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Research positions available

The Intelligible Interactive Systems research unit at Hasselt University (UHasselt) – Expertise Centre for Digital Media (EDM) conducts research in uncovering new and interesting ways to interact with complex computing systems and computing systems using some type of embedded intelligence (e.g. machine learning). We are also part of the Data Intelligence and Computation research unit, where we focus on interaction with complex data, data processing algorithms and data visualisation.

Within this scope we work, amongst others, on user interface software and technologies, interface design tools, engineering processes for building complex systems, human-robot interaction, intelligent and distributed user interfaces, and virtual, augmented and mixed reality solutions. We are a Flanders Make core lab and through this framework we try to help Flemish industry to innovate. We are also part of the Flemish AI Initiative and are involved in “Grand Challenge 4: Human-like AI”.

We adhere to the principle of combining Applied and Basic research (the ABC principle as coined by Ben Schneiderman in his book The New ABCs of Research: Achieving Breakthrough Collaborations). We aim at high impact research in top-tier technical venues of HCI and valorize work via spinoffs and licenses. Our research work often cross the boundaries of several domains, including computer science, design, physics, and various types of engineering. Research is often done in collaboration with other research units at EDM.


We have PhD positions and research internships available within our research unit. Contact me and apply through our university website here:

The topic of the PhD will be discussed together with the candidate but will be aligned with the research focus of the research unit. Fully-funded PhD position for a period of 2+2years. A positive evaluation is needed after two years to start the next period. Candidates get the opportunity and are encouraged to do at least one international internship during the PhD.


The candidate has (or will have in the near future) a master degree in computer science, civil engineering, or equivalent. As our group conducts technical research in HCI, strong technical skills are required and a specialization in HCI is desired. Candidates have to be motivated to progress the state of the art, open for collaboration with others, be able to adopt new skills quickly, have an independent work style, and value and contribute to a work environment that is stimulating and fun.

Some examples of our previous work

UHasselt-iMinds-EDM HCI research at CHI’2016

We’ll present some of our most recent HCI research at the 34rd ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’2016 aka CHI4good) in San José. Topics span an exploration of the peripheral view, fabrication for “hacking” existing physical interfaces and various topics related to geography and computing.

List of full papers and note at the conference:

Workshop co-organisation

Johannes Schöning is co-organizing two workshops: * NatureCHI: Unobtrusive User Experiences with Technology in Nature. * Cross-Surface: Challenges and Opportunities for ‘bring your own device’ in the wild.

Other contributions


  • You Can Touch This: Eleven Years and 258218 Images of Objects. Nina Runge, Johannes Schöning, Rainer Malaka & Alberto Frigo

Late-Breaking Work

  • ReHappy – The House Elf that serves your Rehabilitation Exercises. Karin Coninx, Tom De Weyer, Ryanne Lemmens & Kris Luyten
  • Purpose-Centric Appropriation of Everyday Objects as Game Controllers. Kashyap Todi, Donald Degraen, Brent Berghmans, Axel Faes, Matthijs Kaminski & Kris Luyten


In addition to the contributions above, one demo will be featured at the Interactivity venue.

UHasselt-iMinds-EDM HCI research at CHI’2015

UHasselt-iMinds HCI research at CHI’2015

The UHasselt-iMinds HCI researchers of the Expertise Centre for Digital Media will present a selection of their ongoing HCI research at the 33rd ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’2015). Two full conference papers and one note were accepted for the highly competitive papers and notes track, the main archival track of CHI. Our work this year discusses, amongst other things, end-user development of interactive paper using printed electronics, social signal processing techniques to improve presentation skills, a new approach for private online communication, new work on space usage rules, interaction with smartwatches and end-user fabrication for smart homes.

In addition to these papers, our lab will present one alt.chi contribution, two Work-In-Progress papers, five workshop contributions and we’ll have a setup at the interactivity venue.

List of full papers and notes at the conference:

  • You Can’t Smoke Here: Towards Support for Space Usage Rules in Location-aware TechnologiesPavel Samsonov, Xun Tang, Johannes Schöning, Werner Kuhn, Brent Hecht.

    — Recent work has identified the lack of space usage rule (SUR) data – e.g. “no smoking”, “no campfires” – as an important limitation of online/mobile maps that presents risks to user safety and the environment. In order to address this limitation, a large-scale means of mapping SURs must be developed. In this paper, we introduce and motivate the problem of mapping space usage rules and take the first steps towards identifying solutions. We show how computer vision can be employed to identify SUR indicators in the environment (e.g. “No Smoking” signs) with reasonable accuracy and describe techniques that can assign each rule to the appropriate geographic feature.

