HMI Student Assignments

If you as a bachelor or master student are looking for a final thesis assignment, capita selecta, research topic, or internship, you can choose between a large number of internal (at HMI) or external (at a company, research institute, or user organisation) assigments. You can also choose to create one yourself. Searching a suitable location or a suitable topic often starts here: below you find a number of topics you can work on.  

Note that in preparation for a final MSc assignment you must carry out a Research Topics resulting in a final project proposal. For Research Topics, you need to hand in this form to the bureau of educational affairs (BOZ).

ASSIGNMENTS AND TOPICS THAT CAN BE CARRIED OUT INTERNALLY AT HMI

CHATBOTS FOR HEALTHCARE – THE eCG FAMILY CLINIC @ HMI - Enschede, NL in cooperation with UMCU - Utrecht, NL

In collaboration with Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht we will design and develop the eCG family clinic: the electronic Cardiovascular Genetic family clinic to facilitate genetic screening in family members. In inherited cardiovascular diseases, first-degree relatives are at 50% risk of inheriting the disease-causing mutation. For these diseases, preventive measures and treatment options are readily available and effective. Relatives may undergo predictive DNA testing to find out whether they carry the mutation. More than half of at-risk relatives do not attend genetic counselling and/or cardiac evaluation.

In order to increase the group of people that will attend the genetic counseling and/or cardiac evaluation the eCG family clinic will be developed. eCG Family Clinic is an online platform where family members are provided with general information (e.g. on the specific family disease, mode of inheritance, pros and cons of genetic testing and the testing procedure). The users of the platform will be able to interact with a chatbot.

Within this research project we have student assignments available such as:
·       Designing and developing of a chatbot and its functions and roles within the platform
·       Translating current treatment protocols into prototypes of the chatbot
·       Evaluating user experience and user satisfaction

We are open for alternative assignments or perspectives on the example assignments above.

Contact person: Randy Klaassen, r.klaassen@utwente.nl

Smart Information System for Ethics Assessments @ HMI - Enschede, NL

Whenever we do research with humans, we have to deal with consent forms, Ethics Committee assessment requests, and related things. For people who are not very familiar with the procedures and rules this process can be daunting; even though often it should only take 2 minutes to figure everything out, the maze of information causes people to struggle when navigating this task.

Over the past month, we have been developing prototype information bundles that should help people do this taks quicker as well as with higher quality. In this assignment you will turn this information bundle into an smart interactive interface that helps people carry out their Ethics Assessment request, including building consent forms and information brochures that are complete and concise. Initial steps have already been taken; a illustrative prototype has been developed in an earlier student project. Next steps involve an in depth validation of the problem statement (clarifying the actual form in which researchers and students struggle with parts of the process), turning the illustrative prototype into a usable and flexible tool, and validating the tool with students and researchers who have to carry out research in various domains.

This assignment lends itself well to a BSc or MSc thesis.

contact person: Dennis Reidsma

Touch Interactions and Haptics @ HMI - Enschede, NL

In daily life, we use our sense of touch to interact with the world and everything in it. Yet, in Human-Computer Interaction, the sense of touch is somewhat underexposed; in particular when compared with the visual and auditory modalities. To advance the use of our sense of touch in HCI, we have defined three broad themes in which several assignments (Capita Selecta, Research Topics, Graduation Projects) can be defined. 

Designing haptic interfaces

Many devices use basic vibration motors to provide feedback. While such motors are easy to work with and sufficient for certain applications, the advances in current manufacturing technologies (e.g. 3D printing) and in electronics provide opportunities for creating new forms of haptic feedback. Innovative forms of haptic feedback may even open up complete new application domains. The challenge for the students is twofold: 1.) Exploring the opportunities and limitations of (combinations of) materials, textures, and (self-made) actuators, and 2.) coming up with potential use cases.

Multimodal perception of touch

The experience of haptic feedback may not only be governed by what is sensed through the skin, but may also be influenced by other modalities; in particular by the visual modality. VR and AR technologies are prime candidates for studying touch perception, and haptic feedback is even considered ‘the holy grail’ for VR. Questions surrounding for instance body ownership in VR, or visuo-haptic illusions in VR (e.g. elongated arms, a third arm) can be interesting starting points for developing valuable multimodal experiences, and for studying the multimodal perception of touch.

Touch as a social cue

Research in psychology has shown that social touch (i.e. being touched by another person) can profoundly influence both the toucher and the recipient of a touch (e.g. decreasing stress, motivating, or showing affect). Current technologies for remote communication could potentially be enriched by adding haptic technology that allows for social touch interactions to take place over a distance. In addition, with social robots becoming more commonplace in both research and everyday life, the question arises how we should engage in social touch with such social robots in a beneficial, appropriate and safe manner. Applications of social touch technology can range from applications related to training and coaching, to entertainment, and to providing care and intimacy. Potential projects in this domain could focus on the development of new forms of social touch technology (interactions), and/or on the empirical investigation of the effects such artificial social touch interactions can have on people.

