Interactions Research Group

Welcome to the Interactions Research Group!

We investigate technology-mediated interactions in complex socio-technical systems. Within this broad field, we are interested in a great many aspects of the interaction of (computer) systems with other systems as well as with people, and specifically in pervasive computing environments.

We invite you to browse our research, teaching, and members on this page! Also, have a look here for open topics for your Bachelor or Master thesis. You can find quick links to our publications at the very bottom.

Interactions Research Group Team Photo

Our Research

Ongoing PhD Theses

In our group, the PhD work of Danai (Google Scholar) is on the bridging of affordance-driven and hypermedia-driven interaction in the design of adaptive interfaces for human and artificial agents in Web-based Multi-Agent Systems while Jérémy (Google Scholar) studies how heterogeneous agents can combine their own specialized knowledge and cognitive abilities in order to improve collaboration efficiency. Based on a fascination for bio-inspired technology in general and its application to software specifically, Alessandro is working on socio-technical systems as well, and currently applies this to the design and creation of information management systems for circular economy and sustainability. And Ganesh (Google Scholar) is striving to achieve autonomy in industrial control systems by making system and domain knowledge accessible to the automation agents, with a specific focus on autonomous buildings. 

More autonomous systems might behave in a way that is not so intelligible for their human users, and hard to interpret for other machines - hence, Sanjiv (Google Scholar) works towards explaining contextual influences on the behavior of cyber-physical systems using multimodal scene understanding. Turning more towards people, Damian (Google Scholar) investigates how the behavior of an industrial robot can be adapted to the implicit and explicit responses of humans to promote satisfactory human-robot interactions. Such personalization also features heavily in Jannis' (Google Scholar; Personal Website) research - Jannis studies how ubiquitous personalization systems can make our interactions with our environment more efficient, safer and more inclusive, and how they can be built in a responsible and societally beneficial way. Benefitting individuals and society is also core to Jing (Google Scholar) - her research work is about analytics-based behavior interventions to promote human health, specifically in the fields of nutrition and ambient lighting. 

 

Postdoctoral Researchers

Kim (Google Scholar) designs and studies systems that we refer to as Digital Companions; these are created to assist and protect their users while being aware of their privacy, and Kim uses a combination of machine-learning systems and symbolic approaches such as Knowledge Graphs in neuro-symbolic ensembles to achieve this. And Kenan (Google Scholar) brings in the human eye - quite literally, as since his PhD and during his postdoctoral studies he has been using eye tracking as an interaction mechanism and to study the workload of operators in human-robot interactions. All our work interacts with society, and societal processes, and hence regulation is a cross-cutting aspect - Clement (Google Scholar) brings in this dimension: He investigates the extent to which regulations (standards, laws, etc.) can and should be turned into an automatically processable format, for instance to automate compliance or facilitate their comprehension via querying possibilities.

Finally, our group is comprised of Andrei and Simon. Andrei (Google Scholar) is Assistant Professor for Web-based Systems and his research focuses on designing a new class of Web-based multi-agent systems (MAS) that inherit the architectural properties of the Web, preserve the properties of MAS, and are human-centric. And Simon (Google Scholar) is fascinated by the integration of concepts and approaches from across the fields of pervasive computing, hypermedia, human-computer interaction, and embedded systems to realize ideal interfaces between machines and animals.

To support bringing our research to practice, Lukas is our team's Research Entrepreneur - he is interested in exploring the commercial potential of newly emerging technologies and is particularly engaged in the fields of robotics (see Understanding Robots) and applications in the field of health care. And Jan is a software developer who maintains our lab's infrastructure and supports other team members in their research work wherever possible.

 

Come Visit Us!

We regularly welcome student research assistants from the University of St.Gallen and from international collaborators in our group each year, who support the ongoing projects in our group, often while working on their thesis projects.

 

And who has been a member in the past?