  • PaperPulse: An Integrated Approach for Embedding Electronics in Paper Designs. Raf Ramakers, Kashyap Todi, Kris Luyten.

    — We present PaperPulse, a design and fabrication approach that enables designers without a technical background to produce standalone interactive paper artifacts by augmenting them with electronics. With PaperPulse, designers overlay pre-designed visual elements with widgets available in our design tool. PaperPulse provides designers with three families of widgets designed for smooth integration with paper, for an overall of 20 different interactive components. We also contribute a logic demonstration and recording approach, Pulsation, that allows for specifying functional relationships between widgets. Using the final design and the recorded Pulsation logic, PaperPulse generates layered electronic circuit designs, and code that can be deployed on a microcontroller. By following automatically generated assembly instructions, designers can seamlessly integrate the microcontroller and widgets in the final paper artifact.

  • Augmenting Social Interactions: Realtime Behavioural Feedback using Social Signal Processing Techniques. Ionut Damian, Chiew Seng Sean Tan, Tobias Baur, Johannes Schöning, Kris Luyten, Elisabeth André.

    — Nonverbal and unconscious behaviour is an important component of daily human-human interaction. This is especially true in situations such as public speaking, job interviews or information sensitive conversations, where researchers have shown that an increased awareness of one’s behaviour can improve the outcome of the interaction. With wearable technology, such as Google Glass, we now have the opportunity to augment social interactions and provide realtime feedback on one’s behaviour in an unobtrusive way. In this paper we present Logue, a system that provides realtime feedback on the presenters’ openness, body energy and speech rate during public speaking. The system analyses the user’s nonverbal behaviour using social signal processing techniques and gives visual feedback on a head-mounted display. We conducted two user studies with a staged and a real presentation scenario which yielded that Logue’s feedback was perceived helpful and had a positive impact on the speaker’s performance.

Alt.chi, Work-in-Progress and Interactivity

  • Captchat: A Messaging Tool to Frustrate Ubiquitous Surveillance. Paul Dunphy, Johannes Schöning, James Nicholson and Patrick Olivier. alt.CHI 2015.

  • WatchMe: A Novel Input Method Combining a Smartwatch and Bimanual Interaction. Wouter Van Vlaenderen, Jens Brulmans, Jo Vermeulen, Johannes Schöning. CHI EA 2015 (Work-in-Progress).

  • A User Interface for Encoding Space Usage Rules Expressed in Natural Language. Pavel Samsonov, Johannes Schöning, Brent Hecht. CHI EA 2015 (Work-in-Progress).

  • PaperPulse: An Integrated Approach to Making Interactive Paper. Raf Ramakers, Kashyap Todi, Kris Luyten. CHI EA 2015 (Interactivity).

Workshop Contributions

  • Supporting Social and Adaptive Interaction in Collaborative Rehabilitation Training. Johanna Octavia Renny, Karin Coninx, Asian CHI Symposium 2015 — Crossing HCI for Development in Asia Pacific.

  • From Automatic Sign Detection To Space Usage Rules Mining For Autonomous Driving. Pavel Samsonov, Brent Hecht, Johannes Schöning, CHI 2015 Workshop on Experiencing Autonomous Vehicles: Crossing the Boundaries between a Drive and a Ride.

  • ShareABeat: Augmenting Media Shared Through Social Platforms with Empathic Annotations. Debbie Gijsbrecht, Stein Smeets, Jacqueline Galeazzi, Juan José Martín Miralles, Jo Vermeulen and Johannes Schöning, CHI 2015 Workshop on Mobile Collocated Interactions: From Smartphones to Wearables.

  • Making Smart Homes personal: Fabrication and Customisation of Home Interfaces. Kashyap Todi, Kris Luyten, Andrew Vande Moere, CHI 2015 Workshop on Designing Smart Home Technologies that Evolve with Users – Smart for Life.

  • An End-User Development Approach for Designers to create Interactive Paper, Raf Ramakers, Kashyap Todi, Kris Luyten, CHI 2015 Workshop on End User Development in the Internet of Things Era.

Several contributions are co-authored with HCI master students that took part in our course “Trends in HCI” (Actuele trends in HCI) at Hasselt University (which is taught by prof. dr. Johannes Schöning). Congrats to these students: Wouter Van Vlaenderen, Jens Brulmans, Debbie Gijsbrecht, Stein Smeets and Erasmus students Jacqueline Galeazzi and Juan José Martín Miralles!