Contact: Dirk Heylen

Wearables and tangibles assisting young adults with autism in independent living @ IDE - Enschede, NL

In this project we seek socially capable and technically smart students with interest in technology and health care to investigate how physical-digital technology may support young adults with autism (age 17-22) developing independence in daily living. In this project we build  further on insights from earlier projects such as Dynamic Balance and MyDayLight.

(see more about both projects here: http://www.jellevandijk.org/embodiedempowerment/ )

Your assignment is to engage in participatory design in order to conceptualize, prototype and evaluate a new assistive product concept, together with young adults with autism, their parents, and health professionals. You can focus more on the design of concepts, the prototyping of concepts, technological work on building an adaptive flexible platform that can be personalized by each individual user, or working on developing the ‘co-design’ methods we use with young adults with autism, their parents, and the care professionals.

As a starting point we consider opportunities of wearables with bio-sensing in combination with ambient intelligent objects (internet-of-things e.g. interactive light, ambient audio) in the home.

The project forms part of a research collaboration with Karakter, a large youth psychiatric health organization and various related organizations, who will provide participating families. One goal is to present a proof-of-concept of a promising assistive device – another goal is to explore the most suitable participatory design methods in this use context. Depending on your interests you can focus more on the product or on the method. The ultimate goal of the overall research project is to realize a flexible, adaptive interactive platform that can be tailored to the needs of each individual user – this master project is a first step into that direction.

Contact: jelle.vandijk@utwente.nl

Holodeck: Immersive VR and AR @ HMI - Enschede, NL

What You See Is How It’s Done -- Mixed VR Streaming & Recording for On-Site Support and Training

An invitation to look over the shoulder of an expert (or: having an expert look over your shoulder) is a useful and effective method for receiving assistance or tutoring. One gets to take the experts perspective while he/she is demonstrating how to solve a problem or perform a task, with the subject matter in front of both the expert and the learner. Or when roles are reversed, the expert can give feedback to the learners approach while he or she is actively engaged with the problem.

However, there are situations where this form of tutoring cannot be provided. There may not be enough experts for all learners, or the expert may not be able to be at the same location as a person requiring assistance.

One possible solution here is technology that allows one to be present at one or more remote locations at the same time: Telepresence. With our system, we look to explore the look over someone's shoulder as a design pattern for developing a new generation of such telepresence systems specifically for remote assistance and training of “hands-on” tasks. Think of bomb-defusing, archeological digging, doing repairs on an oil-rig or simply learning how to cook pancakes.

The setup we envisage, and for which a prototype is already being developed, consists of two main components. First, the “on-site kit”, consisting of a number of depth sensors and an Augmented Reality Wearable (Microsoft HoloLens). The sensors record and stream (in 3D) the environment of the user, who performs a task in that environment, to a remote viewer (or someone who reviews the recordings at a later time). The remote viewer uses the “remote kit”, consisting only of a common VR system such as the HTC Vive. With it, the recorded or streamed environment can be freely navigated. There is a voice connection between the two and there is the capability to perform (live) annotation in the environment.

With such a system, we can record and stream an expert performing a task using the on-site kit, with multiple learners looking over his or her shoulder at the same time using the remote kit. On the other hand, an expert could also use the remote kit to look over the shoulder of a novice in need of assistance with an on-site kit (think the bomb-defusal scenario).

There are several research challenges for students to work on within this context. On the one hand, there are computer vision & graphics oriented challenges to improve the performance of the streamed data and the visual quality of reconstructed scenes. On the other hand, there are questions on the user interface and experience of such a system, as well as on the evaluation given a scenario.

If you’re interested, get in contact with Dennis Reidsma <d.reidsma@utwente.nl

Interactive Surfaces and Tangibles for Creative Storytelling @ HMI - Enschede, NL

In the research project coBOTnity a collection of affordable robots (called surface-bots) was developed for use in collaborative creative storytelling. Surfacebots are moving tablets embodying a virtual character. Using a moving tablet allows us to show a digital representation of the character’s facial expressions and intentions on screen while also allowing it to move around in a physical play area. 

The surfacebots offer diverse student assignment opportunities in the form of Capita Selecta, HMI project, BSc Research or Design project, or MSc thesis research. These assignments can deal with technology development aspects, empirical studies evaluating the effectiveness of some existing component, or a balance of both types of work (technology development + evaluation).

Just as a sample of what could be done in these assignments, but not limited to, students could be interested in developing new AI for the surfacebot to become more intelligent and responsive in the interactive space, studying interactive storytelling with surfacebots, developing mechanisms to orchestrate multiple surfacebots as an expression means (e.g. to tell a story), evaluating strategies to make the use of surfacebots more effective, developing and evaluating an application to support users’ creativity/learning, etc.

