Open topics for final theses

These are some of the current topics for final theses projects in our group. Not all ideas for projects are listed here, so please get in contact if you like the general flavour of topics or if you have project ideas that fit within our area of work, and we can discuss!

We are generally interested in topics related to e.g. museum installations, IoT, e-textiles, smart toys for children, educational settings, gesture interaction, touch and tangible interaction, public displays, cultural probes, home and care, performance,  ... and check out prior theses we supervised as well as our publications 

Most topics can be done in German or English - please contact us for further information!

Dressing smartly & Feeling Good

While the worlds of fashion and technology appear to have been separated for a long time, recent years have seen large steps towards their merger. In collaboration with google, Levi’s launched Project Jacquard that integrated technology seamlessly into a jeans jacket, specially targeted to bike couriers and Yen Li Park from the Frauenhofer Institute has explored means of powering smart textiles to become autonomous systems. As the technological integration moves forward, the question how these systems will integrate into our lives remains open.

In this project you will explore the future of embodied interaction through smart textiles. Using microcontrollers such as Arduino Lilypad or Adafruit Flora, you will make a textile wearable that is integrated into clothing. The wearable will measure biophysical signals, such as heart rate, skin conductivity or other suitable measures to learn how the wearer experience their day. You will also think about ways in which the garment will communicate these – and to whom. Using user-centered research you will explore how the artefact adds to the user experience. 

Contact & Questions: Britta Schulte britta.schulte@uni-weimar.de 

Animal-Computer Interaction

Wikipedia. "Animal-computer interaction (ACI) is a field of research which studies the design and use of technology with, for and by animals. ACI emerged from, and is heavily influenced by, the discipline of human-computer interaction (HCI)." ACI has turned into a research field, with its own conference and a manifesto, that posits that similar to user-centered design, animals as users should be taken seriously. ACI may aim to improve animals life quality, to support them in the role-based services they fulfil (e.g. assistance dogs for impaired humans), or to improve communication between humans and animals. We've not done any ACI in our group yet, but it's an interesting area that requires creativity and sensitivity for working with new kinds of 'users'. In particular, to work with animals, HCI methods of design have to be adapted and re-invented. Have any ideas of your own? (This should not just be an intelligent cat-flap.... ) 

contact and questions: eva(dot)hornecker(at)uni-weimar(dot)de

Caring through technology

Increasingly technologies are developed to be used in care settings. Starting with life sign monitors for babies, over robots to support children living with autism to pill reminders and GPS trackers for people living with dementia, technologies are embedded into every phase of life. This is not without problems as data only provides a limited range of insights and poses issues about privacy. 

In this project you will use health data that is used either via available apps or prototypes you developed using biosignal technologies, such as the Bitalino kit to learn how people make sense of health data. We leave it up to you which specific context of care and user group you would like to explore. 

Contact & Questions: Britta Schulte britta.schulte@uni-weimar.de

„Bello is great, but I cannot wait for Bello X to come out“ – Values and sustainability in technology design

While some people dream about buying the newest iPhones as soon as they come out, few people would think about replacing their dog. When writing an email to tell your professor you are going to be late for class, you want to be sure that it arrives. When you write an essay, you want the software to blend into the background so that you focus on writing. Reliability, ease of use and learnability are useful properties for the many tools we use in our work context and rely on. But are they really all there is? Many devices we use in the everyday are built in this paradigms, but other objects and relationships are build on different values that enable us to make much deeper connections. This has tangible impact as we use our devices carelessly and discard them easily. 

In this method-driven project, you will use user-centred design methods, such as focus groups, co-design sessions or comparable to learn what is important to people within the relationships they care about. You will design conceptual or speculative artefacts from these insights. The level of realisation of these will depend on your preferences and technical expertise. 

Contact & Questions: Britta Schulte britta.schulte@uni-weimar.de 

“Ooooh, can I keep this?” – Designing for sustainable technologies

Mobile phones are allrounders that are with us nearly everyday. Nonetheless, few of us feel closely related to the device itself and replace them easily and quickly without thinking of the consequences.

