafsheh Azari, Sven Bertel, and Charles Wuethrich. 

Rotate it! to be presented at ICLTC 2016 (5/4/16)

Results of the Rotate it! project will be presented at ICLTC 2016, the 9th International Cognitive Load Theory Conference. Authors are Steffi Zander, Stefanie Wetzel, and Sven Bertel.

Bauhaus Interaction Colloquium talk (23/2/16)

Valentin Heun (MIT Media Lab / Bauhaus-Universität Weimar) will give a talk in the Bauhaus Interaction Colloquium on the Reality Editor. Monday, 23 February. Start is at 3pm in room 116, van de Velde Werkstatt.

Stefanie Wetzel wins stipend (19/2/16)

Heartfelt congratulations go to Stefanie Wetzel for winning a 2016/17 Förderverein stipend for her Ph.D. project! 

Workshop on models in spatial cognition (14/2/16)

Sven Bertel will be one of the invited speakers at the upcoming 
International Workshop on Models and Representations in Spatial Cognition at Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst, on 3-4 March 2016.

Contexto book chapter published (3/2/16)

After more than a year in the making, the Springer book Advances and New Trends in Environmental and Energy Informatics has finally been published. It includes a chapter on The Contexto Framework: Leveraging Energy Awareness in the Development of Context-Aware Applications by Maximilian Schirmer, Sven Bertel, and Jonas Pencke.

New project wins funding (29/1/16)

Our summer project on "Adaptive, human-computer collaborative search in design spaces" has just received funding. The project will be conducted in collaboration with research partners from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanisms (Computational Architecture & InfAR).

Stefanie Wetzel wins prize at Wissenschaftstag (18/11/15)

Congratulations to Stefanie Wetzel for winning the main prize in the young researcher's competition at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar's 2015 Science Day (Wissenschaftstag). Well done, Steffi!

Shoe me the way 2.0 has lauched (19/10/15)

A warm welcome to the new project goes out to Revathi Gurumoorthi, Thomas Dressel, Tom Kohlberg, and Vanessa von Jan!

Contribution at TEI 2016 (13/10/15)

A full paper on "Modifying Gesture Elicitation: Do Covert Kinaesthetic Priming and Increased Production Reduce Legacy Bias?" will be presented at TEI 2016 in Eindhoven. Authors are Eva Hornecker, Lynn Hoff, and Sven Bertel.

BBQ at Künstlergarten: Usability + HCI + Mobile Media (21/9/15)

Contribution at ITS 2015 (13/8/15)

Our 6-page extended abstract on "pART bench: a Hybrid Search Tool for Floor Plans in Architecture" has been accepted for presentation at ACM ITS 2015! Authors are Veronika Krauß, Ekaterina Fuchkina, Gabriela C. Molina León, Oana-Iuliana Popescu, Florian Echtler, and Sven Bertel. 

New project wins funding (10/8/15)

Our new project "Shoe me the way: eye tracking meets shoe-based tactile interaction" wins funding!

University prize (13/7/15)

Heartfelt congratulations to Johannes Hartmann for winning the annual prize of the university (Hochschulpreis) for his Bachelor's thesis on the Shoe me the way project!!

Manuscript accepted for publication in Frontline Learning Research (26/6/15)

Our manuscript titled Does Personalisation Promote Learners’ Attention? An Eye-Tracking Study has been accepted for publication in Frontline Learning Research. Authors are Steffi Zander, Maria Reichelt, Stefanie Wetzel, Frauke Kämmerer, and Sven Bertel.

pART bench wins funding (22/6/15)

URG's student project pART bench wins funding through a program for female students in STEM research and teaching. The funds will be used to pay participants in usability tests throughout the summer.

Shoe me the way to be presented at MobileHCI 2015 (20/6/15)

Shoe me the way, our tactile interface for eyes-free pedestrian navigation in urban environments, will be presented as a full paper at ACM SIGCHI's MobileHCI 2015 conference. Authors are Maximilian Schirmer, Johannes Hartmann and Sven Bertel (Usability Research Group) and Florian Echtler (Mobile Media). 