You can find more information about the coBOTnity project at: https://www.utwente.nl/ewi/hmi/cobotnity/

Contact: Mariët Theune (m.theune@utwente.nl)

Interpersonal engagement in human-robot relations @ HMI - Enschede, NL

Modern media technology enables people to have social interactions with the technology itself. Robots are a new form of media that people can communicate with as independent entities. Although robots are becoming naturalized in social roles involving companionship, customer service and education, little is known about the extent to which people can feel interpersonal closeness with robots and how social norms around close personal acts apply to robots. What behaviors do people feel comfortable to engage in with robots that have different types of social roles, like companion robot, customer service robot and teacher robot? Will robots that people can touch, talk to, lead and follow result in social acceptance of behaviors that express interpersonal closeness between a person and a robot? Are such behaviors intrinsically rewarding when done with a responsive robot?

Contact: Jamy Li

Social robotics for autistic children @ HMI - Enschede, NL

Using a robot to teach autistic children social skills can be a fun way of doing so. Robots are after all novel and exciting, and give the child certain bragging rights afterwards. However, there might be some unique reasons why robots are particularly useful to autistic children that go beyond this superficial novelty.

Children on the autism spectrum are characterized with having difficulties in social communication and interaction, and show repetitive stereotyped behaviour. They may talk to Siri about the weather day in and day out, fascinated about Siri’s knowledge and ability to answer the same question over and over again. The deficits in social communication and interaction may mean that these children have difficulties understanding another’s emotions and how their behaviour affects others. Some autistic children will avoid eye-contact or are unable to communicate verbally. These are just some examples of what kind of behaviour to expect – the user group is notoriously heterogenic.

While social interaction can be very difficult for autistic children, which they often try to avoid, they do interact socially with robots. One explanation of why autistic children respond well to robots, is that robots can be very predictable in their behaviour, unlike humans. The robot can answer the same question over and over again, and always respond in the same manner. It doesn’t have all the, sometimes frightening, complexities of interacting with another human. But autistic children can interact with the robot in a similar manner as how we interact with another human being. Could it be that a robot can provide these children with a safe, more understandable, and less stressful environment for them to learn social skills? If so, how can we design an intervention with a robot where the children can learn social skills? How do we improve the robot’s technical systems so that it can respond to the special needs of autistic children?

Assignments in this area can include, but is not limited to (!):

  • designing interactive games with the robot.
  • interface design for therapist and/or child.
  • studying why these children perceive and respond to robots differently.
  • developing technical systems for the robot.

For more information, look at http://de-enigma.eu/

Contact: Bob Schadenberg

Smart Sport Exercises: Interaction Technology for Digital-Physical Sports Training @ HMI - Enschede, NL

The proposed project focuses on new forms of (volleyball) sports training. Athletes perform training exercises in a “smart sports hall” that provides high quality video display across the surface of the playing field and has unobtrusive pressure sensors embedded in the floor. A digital-physical training system offers tailored, interactive exercise activities. Exercises incorporate visual feedback from the trainer as well as feedback given by the system. They can be tailored through a combination of selection of the most fitting exercises and setting the right parameters. This allows the exercises to be adapted in real time in response to the team’s behaviour and performance, and to be selected and parameterized fitting to their levels of competition and to demands of, e.g., youth sport. To this end, expertise from the domains of embodied gaming and instruction and pedagogy in sports training are combined. Computational models are developed for the automatic management of personalization and adaptation; initial validation of such models is done by repeatedly evaluating versions of the system with volleyball teams of various levels. We collect, and automatically analyse, data from the sensors to build continuous models of the behaviour of individual athletes as well as the team. Based on this data, the trainer or system can instantly decide to change the ongoing exercises, or provide visual feedback to the team via the floor display. In extrapolation, we foresee future development towards higher competition performance for teams, by building upon the basic principles and systems developed in this project. 

Assignments in this project can be done on user studies, automatic behaviour detection from sensors, novel interactive exercise design, and any other topic.

Contact person: Dees Postma, d.b.w.postma@utwente.nl

Supporting Healthy Eating @ HMI - Enschede, NL

Your eating behavior affects your health. We all know it by now. Not only the type of food you consume is important, but certainly also the quantity of the food, the timing of food intake throughout the day, and the speed with which a meal is eaten. The Global Burden of Disease study showed that a suboptimal diet is the second-leading risk factor for disability-adjusted life years and deaths worldwide. This number could drastically decrease when attention is paid to a balanced diet.

However, following a balanced diet is not without challenges: Choosing balanced ingredients and meal sizes is a difficult task in itself. Moreover, we are living in a social society were food is often consumed together with others; where food is available at every street corner; and where food is intertwined with celebrations or events. Making healthy diet choices therefore requires more than knowledge about choosing the right ingredients; it also requires motivation to make lifestyle changes and support of your social group (family, friends, colleagues) in order to maintain these lifestyle changes.

The broadness of the healthy eating theme is reflected in the amount of the assignments that can be formulated around this theme. Below are examples of assignments that you can think of, but many more are possible. Assignments can both be formulated at BSc and MSc level.

Gaining insight into the current eating behavior of a subject often is a first step in accomplishing better health. Professionals still use conventional methods, such as the use of logbooks, for this. They ask the user to manually report on their eating behavior throughout the day. Memory and logging bias are not uncommon factors associated with this method. Often, users simply forget to write down what and when they have been eating. Also, the presence of unknown ingredients in the food, difficulties in estimating portion size or social discomfort while logging the food affect the reliability of this method.