In this hands on project you will develop a series of tangible artefacts that are meant to be kept and cherished by the users. This can be re-inventions of existing technologies and apps or completely new technologies. You will use Arduino or comparable micro-controllers to develop prototypes that can then be tested to learn whether the criteria you chose lead to a deeper engagement with technologies. 

For more information or to discuss your own ideas contact: 

Britta Schulte britta.schulte[at]uni-weimar.de

Rituals and technologies in the home

Visions of the smart home often only show a very static image of technology use. People instead often have rituals, such as placing the remote control on the TV so as to know where to find it when it is not in use, leaving the lights in the hall way switched on overnight for convenience or putting the tablet out of reach of the children when it is not in use. 

In this method-driven project you will take a user-centred approach to smart home technology and learn what rituals people have in their home around the technologies they use. This can be done by either doing research in the home and developing functional prototypes from the results or a design-led research project in which you build and evaluate the use. 

For more information  contact: 

Britta Schulte britta.schulte[at]uni-weimar.de

Data Physicalization

Data Physicalization is a new research area that investigates representations of data that are not purely screen-based and visual, but 'live from' being physical, maybe even touchable. These representations are called physicalizations, analogously to visualizations. This can range from small 3D-printed objects to large sculptural installations, where people have to walk around (or in) the data, and it may use various materials. See http://dataphys.org/list/ (for a long list of diverse examples) and this video

Following our semester project, we want to investigate data physicalizations in user studies to understand better how physicalization is different from visualization. Here are 3 different theses projects: 

- User study: How do people investigate a physicalization? How do they manipulate it and what gestures do they make? (compare single person vs. pair)
- Experimental User Study: Touch vs. non-touch vs. on-screen. How does the ability to touch influence understanding and memory? Does it make a difference if the object is real, in the same room to seeing it on-screen (maybe in 3D, but it is clearly virtual)?
- The impact of scale. Build 2 or 3 different sizes of the same physicalization and assess user experience (e.g. using AttrakDiff or PANAS questionnaires)
(The simplest for these would be to either rebuild a physicalization picked from the literature or ask a research group to send us an existing examplar for these topics – but we can also generate something new... )

Contact: Prof. Eva Hornecker

Designing a soft music interface (B.Sc. / M.Sc. with more advanced development and user evaluation)

You are interested in designing novel types of music interfaces? For this thesis topic, we suggest that your novel music device should exist out of so-called soft materials - as e.g. textile-based or pneumatic interfaces. Input modalities for activating or playing sounds can work through touch mechanisms or buttons. Your application can be inspired by existing instruments of interfaces but novelty interaction is in the focus. Skills in music making might be helpful but are not necessary. Your thesis work needs some development of hardware and software components and will surely be challenging in terms of crafting and implementing soft materials for hiding technology.

Contact & Questions:
Kristian Gohlke and Michaela Honauer
kristian.gohlke[at]uni-weimar.de / michaela.honauer[at]uni-weimar.de

Exploring Tangible Non-Screen Games with Physical Interface Props Inspired by Soft Robotics (B.Sc./M.Sc.)

Develop and implement a multiplayer interactive game that uses physicaldynamically inflatable objects/props as input/output devices and that does not rely on screen based interactions (LEDs embedded in the object and sound can be used). The goal of this thesis work is to designimplement and test prototypes of novel tangible game concepts that explore the design space and the user experience of tangible game concepts with soft and malleablehandheld interface props. The game should create engaging interactive experiences for the players without the use of a screen and support physical exertion. The game concept can be based on a (modified) existing game/sport, a new game concept or an augmented sport​. More Detail

Contact & Questions:
Kristian Gohlke, M.Sc. Digital Media / PhD Candidate
Bauhaus-Universität Weimar / Faculty of Media
kristian.gohlke[at]uni-weimar.de / http://krx.at

Machine Learning for Sensor Data Analysis in Deformable Tangible Objects for HCI Applications (BSc/MSc)