Conference paper on adaptive eLearning (1/6/15)

A manuscript on Performance and emotion: a study on adaptive elearning based on learning styles has been accepted as a full paper for presentation at EL2015, the 9th International Conference on e-Learning. Authors are Jennifer Beckmann, Sven Bertel, and Steffi Zander.

Rotate it! to be presented at EARLI 2015 in Cyprus (20/4/15)

Current results of our Rotate it! project will be presented in a talk at the EARLI 2015 conference in Limassol, Cyprus. The contribution is titled Rotate it! – Measuring and training the dynamics of mental and physical rotation ability of elementary school students; authors are Sven Bertel, Stefanie Wetzel, Christoph Halang, and Helmut Niegemann.

Update on Shoe me the way (18/4/15)

Seems like our Shoe me the way prototype will walk the streets of Copenhagen this August…!  

Contexto paper to appear soon (17/4/15)

Good news on Contexto! Our paper CONTEXTO: Leveraging Energy Awareness in the Development of Context-Aware Applications is nearing publication at Springer as part of the volume Selected and Extended Contributions from the 28th International Conference on Informatics for Environmental Protection

Three contributions accepted at ECEM 2015 (15/4/15)

We'll present three projects at ECEM 2015 in Vienna in August: These are Eye movements as predictors of users’ cognitive load with parallel coordinate plots (Stefanie Wetzel & Sven Bertel), Framing gameplay experience with eye movement based adaptation (Katharina Spiel & Sven Bertel), and Aversive gaze during multimedia learning: emotionally charged stimuli and the personalization effect (Sven Bertel, Stefanie Wetzel, Maria Reichelt, & Steffi Zander).

New project pART bench starts today (13/4/15)

Our new student project pART bench starts today, as a fresh follow-up to the pART project, which has been recently concluded. A very warm welcome to Ekaterina Fuchkina, Veronika Krauß, Gabriela Molina, OanaIuliana Popescu (all from Computer Science in Media, Human-Computer Interaction, or Media Informatics), and to Pol Forman (from Media Architecture)!

CESIP Workshop at COSIT 2015: Call for papers (16/3/15)

CESIP 2015 will be held at this year's COSIT conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The acronym stands for Cognitive Engineering for Spatial Information Processes: From User Interfaces to Model-Driven Design. The call for papers is now out; the deadline for submissions is July 5. So, spread the word! CESIP will be organized by Sven Bertel of Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Peter Kiefer, Simon Scheider, and Tyler Thrash of ETH Zurich, and Alexander Klippel of Pennsylvania State University. More information can be found here.

Former URG student wins stipend (15/3/15)

Congratulations to Marcus Kossatz for winning a Förderverein stipend for 2015/16! Marcus is a current Master's student within the Computer Science and Media program who completed his Bachelor's thesis at the Usability Research Group. The topic of his thesis was Visualizing historical developments on digital maps: Costs and benefits of using animation.

Funding for new semester project 'pART bench' (6/2/15)

We have acquired funding for a continuation of pART through Studium.Bauhaus / BMBF funds. This summer's semester project will be labelled 'pART bench' and will be offered in cooperation with the Mobile Media and the Computer Science in Architecture groups.

Continued funding for Bauhaus.Interaction Colloquium (31/1/15)

Good news: the story of the Bauhaus.Interaction Colloquium will go on! We have received funding to continue into the colloquium's second year.

Lecture on GIScience for Intelligent Services (28/1/15)

Kai-Florian Richter (University of Zurich, Geographic Information Visualization and Analysis) will visit the Usability lab on January 27 and 28. Dr. Richter will give a public lecture on GIScience for Intelligent Services on January, 28, 1:30pm (Bauhausstraße 11, 015). 

Today: Bite the Bytes (23/1/15)

Students of local schools tour the media informatics labs (more, in German).