A different approach to lower the logging bias is to use technology that is less tedious in use, compared to the conventional manual logging method. Designing new interventions that engage the user in their reporting task and increase compliance might be a suitable approach for this. Combining different sensors or devices (placed on the body, in a room or in cooking gear) might be one way to do it, and adding a gaming element to the intervention might be another.

Other elements to consider adjusting are the context of the communication: who (what is the relationship with the sender) - says what (what is the content of the message) - in which channel (how is this message communicated)- to whom (who is the receiver of the message) – when (what is the timing of the message) – where (what is the location of the receiver) – how (what is the style of the message) - and with what effect (how does the message come across)?

Lastly, interventions can also be designed to try to influence eating behavior directly: behavior change interventions. Think of interventions and interactive technology that directly inform the user of their unhealthy diet choices (feedback on shopping list), or that indirectly influence the user (smaller portions). To increase engagement and compliance with the interventions, similar approaches can also be taken as explained above, such as adding gaming elements or changing the context of the communication.

Assignments can focus on one area in particular (technology development, behavior change interventions, etc), or on a combination of domains. Assignments can be made suitable to your specific backgrounds and interests. Please feel free to contact us to hear about the possibilities:

Contact: Juliet Haarman j.a.m.haarman@utwente.nl or Roelof de Vries r.a.j.devries@utwente.nl

Agri-tech: robotic/ambient/IoT interfaces and social media @ HMI - Enschede, NL

Usability guidelines have been developed for agricultural robot sprayers (Adamides et al., 2017) but not for other advanced robots such as weed handling robots, high-wire cultivation robots or data collection robots. Designing usability guidelines for these types of systems is pertinent with the growing importance of such systems (cf. Shamshiri et al., 2018). Past usability studies on agricultural robots have focused on evaluating different types of hardware rather than data presentation, reference data and how the system fits into the overall farming practice, the latter being important issues for designing new technology interfaces for farmers (Monferrer and Bonyuet, 2002; Nurkka et al., 2007). Intuitive and trustworthy design is particularly important for more advanced agriculture systems. In addition, the psychological wellbeing of farmers in the Netherlands is an area of attention (Schouen, 2018). Linking the data interfaces of high-tech systems to mass media outlets, such as social media has the potential to increase farmer’s welfare and wellbeing by creating greater connectedness to peers and the larger community (Ahn and Shin, 2013).

 

The overall goal of this research line is to provide design principles for multifunctional data interfaces in agriculture work, which should allow the farmer to control media messages in an intuitive way and needs to attenuate the mixed feelings about using social media to communicate about food risks (Rutsaert et al., 2014). This may include identifying current practices, creating new interaction prototypes for agri-tech that integrate social media and robotics/wearable/ambient technology for farming communities.

 

Currently, this project does not have access to a participant pool of farmers. Therefore, the project possibilities could be a literature review of social media technologies that use peripherals and that have been customized to other user groups to obtain insight about how to customize social media technologies to a particular user group, literature and other analyses of agriculture workers to gain insights that could be applied to design of systems for them, and to run a directed design session and/or user study with non-farmers to indicate what they would be interested to learn from farmers through social media.

 Contact person: Jamy Li

Nurkka, P., Norros, L., & Pesonen, L. (2007). Improving usability and user acceptance of information systems in farming. In EFITA/WCCA Joint Congress in IT in Agriculture.

Adamides, G., Katsanos, C., Parmet, Y., Christou, G., Xenos, M., Hadzilacos, T., & Edan, Y. (2017). HRI usability evaluation of interaction modes for a teleoperated agricultural robotic sprayer. Applied ergonomics, 62, 237-246.

Shamshiri R R, Weltzien C, Hameed I A, Yule I J, Grift T E, Balasundram S K, et al. (2018) Research and development in agricultural robotics: A perspective of digital farming. Int J Agric & Biol Eng, 11(4): 1-14.

Monferrer, A., & Bonyuet, D. (2002). Cooperative robot teleoperation through virtual reality interfaces. In Proceedings Sixth International Conference on Information Visualisation (pp. 243-248). IEEE.

Rutsaert, P., Pieniak, Z., Regan, Á., McConnon, Á., Kuttschreuter, M., Lores, M., ... & Verbeke, W. (2014). Social media as a useful tool in food risk and benefit communication? A strategic orientation approach. Food Policy, 46, 84-93.

Schouen, C. J. (2018). Terugkoppeling van de bijeenkomst inzake hulpverlening aan agrarische ondernemers in crisissituaties. Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (Landbouw, Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit) Brief regering 30252-24. Available: https://www.tweedekamer.nl/kamerstukken/brieven_regering/detail?id=2018Z21383&did=2018D55086

Dialogue and Natural Language Understanding & Generation for Social and Creative Applications @ HMI - Enschede, NL

Applications involving the processing and generation of human language have  become increasingly better and more popular in recent years; think for example of automatic translation and summarization, or of the virtual assistants that are becoming a part of everyday life. However, dealing with the social and creative aspects of human language is still challenging. We can ask our virtual assistant to check the weather, set an alarm or play some music, but we cannot have a meaningful conversation with it about what we want to do with our life. We can feed systems with big data to automatically generate texts such as business reports, but generating an interesting and suspenseful novel is another story.

