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

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 for example, Levi’s launched the 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. The project can be taken into a variety of directions depending on your interests (the following questions are interrelated and can be combined and extended based on your personal interests and ideas) 
- Design: How can we design smart textiles in a user-centered way? What roles could these technologies take on and how would we interact with them? Which new design opportunities arise through the situated and embodied nature of clothing?
- Method: How can we learn about people’s wishes and fears for future smart textiles? What is the impact of the situated and embodied nature of clothing on the interactions?

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

Caring through technology

Increasingly technologies are developed to be used in care settings. Starting with life sign monitors for babies [5], over robots to support children living with autism (e.g. [1]) to pill reminders (e.g. [3]) and GPS trackers for people living with dementia [4], technologies are embedded into every phase of life. Nonetheless, these technologies are often based in a very narrow, quantified mindset, which focuses in many cases on the measurement of life signs and scheduled activities. This has been criticized to lead to datafication of care [2]and solutions that do not fit well into the everyday lifes of people. 

In this project you will use creative data collection methods to explore what the concept of care means to people. Suitable methods might be design workshops or probe studies in which you design tasks for participants to do in their own time. You will select the focus of the research yourself and define the context of care and the people you would like to address. Building on these insights, you will design conceptual artefacts that enhance the feelings being cared for that participants express. These artefacts do not have to fully function, but should clearly communicate the insights you gathered from the participants. 

[1]        Cho, Shin. 2011. Caregiving Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Using an Animal Robot. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/1957656.1957801
[2]        Ruckenstein, Schull. 2016. The Datafication of Health. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102116-041244
[3]        Stawarz, Aox, Blandford. 2014. Don’T Forget Your Pill!: Designing Effective Medication Reminder Apps That Support Users’ Daily Routines. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/2556288.2557079
[4]        Wan, Müller, Wulf, Randall. 2014. Addressing the Subtleties in Dementia Care: Pre-study & Evaluation of a GPS Monitoring System. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/2556288.2557307
[5]        Wang, O’Kane, Newhouse, Sethu-Jones, de Barbaro. 2017. Quantified Baby: Parenting and the Use of a Baby Wearable in the Wild. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3134743

Contact & Questions: Britta Schulte britta.schulte@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