Christoph Hölscher (ETH Zurich) to talk in the Bauhaus.Interaction colloquium (12/1/15)

Christoph Hölscher of ETH Zurich will visit the Usability Research Group on Monday, January 12. As part of his visit, Prof. Hölscher will address the Bauhaus.Interaction Colloquium in a talk on Wayfinding, Interaction & Design: Information Processing in Space (7pm, van de Velde Werkstatt, room 116).

Zweitausendvierzehn (24/12/14)

The Usability Research Group concludes a very successful year. Many heartfelt thanks to all staff, students, and collaborators!! See you all again in 2015!

Accreditation committee for HCI Master's program visits labs (03/12/14)

The labs of the Usability Research group were among the labs visited today by ACQUIN's accreditation committee for the newly inaugurated HCI Master's program at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. We gave committee members a good tour that included Tangible pointers, Rotate it!, and Shoe me the way

Talk at GI-Forum in Münster (02/12/14)

Sven Bertel gave an invited talk on Cognitive usability factors of spatial interfaces and interfaces in space at the GI-Forum of the Institute for Geoinformatics, Universität Münster.

Rotate it! tests in schools to receive continued funding (22/11/14)

Testing of our interactive Rotate it! app for spatial education of elementary school students will receive continued financial support for 2015 (funding to be provided by TMBWK, jointly with Prof. Steffi Zander, Instructional Design, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar).

Jürgen Steimle to talk in the Bauhaus.Interaction colloquium on November 19 (13/11/14)

Prof. Jürgen Steimle (Embodied Interaction Group at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and Saarland University) will give a talk on Digital Fabrication of Interactive Objects and Surfaces in the Bauhaus.Interaction colloquium on Wednesday, November 19, 7pm, in van de Velde Werkstatt (room 116) / Winkelbau (opposite the main building), Geschwister-Scholl-Str. 7. Jürgen Steimle will visit the Usability Research Lab on Thursday, November 20.

Cognitive Science article appears in print (29/10/14)

The article on Modeling Mental Spatial Reasoning About Cardinal Directions in Cognitive Science by Holger Schultheis, Sven Bertel, and Thomas Barkowsky appeared in print today!

Public lecture by Christian Freksa on Monday, October 27 (22/10/14)

Prof. Christian Freksa, Ph.D. (Head of the Cognitive Systems group at the University of Bremen, Director of the Spatial Cognition Research Center in Bremen and Freiburg) will give a public lecture on Monday, October 27 on Computational problem solving in spatial substrates: A cognitive systems engineering approach. The lecture will commence at 5:00pm at Bauhausstraße 11, seminar room 015. An abstract of the lecture and a short biography of the speaker can be found here.

Contexto awarded as best contribution of the EASED@EnviroInfo workshop, upcoming publication (21/10/14)

Our paper Contexto: Leveraging Energy Awareness in the Development of Context-Aware Applications was awarded as the best contribution of the EASED@EnviroInfo workshop. The paper has been selected for the book 'EnviroInfo 2014 - 28th International Conference on Informatics for Environmental Protection - Selected Contributions' at Springer. A much extended version of the paper will appear in 2015. Authors are Maximilian Schirmer, Sven Bertel, and Jonas Pencke. 

Article to be published in the Computer Games Journal (20/10/14)

Congratulations to Katharina Spiel! An article describing her Bachelor's thesis work on Navigation and Immersion of Blind Players in Text-Based Games will be published in the upcoming student edition of the Computer Games Journal (tCGJ). Co-authors are Sven Bertel, and Michael Heron (Robert Gordon University, UK).

Cognitive Systems course starts today (20/10/14)

This winter, the regularly held Master-level course on Cognitive Systems will be given by Dr. Holger Schultheis and Dr. Frank Dylla of the University of Bremen. Lectures and lab will start today at 5pm in seminar room 015.

Fulbright administrators visit the Usability Research Lab (14/10/14)

A delegation of five Fulbright program U.S. administrators visited the Usability Research Lab today. Dr. Cooper, Ms. Brandau, Dr. Kitson-Walters, Ms. Nestler, and Dr. Sparaco are on a visit to Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and were given a tour of our lab and projects.