At HMI we are generally open to supervising different kinds of assignments in the area of dialogue and natural language understanding & generation, but we are specifically interested in research aimed at social and creative applications. Some possible assignment topics are given below.

Conversational agents and social chatbots. The interaction with most current virtual assistants and chatbots (or 'conversational agents') is limited to giving them commands and asking questions. What we want is to develop agents you can have an actual conversation with, and that are interesting to engage with. An important question here is, how can we keep the interaction interesting over a longer period of time? Assignments in this area can include question generation for dialogue (so the agent can show some interest in what you are telling them), story generation for dialogue (so the agent make a relevant contribution to the current conversation topic) and user modeling via dialogue (so the agent can get to know you). The overall goal is to create (virtual) agents that show verbal social behaviours. In the case of embodied agents, such as robots or virtual characters, we are also interested in the accompanying non-verbal social behaviours.

Affective language processing or generation. Emotions are part of everyday language, but detecting emotions in a text, or having the computer produce emotional language, are still challenging tasks. Assignments in this area include sentiment analysis in texts, for Dutch in particular, and generating emotional language in for example the context of games (emotional character dialogue or 'flavor text' as explained above) or in the context of automatically generated soccer reports.

Creative language generation. Here we can think of generating creative language such as puns, jokes, and metaphors but also stories. It is already possible to generate reports from data (for example sports or game-play data) but such reports tend to be boring and factual. How can we give them a more narrative quality with a nice flow, atmosphere, emotions and maybe even some suspense? Instead of generating non-fiction based on real-world data, another area is generating fiction. An example is generating so-called 'flavor text' for use in games. This is text that is not essential to the main game narrative, but creates a feeling of immersion for the player, such as fictional newspaper articles and headlines or fake social media messages related to the game. Another example of fiction generation is the generation of novel-length stories. Here an important challenge is how to keep the story coherent, which is a lot more difficult for long texts than for short ones.

Contact: Mariët Theune (m.theune@utwente.nl)

Explorative applications for Cozmo robot for use by social care professionals @ HMI - Enschede, NL

This thesis project concerns a choice of several topics, namely:

  • explorative development of possible applications for social robots in social care context using the Anki Cozmo robot
  • exploration of the state of the art of teaching robotics to social care students and investigating, through robot codesign activities, how we can support social care professionals in obtaining the necessary skills and attitude to be able to work with social robots in their daily practice
  • exploration of activity design with social robots, in which social care workers (or students) use a simple robot platform with a simple set of behaviours to develop a rich and varied collection of activities for use with their clients.

There are already many examples of applications of social robots in care (eg elderly homes) and often these have been evaluated for their impact on the client. However, a special challenge that is often overlooked is that, when such social robots become common place in social care setting, the care professionals also have to become engaged with these robots. But generally they are not taught in their educational program about robots -- what they are, what they are good for, and what you can do with them. 

This challenge is addressed in the Prospero project ( http://prospero.via.dk/EN ). Besides the practical side of robots in care setting (e.g., lifting robots or medical delivery robots) many examples of social robots are more like "activities that one can do with a client". In this project, we aim to develop a number of activities one can do with a client, supported by a robot. The assignment involves designing the activities as well as the robot behavior and interaction. Based on related work, literature, and discussions with care workers in the Netherlands and Spain (some of the discussions done by the students, some by he researchers in the project) you may develop multiple prototypes of activities with the Anki Cozmo robot and evaluate these prototypes and their potential for rich activity design. Hopefully, depending on COVID19 circumstances, some of this can be done remotely with care workers and experts in the Netherlands and Spain (in Spain, the activities are carried out by the Spanish partner in the project) to gain more insight into the potential for engaging care professionals with the possibilities of using social robots in their work. By exploring multiple prototypes, the insights that we gather will hopefully go beyond the impact of a single application.

Contact person: Dennis Reidsma

COMPANIES, EXTERNAL RESEARCH INSTITUTES, AND END USER ORGANISATIONS

Here you find some of the organisations that are willing to host master students from HMI. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to have both an external (non-research institute) internship and an external final assignment. If you work for a company that is interested in providing internships or final assignments please contact D.K.J.Heylen[at]utwente.nl

Adding Speech to Dialogues with a Council of Coaches

Context

In the EU project Council of Coaches (COUCH) we are developing a team of virtual coaches that can help older adults achieve their health goals. Each coach offers insight and advice based on their expertise. For example, the activity coach may talk about the importance of physical exercise, while the social coach may ask the user about their friends and family. Our system enables fluent multi-party interaction between multiple coaches and our users; in addition to talking directly with the user, the coaches may also have dialogues amongst themselves.