The goal of this thesis work is to implement algorithms and (embedded) software to merge and interpret (real time) data from multiple sensors by using common machine learning techniques (and tricks) to robustly distinguish between different physical input gestures for tangible HCI applications. Ready-to-use electronics and sensing platforms for development will be provided as a basis for the thesis work. Soft/Flexible and inflatable objects with integrated sensors can be provided for testing. Custom inflatables with integrated electronics and sensing can be produced at the Digital Bauhaus Lab and at the Bauhaus Apparate Labor using a custom CNC controlled heat-welding machine for Nylon or TPU.​ More Detail

Contact & Questions:
Kristian Gohlke, M.Sc. Digital Media / PhD Candidate
Bauhaus-Universität Weimar / Faculty of Media
kristian.gohlke[at]uni-weimar.de / http://krx.at

Mapping signals in different modalities - M.Sc (or very advanced B.Sc)

If we represent data in different modalities of representation (auditory, visual, haptic, etc), how would these different representational modalities align with each other? What haptic signal would correspond to a given auditory signal? Or to a visual representation= This theses project is to run an experiment where participants will map auditory signals to vibration levels, or colour output (or light intensity), while doing think-aloud. Besides of systematizing how people align the different signals, we want to know how people go about this talk, and their thought process.
Required skills:  user studies, systematic organisation of studies and analysis skills (potentially also basic electronic prototyping),

This will be a collaboration with Dr. Trevor Hogan at Cork Institute of Technology (for this reason ideally the studies should be conducted in English).  

Contact: eva.hornecker(at)uni-weimar(dot)de

Note: projects supervised by Michaela

The following projects are available from February 2020 on, when Michaela will be back working. If you are interested in one of these, you can contact her by email for questions. 

Participatory Designing Textile Interfaces for Everyday Applications – M.Sc.

This thesis proposal aims for designing and developing a textile-based application for an everyday purpose in close collaboration with the end user. It could be for wellbeing (e.g. an interactive yoga matte), for social interaction (e.g. a jacket with smartphone features), or for cultural events (e.g. a sensitive dance floor). We are open to your ideas but we also suggest concrete application topics if wished. The interface should consist of textile materials. Sensors and actuators are to be carefully embedded into it. Technologies you will use are e.g. Arduino or Adafruit Feather, and the range of available input and output modalities is huge depending on the purpose you develop for. Further useful materials are e.g. conductive fabrics, zippers, snaps, threads and yarns. Your thesis work will be completed by ongoing qualitative user studies. You will conceptualize, design and develop the product together with the target group.

Contact: michaela.honauer[at]uni-weimar.de

Textile Interfaces for Kids & Youth – B.Sc./M.Sc.

The idea of this thesis proposal is to design and develop an application for kids or youth that consist of fabrics. This could be a garment or a toy that engages this user group to interact with an innovative interface, like e.g. an MP3-Player integrated into a hoodie or a soft cube for babies containing light/sound/haptic elements. You are free to come up with an own idea and suggest a specific application. The interface should consist of textile materials. Sensors and actuators are to be carefully embedded into it. Technologies you will use are e.g. Arduino LilyPad or Adafruit Feather. Further useful materials are e.g. conductive fabrics, zippers, snaps, threads and yarns. Your thesis work will be completed by a qualitative user study.

Contact: michaela.honauer[at]uni-weimar.de and eva.hornecker[at]uni-weimar.de 

DIY Textile-based Electronics – B.Sc./M.Sc.

This thesis proposal aims at further research in the field of textile-based PCBs, sensors and actuators. Lots of publications and online tutorials (e.g.http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/) can befound on this topic. Your work wil start with a literature research and own electronic experiments. You don't need elaborated sewing skills (there are much more techniques, such as glueing ironing, or crimping) but strong interest in tinkering and experimenting with differnt types of materials (technical and textile components). Your thesis research is to be completed either with small user studies, technical comparison tests or surveys with expert users.

Contact: michaela.honauer[at]uni-weimar.de