DIS 2014

UHasselt-iMinds-EDM contributes (to) four papers at DIS 2014 covering design aspects of proxemics and mobile systems:

We also tried to submit a pictorial on making informed decisions on using (mobile) technology in museums, but it appears that reviewers expected more and I didn’t really grasp the concept of a Pictorial very well apparently. Nevertheless, we decided to share it anyway and hope it can be useful for some: Karel Robert, Kris Luyten, Jo Vermeulen and Karin Coninx. Introducing Technology in Museums: How to Start?.

UHasselt-iMinds-EDM at CHI 2014

UHasselt-iMinds HCI research at CHI’2014

The UHasselt-iMinds HCI researchers of the Expertise Centre for Digital Media will present a selection of their ongoing HCI research at the 32st ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’2014). Four full conference papers were accepted for the highly competitive papers and notes track, the main archival track of CHI. Our work discusses tangible, affective and mid-air gesture-based interactions and contributes to creating more natural user interfaces that approach how we interact in real life.

At the conference we will present Paddle, the first prototype of a highly deformable mobile device that can be transformed into various special-purpose controls in order to bring physical controls to mobile devices. We will show what the effect is of a simple visualisation of participants stress during video-mediated collaboration and we hope future video-based collaboration systems can make use of such enhancements. We also present a study of how people interact with omni-directional video, a video format that we expect to become increasingly popular in the near future. As part of an internship and an intense collaboration of one of our PhD students with researchers at the Hasso Plattner Institute, Kickables will be introduced at the conference: the concept of tangibles that users can manipulate with their feet.

Besides these four papers our lab contributed to, Kashyap Todi — who just recently joined our team as a PhD student — co-authored a paper on Understanding Finger Input Above Desktop Devices while being at the Media Computing group at RWTH Aachen.

In addition to these full papers, our lab will present: a gamified version of our augmented piano setup at the interactivity venue, an initial exploration of interactive jacket buttons as an interactive poster, workshop papers on using heartbeats as explicit input and on help systems for gesture-based collaborative systems and a contribution to the alt.chi paper on Speculative Research Visions.

List of full papers at the conference:

  • Investigating the Effects of using Biofeedback as Visual Stress Indicator during Video-mediated CollaborationChiew Seng Sean Tan, Kris Luyten, Johannes Schöning, Karin Coninx.

    — This paper presents a thorough investigation on mental workload and stress perceived by twenty participants, paired up in an instructor-worker scenario, performing remote video-mediated tasks. The interface conditions differ in task, facial and biofeedback communication. Two self-report measures are used to assess mental workload and stress. Results show that pairs reported lower mental workload and stress when instructors are using the biofeedback as compared to using interfaces with facial view.

  • Multi-Viewer Gesture-Based Interaction for Omni-Directional Video, Gustavo Rovelo Ruiz (Hasselt University & Universitat Politècnica de València), Davy Vanacken, Kris Luyten, Francisco Abad (Universitat Politècnica de València), Emilio Camahort (Universitat Politècnica de València).

    — We present a gesture elicitation study in which we asked users to perform mid-air gestures that they consider to be appropriate for Omni-Directional Video (ODV) interaction, both for individual as well as collocated settings. We are interested in the gesture variations and adaptations that come forth from individual and collocated usage.

  • Paddle: Highly Deformable Mobile Devices with Physical Controls, Raf Ramakers, Johannes Schöning, Kris Luyten.

    — We present the concept of highly deformable mobile devices that can be transformed into various special-purpose controls in order to bring physical controls to mobile devices. Physical controls have the advantage of exploiting people’s innate abilities for manipulating physical objects in the real world. We designed and implemented a prototype, called Paddle, to demonstrate our concept.

  • Kickables: Tangibles for FeetDominik Schmidt (Hasso Plattner Institute), Raf RamakersEsben Pedersen (University of Copenhagen), Johannes Jasper (Hasso Plattner Institute), Sven Köhler (Hasso Plattner Institute), Aileen Pohl (Hasso Plattner Institute), Hannes Rantzsch (Hasso Plattner Institute), Andreas Rau (Hasso Plattner Institute), Patrick Schmidt (Hasso Plattner Institute), Christoph Sterz (Hasso Plattner Institute), Yanina Yurchenko (Hasso Plattner Institute), Patrick Baudisch (Hasso Plattner Institute).

    — We introduce the concept of tangibles that users can manipulate with their feet. We call them kickables. Unlike traditional tangibles, kickables allow for very large interaction surfaces as kickables reside on the ground.

The future of software tools to support collaborative design

As part of a European research project COnCEPT, we are conducting a survey on the professional practices of designers. Our aim is to develop a set of software tools designed to support remote collaboration among the members of professional design teams. If you are involved in any type of design, please respond to our survey at which should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Respondents of the survey can win a gift certificate and will be informed about the project as it develops.