More information: https://council-of-coaches.eu/project/overview/

Challenge

Currently in COUCH the user interacts with the coaches by selecting one of several predefined multiple-choice responses on a tablet or computer interface. Although this is a reliable way to capture input from the user, it may not be ideal for our target user group of older adults. Perhaps spoken dialogue can offer a better user experience?

In the past, researchers found that it was quite difficult to sustain dialogues that relied on automatic speech recognition (ASR) (e.g. see[1] Bickmore & Picard, 2005). However, recent commercial systems like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa offer considerable improvements in recognising user’s speech. Such state of the art systems might now be sufficiently reliable for supporting high-quality spoken dialogues between our coaches and the user.

Assignment

In your project you will adapt the COUCH system to support spoken interactions. In addition to incorporating ASR, you will investigate smart ways to organise the dialog to facilitate adequate recognition in noisy and uncertain settings while keeping the conversation going. Finally, you will also evaluate the user experience and the quality of dialog progress in various settings and thereby the suitability of state of the art speech recognition for live, open-setting spoken conversation.

You will carry out the work at Roessingh Research and Development (http://www.rrd.nl/) with intensive collaboration with researchers at the Human Media Interaction group of the University of Twente.

Contact

Dennis Reidsma (d.reidsma@utwente.nl)
Harm op den Akker (H.opdenAkker@rrd.nl)


[1] Timothy W. Bickmore and Rosalind W. Picard. 2005. Establishing and maintaining long-term human-computer relationships. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 12, 2 (June 2005), 293–327. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/1067860.1067867

Large-scale data mining & NLP @ OCLC - Leiden, NL

OCLC is a global library cooperative that provides shared technology services, original research and community programs for its membership and the library community at large. Collectively with member libraries, OCLC maintains WorldCat, the world’s most comprehensive database of information about library collections. WorldCat now hosts more than 460 million bibliographic records in 483 languages, aggregated from 18,000 libraries in 123 countries.

As the WorldCat continues to grow in quantity, OCLC is actively exploring data science, advanced machine learning, linked data and visualisation technologies to improve data quality, transform bibliographic descriptions into actionable knowledge, as well as provide more functionality for professional cataloguers and develop more services for end users of the libraries. 

OCLC is constantly looking for students who are enthusiastic to advance AI technologies for library and other cultural heritage data. Examples of student assignments are:

  • Fast and scalable semantic embedding for Information Retrieval
  • eXtreme
    Multi-label Text Classification (XMTC) for automatic subject prediction
  • Automatic
    image captioning for Cultural Heritage collections 
  • Entity extraction and disambiguation
  • Entity matching across different media (e.g. books, articles, cultural heritageobjects, etc) or across languages
  • Hierarchical clustering of bibliographic records
  • Constructing knowledge graphs around books, authors, subjects, publishers, etc.  
  • Interactive visualisation of library data on geographic maps and/or along a time dimension
  • Concept drift (i.e., how meaning changes over time) and its effects on Information Retrieval 
  • Scientometrics-related topics based on co-authoring networks and/or citation networks

More details are available on request. 

Contact: Shenghui Wang
Email: shenghui.wang@utwente.nl

Human Participants Study with Haptic Device and VR Integration @ Heemskerk Innovative Technology (Delft)

Current Project to be carried out in 2020:

The internship would consist of bettering the study a previous intern conducted, by making the entire system more seamless, incorporating suggestions that the previous intern made and adding anything that the new intern would find useful to the research. Besides this, the internship could also contain developing/exploring the synchronization of the HAPTION Virtuose (bigger haptic device) with Unity and VR, as this research was still limited to the Geomagic Touch (smaller haptic device).

Company Information:

Heemskerk Innovative Technology provides advice and support to innovative high-tech projects in the field of robotics and mechatronics. Our mission: Convert basic research into innovative business concepts and real-world applications by creating solutions for performing actions where people themselves can not reach: making the world smaller, better integrated and in an intuitive way.

Focus areas:
Haptics
Dexterous manipulation
Master-slave control
Dynamic contact
Augmented Reality

https://heemskerk-innovative.nl

Contact:
Brolin Fernandes <b.o.fernandes@student.utwente.nl>
Jamy Li (EEMCS) <j.j.li@utwente.nl>

Tasty Bits 'n' Bytes: Food Technology @ het Lansink - Enschede, NL

The current popularity of ICTs that offer augmented or virtual reality experiences, such as Oculus Rift, Google Glass, and Microsoft Hololens, suggests that these technologies will become increasingly more commonplace in our daily lives. With this the question arises of how these mixed reality technologies will be of benefit to us in our day-to-day activities. One such activity that could take advantage of mixed reality technologies is the consumption of food and beverages. Considering the fact that the perception of food is highly multisensory, being not only governed by taste and smell, but to a strong degree by our visual, auditory and tactile senses, mixed reality technologies could be used to enhance our dining experiences. In the Tasty Bits and Bytes project we will explore the use of mixed reality technology to digitally (using visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile stimuli) enhance the experience of consuming food and beverages.

The setting for these challenges and projects is a mixed reality restaurant table at Het Lansink that hosts a variety of technologies to provide a novel food and beverage experience.

