U-M Teach-Out on AR/MR/VR

Michael Nebeling and colleagues from U-M’s School of Information and the STAMPS School of Art and Design have put together a U-M Teach-Out on Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality. The teach-out will be delivered in the form of an open-enrollment course on Coursera for free titled Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality: Opportunities and Issues.

The course is a combination of discussion rounds, virtual lab tours, and an overview of relevant research and teaching at U-M. After one lecture introducing the different terminologies and technologies, the course features a series of discussions and expert panels on why these topics are extremely important and timely to talk about, and explores the impact on research and teaching as well as our daily lives, in a number of different domains, ranging from medicine and nursing, to landscaping and architectural design, to multimedia and entertainment.

We had a lot of fun creating this course and we hope you will be able to join us and participate in the discussion forums!

Google Daydream & Jump VR Pilot Programs

We are happy to announce that the Information Interaction Lab was selected as one of a few university labs to participate in two virtual reality (VR) pilot programs around Google Daydream and their Jump camera. These are two main VR initiatives by Google and we are happy to support them.

Daydream is a smartphone display wrapper with a tracked controller (like a wand) that turn an existing smartphone into a fully immersive headset. We already use Daydream in several of our research projects and so we are glad to participate in a broader pilot program to bring these technologies to campus and into classrooms.

What is of course also very exciting for the lab is that we have been selected as participants in Google Jump’s loan program. This is a highly sophisticated and expensive piece of equipment that we will install in the lab and use in various ongoing projects around AR/VR usability. Our current plan is to make use of this equipment specifically in a funded 12-week summer research position in our lab.

12-Week Paid Master’s Student Research Opportunities

The University of Michigan School of Information is hosting a 12-week intensive summer Research Experience for Master’s Students (REMS) from other iSchool master’s programs, schools of library and information science, or related programs, May 29–August 17, 2018.

Our lab is offering a project on AR/VR Usability Testing. You will work with UMSI professor Michael Nebeling in the Information Interaction Lab where we are investigating how multiple different types of devices can be combined and used in interesting ways to provide new interaction possibilities and enable tasks that are difficult to do using any of the devices alone. The project will focus on translating traditional methods and principles from user study design and usability testing to AR/VR usability. Depending on your interests, you could help with the development of new tools to support such studies, the design and evaluation of new kinds of AR/VR interfaces with a particular focus on usability testing, or both.

We hosted a REMS student last year. It was a very successful project and experience for both the student and the lab, which also resulted in a paper that will be presented by the student at CHI 2018.

Please check out more information on the REMS program and the AR/VR Usability Testing project. For project related questions, feel free to get in touch with Professor Nebeling directly.

Rapid Physical-Digital Prototyping with ProtoAR

We’ve just finished shooting a video summary illustrating some of the main features available in ProtoAR, our rapid prototyping tool for mobile augmented reality interfaces.

We created ProtoAR specifically for interaction designers. There are two key innovations in ProtoAR: (1) cross-device multi-layer authoring tools for live editing of mobile AR apps on phones; (2) interactive capture tools to generate mobile screens or AR overlays from paper sketches, and 3D models from Play-Doh. These are described in detail in our CHI 2018 paper.

We look forward to presenting the work at CHI 2018 in Montreal this April, and we have some more plans with ProtoAR. So stay tuned! For now, here is a preview of what one can do with ProtoAR:

3 Papers at CHI 2018

We are happy to announce that we have three conditionally accepted papers at CHI 2018 featuring our work on ProtoAR, a new AR physical-to-digital prototyping tool, GestureWiz, a gesture interface prototyping tool, and one paper on two studies into user-driven gesture representations.

  1. ProtoAR: Rapid Physical-Digital Prototyping of Mobile Augmented Reality Applications 
    M. Nebeling, J. Nebeling, A. Yu, R. Rumble
  2. GestureWiz: A Human-Powered Gesture Design Environment for User Interface Prototypes
    M. Speicher, M. Nebeling
  3. User-Driven Design Principles for Gesture Representations
    E. McAweeney, H. Zhang, M. Nebeling

See you at CHI 2018 in Montreal!

Postdoc/PhD Student Positions

The Information Interaction Lab at the University of Michigan School of Information has the following openings for Postdocs and PhD students:

  • one opening for a Postdoc (ideally, with a strong publication record in premier HCI conferences and experience with AR/VR technologies) starting 2018
  • between one and two openings for PhD students (with experience in interactive systems and devices including, but not limited to, AR/VR technologies) starting Fall 2018 (applications are due 1 December 2017).