Innovative teaching + student research: two new projects receive funding (09/2014)

Two upcoming projects in the usability lab have received additional funding via university administered BMBF-projects: (1) pART 2 is a student research project on parametric architectural retrieval tools (in cooperation with Michel Triemer and Sven Schneider, Group of Prof. Dirk Donath, Computer Science in Architecture). (2) A research seminar on factors of attention, learning, and emotion in interacting with media (in cooperation with Prof. Zander, Instructional Design). 

Usability Research Lab @ summaery 2014 (07/07/14)

We will present a sample of our exciting projects at summaery 2014. Come and visit us during Open Lab Night! When? On Friday, July 10 (5-9pm, with BBQ, drinks and live music). The labs will also be open for visitors on Saturday, July 11 (2-5pm). Where? Bauhausstr. 11, ground floor, room 015.

Contexto framework to be presented at EASED@EnviroInfo (03/07/14)

Our paper on Contexto: Leveraging Energy Awareness in the Development of Context-Aware Applications will be presented at the 4th Workshop on Energy Aware Software-Engineering and Development at this year's EnviroInfo conference. The authors are Maximilian Schirmer, Sven Bertel and Jonas Pencke.

pART featured as Summaery2014 in progress (24/06/14)

The student project pART (parametric Architectural Retrieval Tools) is featured as one of a few selected projects for Summaery2014 in progress, in preparation of this year's Summaery exhibition of Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. Details can be found here [in German only, photo: Thomas Müller].

Two contributions accepted at Mensch & Computer 2014 (24/05/14)

Two contributions of the Usability Research Group have been accepted at the Mensch & Computer 2014 conference: A full paper by Maximilian Schirmer, Sven Bertel and Ronja Wilkening on CONTEX(T)PLORER: A Mobile Inspector for Ubiquitous Environments will be presented in the main program of the conference. We will also have a poster on Adaptive eLearning based on individual learning styles – Performance and emotional factors, with Jennifer Beckmann, Sven Bertel and Steffi Zander as co-authors.

Article appears in Cognitive Science (16/05/14)

As of today, the article on Modeling Mental Spatial Reasoning About Cardinal Directions in Cognitive Science becomes available as an online preview. Authors are Holger Schultheis, Sven Bertel and Thomas Barkowsky. 

Presentation at the EARLI SIG 2 2014 meeting in Rotterdam (13/05/14)

Our contribution on Does Personalization Promote Learners' Attention? An Eye-Tracking Analysis Compares Neutral and Aversive Stimuli has been accepted for regular presentation at the upcoming EARLI SIG 2 2014 meeting in Rotterdam. Co-authors are Steffi Zander, Maria Reichelt, Stefanie Wetzel and Sven Bertel.

Contribution at EICS 2014 Workshop (23/04/14)

A position paper on Individual Cognitive Abilities and Styles in HCI: Three Main Challenges and a Tiered Adaptation Model by Sven Bertel has been accepted for presentation at the ACM SIGCHI EICS Workshop on HCI Engineering: Charting the Way towards Methods and Tools for Advanced Interactive Systems.

Contribution at Spatial Cognition 2014 (16/04/14)

The project Tangible Pointers will present a poster on Tangible Pointers to Map Locations at this year's Spatial Cognition conference in Bremen. Co-authors are Sven Bertel, Tom Kohlberg, Hans-Ulrich Lutter, and Dora Spensberger.

New Bauhaus.Interaction colloquium series starts today (14/04/14)

The new, interdisciplinary Bauhaus.Interaction colloquium series starts today with a presentation by Kia Höök of the Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm. 

Project pArt starts today (10/04/14)

The new student project on Supporting design interactions with parametric architectural design tools (pART) starts today. We welcome Georg Erfurt, Felicitas Höbelt, Oana-Iuliana Popescu and Aaron Solbach to the lab! The project is externally supported by Sven Schneider and Michel Triemer of the Computer Science in Architecture group of the Faculty of Architecture. Financial support by BUW's competitive Teaching Funds is gratefully acknowledged. 