Assignments that can be carried out in collaboration with Het Lansink concern, for example: actuated plates; projection mapping on the table; force feedback; and multimodal taste sensations.

Website: http://www.tastybitsandbytes.com/

Contact: Dirk Heylen, Juliet Haarman

Addiction, Coaching and Games @ Tactus - Enschede, NL

Tactus is specialized in the care and treatment of addiction. They offer help to people who suffer from problems as a result of their addiction to alcohol, drugs, medication, gambling or eating. They help by identifying addiction problems as well as preventing and breaking patterns of addiction. They also provide information and advice to parents, teachers and other groups on how to deal with addiction.

Assignment possibilities include developing game-like support and coaching apps.

Website: https://www.tactus.nl/enschede

Contact: Randy Klaassen

Enhancing Music Therapy with Technology @ ArtEZ - Enschede, NL

ArtEZ School of Music has a strong department in Neurologic Music Therapy, which does not only train new therapists but also engages in fundamental research towards evaluating and imrpoving the impact of Music Therapy.

Music is a powerful tool for influencing people. Not only because music is nice, but also because music actually has neurological effects on the motor system. That is why music therapy is also used as revalidation instrument for people with various conditions. In this assignment you will work with professional music therapists, in developing interactive products to enrich the music therapy sessions for various purposes.

Possibliities include design, development and research assignments on systems such as home practice applications, sound spaces for embodied training, sensing to provide insights to the therapist and/or feedback to the client, etcetera.

Contact Dennis Reidsma

Stories and Language @ Meertens Institute - Amsterdam, NL

The Meertens Institute, established in 1926, has been a research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) since 1952. They study the diversity in language and culture in the Netherlands, with a focus on contemporary research into factors that play a role in determining social identities in the Dutch society. Their main fields are:

  • ethnological study of the function, meaning and coherence of cultural expressions
  • structural, dialectological and sociolinguistic study of language variation within Dutch in the Netherlands, with the emphasis on grammatical and onomastic variation.

Apart from research, the institute also concerns itself with documentation and providing information to third parties in the field of Dutch language and culture. We possess a large library, with numerous collections and a substantive documentation system, of which databases are a substantive part.

Assignments include text mining and classification and language technology, but also usability and interaction design.

Website of the institute: http://www.meertens.knaw.nl/cms/

Contact: Mariët Theune

Language and Retrieval @ Elsevier - Amsterdam, NL

Elsevier is the world's biggest scientific publisher, established in 1880. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 impactful journals including Tetrahedron, Cell and The Lancet. Flagship products include ScienceDirect, Scopus and Reaxys. Increasingly, Elsevier is becoming a major scientific information provider. For specific domains, structured scientific knowledge is extracted for querying and searching from millions of Elsevier and third-party scientific publications (journals, patents and books). In this way, Elsevier is positioning itself as the leading information provider for the scientific and corporate research community.

Assignment possibilities include text mining, information retrieval, language technology, and other topics.

Contact: Mariët Theune

Interactive Technology for Music Education @ ArtEZ - Enschede, NL

The bachelor Music in Education of ArtEZ Academy of Music in Enschede increasingly profiles itself with a focus on technology in service to music education. Students and teachers apply digital learning methods for teaching music and they experiment with all kinds of digital instruments and music apps. Applying technology in music education goes beyond the application of these tools. Interactive music systems have potential in supporting (pre-service) teachers in teaching music in primary education. Still, much research needs to be done. 

Current questions include: What is an optimal medium for presenting direct feedback on the quality of rhythmic music making? What should this feedback look like? 

HMI students are warmly invited to contribute to this research by creating applications concerning feedback and visualisations for rhythmic music making in primary education. Design playful, interactive musical instruments to engage children to play rhythms together. Or come up with interactive (augmented) solutions that support teachers in guiding children making music. 

You work in collaboration with one of the main teachers in the bachelor Music in Education who is doing his PhD project on this topic.

Contact: Benno Spieker, Dennis Reidsma

Using (neuro)physiological signals @ TNO -- Soesterberg, NL

At TNO Soesterberg (department of Perceptual and Cognitive Systems) we investigate how we can exploit physiological signals such as EEG brain signals, heart rate, skin conductance, pupil size and eye gaze in order to improve (human-machine) performance and evaluation. An example of a currently running project is predicting individual head rotations from EEG in order to reduce delays in streaming images in head mounted displays. Other running projects deal with whether and how different physiological measures reflect food experience. Part of the research is done for international customers. 

More examples of projects as reflected in papers are on Google Scholar

We welcome students with skills in machine learning and signal processing and/or who would like to setup experiments, work with human participants and advanced measurement technology.

Contact: Jan van Erp <j.b.f.vanerp@utwente.nl>

Social VR User Experiences @ TNO -- Den Haag, NL

In the TNO MediaLab (The Hague), we create innovative media technologies aimed at providing people with new and rich media experiences, which they can enjoy wherever, whenever and with whomever they want. To enable this, we mainly develop video streaming solutions, working from the capture side to the rendering side, looking at many of the aspects involved: coding, transport, synchronisation, orchestration, digital rights management, service delivery, etc.. In many cases, we do this work directly for customers such as broadcasters and content distributors.

