Archive for the 'Writings' Category

Requirements and Design Space for Interactive Public Displays

Figure: The Audience Funnel – adapted version
Jörg Müller, Florian Alt, Daniel Michelis, Albrecht Schmidt, in: Proceedings of the international conference on Multimedia (MM ’10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1285-1294


Digital immersion is moving into public space. Interactive screens and public displays are deployed in urban environments, malls, and shop windows. Inner city areas, airports, train stations and stadiums are experiencing a transformation from traditional to digital displays enabling new forms of multimedia presentation and new user experiences. Continue reading ‘Requirements and Design Space for Interactive Public Displays’


Audience Funnel

Figure: The Audience Funnel framework
Michelis, Müller (2011) International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction  Volume 27, Issue 6)

Paper Abstract

Data are presented from observations of Magical Mirrors, a set of four large public displays with gesture-based interaction installed in downtown Berlin, Germany. The displays show a mirror image of the environment in front of them and react with optical effects to the gestures of the audience. Observations of audience behavior revealed recurring behavioral patterns, like glancing at a first display while passing it, moving the arms to cause some effects, then directly approaching one of the following displays and positioning oneself in the center of the display. This was often followed by positioning oneself in the center of the other displays to explore the possibilities of the different effects, and sometimes by taking photographs or videos. From these observations a framework of interaction with gesture-based public display systems was deduced. It describes the phases of passing by a display, viewing & reacting, subtle interaction, direct interaction, multiple interactions, and follow-up actions. Quantitative data of these behavioral phases was collected by observing 660 passers-by on 2 weekend evenings. This article shows how many passers-by pass the thresholds between these phases. This “Audience Funnel” should provide a framework to encourage systematic investigation of public display systems and enable comparability between different studies.

Download full text on the publisher’s website.

Book Preview at Google Books

I just came across my book “Interactive Displays in Public Space – A theoretical analysis of intrinsically motivating design elements” at Google Books (only in German language).

English Abstract:

“Interactive large format displays have presently found their way into many places in public space. After a long phase of experimenting with prototypes only recently have technically mature applications been observed that are used in an increasing number of potential areas. This dissertation examines the motivations behind the use of these applications.

Serving as the point of departure are four large format displays of the installation Magical Mirrors, developed as prototypes by the author of this work, and which allowed the first experiences with the use of interactive large format displays in public space to be collected even before the beginning of the investigation. These initial experiences were taken into consideration in developing the research questions and design.
At the center of the work is an analysis of theoretical motivations in which five motivational factors are determined according to previous research work and in consideration of the demands specific to interactive large format displays. In the analysis of these factors a set of tools of fundamental motivations are identified from which design elements for interactive large format displays in public space can be derived. The results of the analysis are subjected to an empirical examination. In 15 partial experiments the observed user behavior of a total of 4640 passersby is analyzed.
On the basis of this empirical investigation this dissertation presents – as one of the first scholarly works in this area – a contribution to the understanding of the fundamental motivations behind the use of interactive large format displays in public space.”

Buchveröffentlichung / Book available


Today, my dissertation:

“Interaktive Großbildschirme im öffentliche Raum: 
Nutzungsmotive und Gestaltungsregeln”

was published here

To get an overview on the content you can download the index of contents at GABLERS official website.  

As mentioned earlier it is in German only but I invited to publish english papers at Pervasive 09 (Workshop Pervasive Advertising) and EuroITV 200 (Workshop “Designing and understanding enjoyable media experiences“).

Public Displays: Research Limitations

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More and more academic research projects are starting to explore the usage of interactive displays in public space but until today there are three central limitations in this area of investigation:

Limitation 1: There are merely empirical investigations

The vast majority of research projects with interactive displays in public space is based on explorative investigation only. Most projects analyze the spread large-scale displays in public space from a very generic perspective, raise general non-systematic questions and offer only hypothetic answers. The entry of interactive applications into public space is part of a greater tendency: computer usage has seeped into public life and is no longer restricted to mere task fulfillment at the workplace. While task oriented theories simply regard the “how” of an activity but not the “why”, they leave questions concerning underlying motivations unanswered. Presently there exists a significant need for furthering the understanding of motivations behind user activities. Only very little is known about the process of interaction and particularly, about how interactive displays activate engagement of passers-by and encourage intensive user-interaction.