Our lab is a rapidly growing group of talented researchers and students working on a mission to create and study next-generation user interfaces that make it easier to work with information and technology in more natural and powerful ways. We are working to push the state of the art in interface software and technologies, most recently focused on AR/VR, but also including voice-based assistants like Alexa, wearable devices such as smartwatches, and cross-device interfaces.

Be sure to check out our research page. You can find more information on how to apply on the Jobs & Internships page.

Fall 2017/Winter 2018 Research Assistant Positions

Update: I have recently hired 5 new students and I’m not actively recruiting new students for Fall 2017/Winter 2018, but I’m always happy to hear from interested students, especially anyone with experience in AR/VR interfaces.

The Information Interaction Lab at the University of Michigan School of Information is looking for two master’s students to assist with a range of ongoing AR/VR projects. After a short trial period, these positions can be converted into paid temporary research assistant positions (pay commensurate with experience).

We are looking for students with solid AR/VR design and development experience. Ideally, you consider yourself an expert in Unity and/or Three.js/A-Frame, and have experience working with AR frameworks including HoloToolkit, Tango, ARCore, ARKit, AR.js, etc. We realize that there is only a tiny fraction of students out there that have such a background, so a compromise might be that you can at least demonstrate significant front-end design and development experience, and the potential to quickly navigate the AR/VR space and learn a range of new technologies as required for our ongoing research projects.

If you think that could be you, please send an email to Michael Nebeling. Make sure to include a short paragraph about yourself and your interests in working with us. If you have it ready, please also include a CV.

Fall 2017 Hackathons

Update: Thank you to everyone who attended one or more of our special design jams on augmented reality in September! It was great that so many of you could make it. Feel free to join our MCommunity list for updates on future design jams.

As we are getting ready for the next semester, I wanted to announce here that I will again host regular student design jams (or hackathons) in my research lab starting in September 2017.

Hackathons are 3 hour blocks (most likely on Mondays or Fridays 2-5pm) for students to work on user interface research and design challenges, and this is typically done in teams (no need to come in teams, we will formulate teams at the hackathons). Sometimes design challenges continue over multiple weeks, and it happens rather frequently that students end up doing a research project with me based on some of the initial hackathon ideas.

Previous hackathons revolved around voice-based assistants using Amazon Echo and Google Home, multi-modal interaction using Kinect and Leap Motion, and cross-device interfaces using the lab’s own technologies. For the next semester, there will be new design challenges around these same topics, but there will also be a new emphasis on augmented reality interfaces.

The lab has recently obtained 2 Tango AR phones and 4 Microsoft HoloLens AR headsets that students will have access to and will be encouraged to use in projects. Again, we also have new technologies developed in the lab’s research, and my goal is to drive these technologies forward with the help of students and these hackathons.

Mi2 Lab at CHI 2017

Professor Michael Nebeling, Postdoc Max Speicher, and incoming PhD student Brian Hall attended CHI 2017, adding to the strong presence of UMSI at the premier HCI conference this year in Denver, Colorado.

Michael participated in the HCI.Tools workshop with leading technical HCI researchers discussing the opportunities and challenges that come with systems and toolkits research. In preparation for the workshop, Michael put together a position paper, “Playing the Tricky Game of Toolkits Research”, in which he summarizes the challenges he faced when starting out as a new technical HCI researcher and the lessons he has learned over the years from his own research program as well as participating in program committees at ACM CHI and EICS.

Michael also presented his new paper, “XDBrowser 2.0: Semi-Automatic Generation of Cross-Device Interfaces”, which describes two studies informing the design of a next-generation web browser able to distribute existing web interfaces between two or more devices, including tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches. In his presentation, Michael started out by saying that he was actually hoping to build a new system that can automatically generate cross-device interfaces, but that he soon realized that more research was required, leading to the two new studies described in his paper. Michael also acknowledged the support from his former BSI/MSI students and research assistants, Andie Dumas, Annabel Weiner, and Licheng Zhu.

A particular highlight for the lab was Brian’s participation in the CHI Student Research Competition. The competition involved multiple stages starting out with poster presentations on Day 1. On Day 2, a smaller group of selected students invited to the next stage were given the opportunity to summarize their research to a larger audience in a formal presentation. Finally, the top 3 students selected by leading researchers in the HCI community were announced at the end of the CHI conference in front of everyone.

Brian presented the first study he carried out as part of his project on investigating usable and effective interfaces for controlling drones. We were very proud of Brian who was recently awarded the prestigious NSF fellowship and now successfully made it through all stages and finally placed third in the highly competitive CHI Student Research Competition in the undergraduate category. Congratulations! We are looking forward to having Brian join us this Fall!