As part of this, we currently work on what we call Social VR, or VR conferencing. Virtual Reality applications excel in immersing the user into another reality. But passed the wow-effect, users may feel the lack of the social interactions that would happen in real life. TNO is exploring ways to bring in the virtual world the experience of sharing moments of life with friends and family. We do this using advanced video-based solutions.

We are actively looking for students to contribute to:

- evaluating, analysing and improving the user experience of the services developed, e.g. working on user embodiment, presence, HCI-aspects, etc.

- the technical development of the platform (i.e. prototyping), e.g. working on spatial audio, 3D video, spatial orchestration, etc.

Focus of assignments can be on one aspect or the other, or a combination of both.

More info of what we do at TNO Medialab can be found here: https://tnomedialab.github.io/

Contact: Jan van Erp <j.b.f.vanerp@utwente.nl>

Emodied interaction with VR & AR for health @ Philips Healthcare - Eindhoven, NL

Philips Eindhoven deals with the subject of “Connected Care”. Connected care is about allowing medical professionals to maintain an effective and efficient connection to their patients. Providing clear information about the patient is key in this process. 

At this R&D group of Philips there is a keen interest in applying VR or AR in such a health care setting. On the longer run this might be combined with several of Philip’s existing and future appliances. Being part of the world-wide research and development department of Philips their interest is on the exploration of possibilities of AR&VR for settings such as physical rehabilitation and MRI & CT visualisation.

Your assignment is to research and eventually design a stimulating or informative VR application, starting of course by making yourself familiar with the current state of the art and then specifying a better framed project. It has to include a well-designed experiment to investigate fitting research questions.

In addition to conducting research, you will be expected to design a virtual evironment with Unity. Therefore prior knowledge and skills of Unity and/or modelling is essential. Help can be provided from the host institute and tutors for the VR related specifics and (serious) game design mechanics.

Contact: Robby van Delden <r.w.vandelden@utwente.nl>

Social Robots in Care @ Vierstroom - Gouda, NL

Vierstroom is a care organisation offering care at people's homes (to help people live at home, independently, for a longer time) and in a care home. As part of that, Vierstroom also wants to explore how novel technology such as social robots, but also other kinds of technology, can improve the services they offer to their client.

As part of this they are looking for creative and independent thesis students who can help them explore novel interventions with social robots for elderly people, for example in the setting of a "buurthuis". For this they have at least the availability of an iPal robot, and possibly other robot platforms. Assignments will include the design, implementation, and evaluation of the intervention. 

Contact person: Dennis Reidsma

AR for Movement and Health @ Holomoves - Utrecht, NL

Holomoves is a company in Utrecht that combines Hololens Augmented Reality with expertise in health and physiotherapy, to offer new interventions for rehabilitation and healthy movement in a medical setting. Students can work with them on a variety of assignments including design, user studies, and/or technology development.

More information on the company: https://holomoves.nl/

Contact person: Robby van Delden, Dennis Reidsma 

Artificial Intelligence & NLP @ Info Support - Veenendaal, NL

Info Support is a software company that makes high-end custom technology solutions for companies in the financial technology, health, energy, public transport, and agricultural technology sectors. Info Support is located in Veenendaal/Utrecht, NL with research locations in Amsterdam, Den Bosch, and Mechelen, Belgium.

Info Support has extensive experience when it comes to supervising graduation students. With assignments that do not only have added scientific value, but also impact the clients of Info Support and their clients’ clients. As a university-level graduating student, you will become part of the Research Center within Info Support. This is a group of colleagues who, on top of their job as a consultant, have a strong affinity with scientific research. The Research Center facilitates and stimulates scientific research, with the objective of staying ahead in Artificial Intelligence, Software Architecture, and Software Methodologies that most likely will affect our future.

Various research assignments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing can be carried out at Info Support.

Examples of assignments include:

  • finding a way to anonymize streaming data in such a way that it will not affect the utility of AI and Machine Learning models
  • improving the usability of Machine Learning model explanations to make them accessible for people without statistical knowledge
  • generating new scenarios for software testing, based on requirements written in a natural language and definitions of logical steps within the application

More details are available on request.

Contact: Mariët Theune

New doctor-patient conversations thanks to technology @ MST - Enschede, NL

New technology makes a difference in medicine. Not just by transforming the education of professionals and by inventing new ways to treat patients, but also by changing the communication between doctor and patient. Patients know more than ever thanks to "Doctor Google"; the ways of communication by doctors nowadays already changes to account for such developments. At the same time, it remains challenging to explain to patients the intricacies of their condition and their treatment. In this assignment, you will explore how novel technology such as 3D printing or augmented reality can be used to transform the nature of doctor-patient conversations in the context of surgery.

This assignment can be done as thesis or as internship, and will carried out in the context of the 3D print lab of the regional hospital MST.

https://www.mst.nl/p/mst-opent-medisch-3d-print-laboratorium/

Contact person: Dennis Reidsma