Since the creation of our group in the year 2018, we were privileged to have already had many short-term visitors. And there are also several colleagues who have left us again to take up their next (academic) challenge. These include Andres Gómez (Google Scholar, Personal Website) who is today an Associate Professor of Reliable Software and Hardware Systems at the Technical University of Braunschweig's Institute of Computer and Network Engineering.

Our Teaching

The Chair of Interaction- and Communication-based Systems offers a series of challenging but rewarding courses on the topics of Ubiquitous Computing and Web-based Autonomous Systems as well as introductory courses to Computer Systems, Computer Networks, Distributed Systems, and to Computer Science more broadly.

In Autumn Semesters, we offer these courses:

In Spring Semesters, we offer these courses:

 

Your Thesis At Our Group

We are always looking for motivated students who would like to write their thesis at our group!
See the topics below for currently available thesis topics.

If you have a topic in mind that is not listed here, feel free to contact Simon (simon.mayerunisg.ch)!

The personalization of an interface in Mixed Reality (MR) can be very beneficial for users since it, e.g., enables them to use the interface based on their abilities and capabilities, or to interact more efficiently. Personalization describes the adaptation of a system based on personal data (e.g, demographics, level of expertise, real-time physiological data, user context data). For instance, to control a robotic arm in a human-robot collaboration scenario, an expert user could see a more complex interface with more fine-grained control options than a novice user. Additionally, the interface might be adapted based on their preferred language, current cognitive state, or the task they are currently performing. However, users might not know why the interface is adapted, if they are not informed about it in a well-designed manner. Especially when many parameters are part of the personalization, it can be challenging to design an appropriate interface that does not lead to an increased cognitive load for users. Therefore, we are interested in studying how users can be informed transparently about why and how an interface has been personalized for them, to increase their trust in the system and potentially to let users adapt the personalization parameters.

In this project, you will:

  • Review existing approaches for informing users transparently about why and how an (MR) interface has been personalized for them
  • Design and create mock-ups of these interface designs (e.g., using Figma or Penpot)
  • Conduct and evaluate in person and online surveys to measure people’s preferred design(s) based on the created mock-ups
  • Implement the preferred designs (based on the survey results) of transparent personalization communication in an MR application for the Microsoft HoloLens 2 using Unity
  • Conduct and evaluate a user study to measure people’s preferred design(s) in one or multiple concrete scenarios

If you are a Master's student, you will additionally:

  • Additionally implement options for users to adapt the personalization parameters ("customization").
  • Conduct and evaluate a user study to evaluate the transparent design and the adaption of personalization parameters.

This project is great for you, if you are:

  • Strongly interested or familiar in designing Mixed/Augmented Reality interfaces
  • Familiar with visual design tools (e.g., Adobe Photoshop, Figma, Penpot, or Affinity Designer)
  • Interested in Personalization, Transparency & Technology
  • Interested in participating in state of the art research
  • Interested in publishing your research work in academic venues
  • An excellent communicator in English

Reach out if you are interested!

Jannis Strecker jannisrene.streckerunisg.ch

 

Are you interested in digital health and market research? We offer the possibility of empirically conducting market research and strategic planning for a nutrition-related start-up. The master thesis should develop a scientifically sound and comprehensive concept for the start-up’s business plan. The details about the start-up will be communicated to the student doing the thesis.  

What will you do?

  1. Identify target market segments and market size
  2. Analyze the competitive landscape
  3. Assess market trends and opportunities
  4. Evaluate user needs and preferences
  5. Develop a strategic business plan

Why join us?

  1. Work on a project at the intersection of health, technology, and market research.
  2. Real-world impact: Your research will directly influence the development and success of a start-up.
  3. Professional development: Gain valuable experience in market research methodologies, data analysis, and strategic planning.
  4. Supportive environment: Collaborate with a team of experienced professionals and mentors who are dedicated to your success.

Who are we looking for?

