Below, Jordan Jobs, a recipient of the DAAD RISE Scholarship, shares her experience in Germany.
During my time in the DAAD RISE Scholar Program, I am interning at the Technische Universität Dortmund for PhD candidate, Falk-Moritz Schaefer, in the electrical engineering department. Falk’s research deals with home convergence networks, using different systems to connect smart home technologies.
One of the problems, besides the cost of smart home technology, is that the interfaces are not intuitive. My contribution to the project is to investigate current smart home interfaces and utilize usability principles to evaluate and propose a set of interface guidelines specifically for the smart home project’s interface. The guidelines will be utilized for the project group’s graphical user interface (GUI) design. This aspect is important because the system can work perfectly fine, but if users cannot interact with the interface easily the project will not be successful.
The usability principles that I have been referring to were introduced to me during my Human Computer Interaction course in the iSchool taught by Dr. Jennifer Rode; I’m very excited to be utilizing and exploring this subject in more depth through this project.
Also, I will be helping the project group come up with scenarios for their prototype. In the upcoming fall semester, the prototype has to be demoed to several audiences with a diverse set of knowledge in the smart home domain in ten minutes. It is a challenge to have an audience relate to a smart home prototype in a college classroom in only ten minutes. I will be staging the demo so that all of the prototypes’ capabilities are shown in the allotted time, as well as creating a scenario that can be related to so the audience can understand the significance of the project.
Before my internship in Dortmund is over, I will be giving a presentation on my smart home usability research to the whole department as well. The presentation will be similar to a bachelor’s thesis presentation which is done by all undergraduates at the end of their studies. I am very grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had here in Germany. I’ve been able to work, interact, and embrace another country, an opportunity that I didn’t know I’d ever get to receive.