HistoGlobe at CeBIT 2014 (16/03/14)

The Weimar-based start-up company HistoGlobe will exhibit at CeBIT 2014, sponsored by the Usability Research Group.

Full paper accepted at EICS 2014 (15/03/14)

We'll go to Rome in June! Our contribution on Dynamically Adapting an AI Game Engine Based on Players' Eye Movements and Strategies to this year's ACM SIGCHI EICS has been accepted as a full paper. The acceptance rate was only around 18%. Authors are Stefanie Wetzel, Katharina Spiel and Sven Bertel.

Contribution at the EARLI SIG 6&7 meeting (13/03/14)

We will present a poster on Why Personalization Effects occur in Multimedia Learning? – An Eye-Tracking Study at this year's EARLI SIG 6&7 meeting. Co-authors are Maria Reichelt, Stefanie Wetzel, Sven Bertel and Steffi Zander.

Student project wins funding (02/08/13)

This fall's student project on Eye movement tracking for mobile usability testing wins funding by BUW's competitive Teaching Funds. 

New project on Mental Rotation Trainer (30/07/13)

A new project has officially started today: Logging and analyzing various user interactions in our iOS app Rotate it! The app will be used in training elementary school students. Funding for the logging component is by the University of Erfurt / TAB. 

Saturday: Meet 'Sehenswürdig' at Weimarer Sommer (02/07/13)

Come and check out the current prototype of 'Sehenswürdig' at Weimarer Sommer! On Saturday, 06 July, between 15:00 and 18:00, the team of "Pointing through space & time" will be presenting at Künsterhausgarten, next to Theaterplatz. Details on Weimarer Sommer can be found here.

Eye tracking study on eLearning online (01/07/13)

Bezahlte Lehrstunde: Um zu testen, wie sich der Lernerfolg beim eLearning steigern lässt, führen die Juniorprofessuren Usability und Instructional Design derzeit eine gemeinsame Nutzerstudie durch. Wir bitten Sie herzlich um tatkräftige Unterstützung durch Ihre Teilnahme an dieser Studie! Die Studie wird mit Hilfe eines Eyetrackers durchgeführt und dauert ca. eine bis maximal anderthalb Stunden. Am Ende gibt es eine Belohnung in Form eines 5€-Gutscheins für das Bauhaus-Atelier. Alle, die teilnehmen möchten, tragen sich bitte inklusive der Emailadresse für einen Termin ein unter:

Project wins seed funding (02/05/2013)

The research project Talk to me personally on personalizing instructional material wins seed funding for 2013/14! The project has been proposed jointly with Steffi Zander. 

Antagonists will be at ECEM 2013 in Lund (17/04/13)

The teaching project of the Usability Research Group on Antagonists for Visuo-Spatial Games will present a poster at the 17th European Conference on Eye Movements (ECEM 2013) in Lund, Sweden. Authors are Sven Bertel, Jannis Harder, Florian Madeya, Katharina Spiel and Stefanie Wetzel. 

Two students win Bauhaus stipends (06/04/2013)

Simon Schneegans, who completed his Bachelor's thesis at the Usability Resarch Group in September 2012, and former teaching asssitant Anna Beyer each win a Bauhaus stipend for 2013/14. Congratulations to both!!

Schlënder successful at CeBIT 2013 (15/03/2013)

Students of the Usability Research Group have just returned from CeBIT 2013, where they sucessfully presented their Android app Schlënder. Read more...

This summer, conquer space & time with us! (06/03/2013)

Our upcoming project in the summer term features time travel, iOS programming, gesture-based interaction and geo-spatial data management. Read more...

Schlënder at CeBIT 2013 (05/03/2013 - 09/03/2013)

We are very proud that the Schlënder project will be part of the "Research for the future" stand at CeBIT 2013. Ellen, Hannes, Till and Sascha will present live demos of the app. For further information on the project's progress, please visit