Archive for the ‘News from product design’ Category

Driving Style of Autonomous Vehicles

February 28, 2016 Leave a comment

Jaguar Land Rover investigates how a natural driving styles (meaning driving styles from everyday drivers on the roads) could be adapted into an autonomous vehicle. Basis for the data comes from instrumented vehicles which collect data to understand the everyday driving style and then to apply that into an autonomous vehicle. The research strategy contributes to find a way to make highly automated or autonomous cars more trustworthy. Trust is a challenge for new technology, bound strongly to acceptance of new technology. Certainly, as humans, we tend to trust things more if their behaviour is similar to our own (see also my previous blog on automation and trust). However, the driving style varies dependent on the driver’s personality, experience, driving environment, and purpose of the travel. Occasionally a usually calm driver changes his / her driving style if the purpose of travel is urgent, e.g., a family member is sick and awaits the visit. On another occasion one might just want to enjoy the beautiful landscape without any other specific purpose of travel. That again influences the driving style. Of how much the driving style changes is a question to be answered.

The vehicle could ask for the purpose of travel and try to associate a driving style to that. Asking a user helps in general to understand the intentions of the task that the user wants to do and so to provide better service. However, it involves a trade-off of receiving the knowledge to deliver a better service and asking too much, making the user impatient.

To implement human like behaviour into autonomous cars occurs as trend. I found a report from last year that Google is doing research in that area as well. The report reveals another important reason to adopt human like behaviour in a car. Whereas autonomous cars are great in following rules such a behaviour can result literally in a roadblock in the unexpected environment of everyday travel. A rule is, for example, to never go over double yellow lines marking the edge of the road. Now, if a car parks in a way that another car cannot pass on the street without going over the yellow line a natural driver behaviour would be to just go over the double yellow lines. An autonomous wouldn’t do that. For no understandable reason, for the driver, it would recalculate the route. Another issue is the faster reaction time of autonomous vehicles, letting autonomous vehicles come to an abrupt stop when they sense a pedestrian. It results in a challenge for human drivers behind who are not so fast to react. Implementing adaptive human like strategies in autonomous cars helps them to deal with an environment where not everything is working along the rules, but also makes their behaviour more understanding for a human and brings their skills to level where they can interact safely with human traffic participants surrounding them.

See here for details directly at the Jaguar Land Rover website.

Auto completion for hand-drawings

January 15, 2016 Leave a comment

Auto complete for hand-drawings presented, watch the video below. This software is very useful for digital animations – repetitions can be auto completed.


Allergen Sensor

September 23, 2015 Leave a comment

A new product was developed to support people with allergies with detection of certain substances in food. As a first function the product aims to detect gluten. Later on they plan to enhance the functions of the sensor to detect other contents as well, such as peanuts or milk.

Have a look at the suppliers website, the release is planned for this fall:

However, Nima is not the only device intending to detect allergens. Researchers from the UCLA developed an attachment for the mobile phone to detect allergens. In their first test they successfully tested detection of peanuts in different types of cookies. To share the knowledge of allergens in specific food and to fasten the search process they want to connect their service with an online platform to store and share information about the food users tested. Another device for allergen testing in food is this one:

If you are interested in such a product it is worth to keep the eyes open, it seems to be an emerging field of devices.


Real Keys for iPad mini touch screen

A simulation lets you experience distracted driving

January 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Toyota developed an app for Oculus Rift that simulates different distractions while driving. For example you drive in a city environment with your car full of passengers, fancy radio music is turned on and the mobile phone rings. Most drivers sooner or later end up in an accident.

Oculus Rift brings an additional level of experience in as you see the virtual environment wherever you shift your head. It aims to raise awareness for the risks of distracted driving and hopefully helps to initiate a behaviour change in the young drivers to be aware of distractions and avoid them. Toyota is currently on tour in the US with the simulator to raise awareness for the risks of distracted driving, specifically for teenage drivers. They also offer training courses.


Clean hands wherever you go

January 18, 2015 Leave a comment

This clever product, introduced on the IDEO homepage, keeps your hands clean wherever you go. It is specifically developed for a hospital environment. Like a mobile phone you clip it to your belt and instead of walking to sink you simply wipe your hands on the device when you feel need for it. According to a study conducted by them the system improved hand cleaning considerable during a practical test in a hospital.

The only thing that you need to ensure with the device is then that the device itself clean and is regularly checked for cleanness and proper content of disinfection material (in this case an alcohol based gel). Because otherwise it may become a mobile shelter for bacteria. However, they already implemented sensors to track the hand cleaning procedures of the hospital staff. It seems only a little step further to implement an additional sensor that tracks cleaning of the device. An app could then collect the sensor data and which devices need to be cleaned and where their current location is in a nice overview.

Virtual reality at a new level for language learning

December 22, 2014 Leave a comment

With this device you can learn a new language easily while wearing 3D virtual glasses and walking around. While wearing the glasses you see your natural environment with a virtual layer overlaid. Looking around in your living room small labels will appear next to the focused objects hinting the object’s name in foreign language. Later the suppliers plan to create virtual travel trips to e.g. Paris  or London, so you can learn the language while walking around in a virtual city.

Language learning with 3D glasses is seemingly a new idea. That said, competition is already open. After a brief search I found at least two applications for Google Glass: in form of translation or in form of subtitles. The idea to use virtual reality for language learning has been tried in several cases, such as avatar languages, Whereas such learning environment does not seem to be mainstream, language learning in virtual environments in general seems to have an advantage, suggested by research.

I found it quite easy to learn a bunch of vocabulary in a new language with card systems like Anki. However, learning the correct pronunciation and to use words in a conversation is much more difficult for me. Usually it happens that when I’m relaxed I remember the word, but in a conversation I often search for it. It is like the “stress”  of the conversation speed closes my brain’s memory. Sometimes foreign language have sound combinations that do not exist in my mother language. I like conversation based approaches with grammar rules embedded in the sentences, such as Duolingo.

When using virtual reality for language learning, specifically with 3D glasses, the graphic and processing of movement in the virtual environment should be in an acceptable way. It is known from flight simulators that movement in virtual environment can cause motion sickness. It is caused due to the virtual graphic which likely looses visual cues from the natural environment. The motion sickness is temporary and diminishes after a few minutes to hours after use of the virtual reality. So perhaps if you want to use such a device you want to spend a bit time in testing it before you buy it.

The second thing that concerns me is if the application detects the objects correct, things such as a sofa or a chair can look very different and it would need a certain level of artificial intelligence to detect them correctly. So again, the product seems to be something that you should try out carefully before you buy it.