Limitation 2: Real-world studies are needed to fully understand public interaction processes. Continue reading ‘Public Displays: Research Limitations’

Human Love Affair with Reflection

Long before the development of the computer, the mirror was used as a medium for visual simulation. Virtual worlds were simulated for hundreds of years. The term ’virtuality’ originally indicated the opposite of reality: the virtual distinguishes itself from the real and denotes a fictional world. The mirror was the central instrument for the creation of a virtual world. The creation of illusion was its inherent function. The images that arise through the reflections on its surface exist only apparently. They reflect back another real image fictionally. [1]

The ability to capture the real world and reflect it back in a true to life or even distorted way was for a long time the sole privilege of the mirror. Today this ability is emulated via digital media technologies. Through the development of photography, film, radio, television and computers, today’s world is inundated with images that imitate the virtuality of the mirror’s image. [2] With the introduction of new mediums, not only the mirror but all forms of representation developed by man in the last five thousand years have been translated into digital form. As a consequence a variety of digital techniques for visual simulation have taken root that operate within the tradition of past mediums. They consistently fulfil the same goal: they satisfy the needs of the viewer and meet his or her desire for visual simulation. The content and purpose of the presentation haven’t changed, rather the technique and form have. Through the use of digital technologies new opportunities arise to satisfy man’s age-old desire for experiencing fictional worlds. Independent from content and fictional histories the desire for immersion is at the fore: in striving to experience fictional worlds we are searching for an experience similar to that of jumping into a swimming pool or into the ocean. The experience of being completely submerged in another reality. We enjoy leaving our familiar world behind and exploring the characteristics of the new environment. We want to swim around and see new possibilities arise. The feeling of experiencing virtually a fictional place is according to Murray “pleasurable in itself”. [3]
An early example for a working approach of new media applying the experience of immersion is the ALIVE project of the MIT Media Lab. Core component of the project is a “magic mirror”, in which the viewer finds himself next to a comic character who directly interacts with the user. The figure follows any movement of the user, appearing to have a live on its own within the mirror. The digital mirror of the ALIVE project is the interface that reflects the picture of the user in a virtual world. The function of the mirror is implemented in the hardware, in this case the camera that records the picture and the screen that visualizes the user next to the comic figure. In the development of new media, the camera is the central interface for users and the screen the visualization component. A more recent approach is the project Augmented Mirror by the Ambient Intelligence Group at MIT. The aim of the project is to develop intuitive interfaces using the mirror as the primary interface. The research goals for the future are described as „ investigating several applications of the technology, including communication with mobile phones to collect behavior data, face recognition to identify members of a family as well as clothing store application instant messaging application.“ The production of illusion in the 20th century was primarily overtaken by mass media photography, film and video, which were then displaced by the computer with its screen that Manovich also designates as “illusion generator”. [4] In the digital age analogue glass mirrors are displaced as a medium of visual production. In its place stands the digital screen as the dominant interface between man and computer.

Digital mirrors for an interaction with passers-by are also in the centre of the media façade presented here at The installation aims at encourage the debate on digital media and the research on s technological interaction possibilities and limits.

[1] Pendergrast, M. (2003). Mirror mirror: a history of the human love affair with reflection. Cambridge, Basic Books.
[2] Ryan, M.-L. (2001). Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore/London, John Hopkins.
[3] Murray, J. (1998). Hamlet on the Holodeck. Cambridge/Mass., MIT Press.
[4] Manovich, L. (2001). The Language of New Media. Cambridge/Mass., MIT Press.

Daniel Michelis (Excerpt from: D. Michelis, Observing Interaction with Public Displays, 5th European Interactive TV Conference, Amsterdam, May 23-25, 2007)

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