  • Strongly interested in the business side of digital health
  • Interested in participating in state-of-the-art research
  • Interested in publishing your research work in academic venues
  • Proficient in English and German

Contact Information
For more information, please contact Jing Wu at jing.wuunisg.ch

Application Deadline
25/07/2024

In an increasingly ubiquitous environment we are surrounded by smart devices processing (personal) data about us. We see the trend of smartification of environments growing not only in industrial settings but also in educational spaces and at home. While some of these devices we have consented to the data processing, other devices we interact with (e.g., smart speakers) process data without our explicit consent; and even when consent to the data processing is given, multiple studies have shown the fallacies of equating consent with user empowerment and control. This project aims at exploring means for users of IoT devices to detect privacy threats and act upon them. We propose to use visual means (object detection) to find IoT devices in an environment, analyze their W3C Web of Things Thing Description (WoT TD) to detect those functionalities that might be threatening for different types of users (less and most privacy concerned); and use Mixed Reality (or automated means) to provide users with options to act upon.

In this project, you will:

  • Find a taxonomy in related literature that maps IoT devices capabilities with privacy risks.
  • Enrich TDs with privacy awareness notices.
  • Build a prototype for the Microsoft HoloLens 2 using Unity and MRTK3.
  • Use object detection to identify objects in a room and access their TDs.
  • Conduct a user study about users’ preferences on when to configure Iot devices manually, hybrid or automatically.
  • Investigate how to deal with bystander privacy in this context.
  • Connect other legal rights (e.g., "right to be forgotten") to the prototype.

This project is great for you, if you are:

  • Strongly interested or familiar in designing Mixed Reality interfaces in an IoT context
  • Interested in Privacy, Regulation & Technology
  • Interested in participating in state of the art research
  • Interested in publishing your research work in academic venues
  • An excellent communicator in English

Reach out if you are interested!

Jannis Strecker: jannisrene.streckerunisg.ch
Kimberly Garcia: kimberly.garciaunisg.ch

 

Team

Jan Liam Albert

Software Engineer

ICS-HSG
Rosenberstrasse 30

9000 St Gallen

Kenan Bektas

Dr.

Postdoctoral Researcher

ICS-HSG
Rosenbergstrasse 30

9000 St. Gallen

Andrei Ciortea

Prof. Dr.

Assistant Professor

ICS-HSG
Büro 61-406
Rosenberstrasse 30
9000 St. Gallen

Kimberly Garcia

PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

ICS-HSG
Rosenbergstrasse 30

9000 St Gallen

Alessandro Giugno

M.Eng.

Research Assistant

ICS-HSG
Rosenbergstrasse 30

9000 St Gallen

Clement Guitton

Dr.

Postdoctoral Researcher

ICS-HSG
Rosenbergstrasse 30

9000 St Gallen

Sanjiv Jha

M.Sc.

Research Assistant

ICS-HSG
Büro 61-402
Rosenberstrasse 30
9000 St. Gallen

Simon Mayer

Prof. Dr.

Full Professor, Interaction and Communication based Systems

ICS-HSG, Chair for Interaction- and Communication-based Systems
Büro 61-410
Rosenbergstrasse 30
9000 St. Gallen

Ganesh Ramanathan

M.Sc.

Research Assistant (external)

Jannis Rene Strecker

M.Sc.

Research Assistant

Institute of Computer Science (ICS-HSG)
Rosenbergstrasse 30

9000 St Gallen

Aurelia Tamo-Larrieux

Dr.

Research Associate

FAA-HSG
Müller-Friedberg-Strasse 6/8

9000 St. Gallen

Danai Vachtsevanou

M.Sc.

Research Assistant, Hypermedia Multi-agent Systems

ICS-HSG
Büro 52-406
Rosenberstrasse 30
9000 St. Gallen

Jing Wu

M.Sc.

Research Assistant

ICS-HSG
Büro 61-406
Rosenberstrasse 30
9000 St Gallen

Publications

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