Research Focus

As part of the following research focuses, we can support students with specialist knowledge and technical aids who are interested in a project, a bachelor thesis or master thesis in one of the following areas.

For more information regarding the application process for a specific topic, please visit Topics.

Serious Games and Gamification in HCI Research

Serious games are games with a primary purpose beyond mere entertainment. For example, motivation, concentration and playful behavior were used in serious games to investigate research questions, analyze problems or convey learning content. A similar concept that is often associated with serious games is gamification: the use of game elements and game principles in applications outside of a playful context, e.g. to increase motivation or productivity.

In this research focus, we pursue the goal of utilizing serious games and gamification in empirical studies in the field of human computer interaction. This approach offers the possibility of guiding and observing human behavior in controlled situations within a game, for example by giving players a decision or by asking them to solve a task as part of the game. The prospect of being able to collect extensive data from many players over a longer period of time is very promising. However, in this context it can be challenging to successfully embed research questions in the design of a game that is also supposed to be entertaining, as well as the evaluation of the validity of data collected in this way.

Specific topics for projects, bachelor theses and master theses range from game design to the planning and implementation of empirical studies, depending on previous knowledge and interests.

Trust

Trust is an important prerequisite for human-computer interaction. Information technology (from software applications to hardware) is so complex that it is impossible for laypeople and in most cases experts to understand it in its entirety. The use of IT products or services therefore necessarily requires users to trust the respective product and its manufacturer.

  • It is of practical interest in UI design and systems engineering to design products in such a way that they are perceived as trustworthy. Open questions in this regard relate to quality criteria, guidelines and best practices. One challenge is that with designs that appear to be persuasively trustworthy (e.g. professional graphic design and the use of images associated with security), the risk of misuse is high (e.g. if the same design is used in a fake phishing page). Sustainable, trustworthy design therefore combines persuasive elements with protective mechanisms in order to avoid misuse (e.g. verifiability of the authenticity of a website or message with the help of cryptographic procedures).
  • It is of scientific interest to better understand and measure the role of trust in the use of IT systems in the context of human-computer interaction. This applies to both trust and cognitive or emotional attitudes, as well as the resulting user behavior and technology acceptance.

Projects, bachelor theses and master theses in the field of “Engineering of Trust” are possible on specific design / engineering tasks and on empirical studies. Possible domains are, for example, banking / e-payment, secure messaging and fake news.

Banking

For end customers, banking has become a very direct and multifaceted experience in recent years. From the point of view of Human-Computer Interaction, this area of ​​application brings with it exciting challenges, as complex, technical issues are to be conveyed to users in easily understandable language and suitable interaction metaphors and modalities must be found that enable intuitive use. The challenges here are balancing security and usability, but also regulatory requirements, which result in restrictions but also new possibilities in banking, as well as the broad target group: banking is a necessity for most people.

Often and justifiably, the issue of security plays a major role and, in practice, takes on the role of the opponent on the issue of usability. Systems that have been designed to be extremely secure usually require an unusually large number of security measures or a deeper technical understanding from users. At the same time, the legal requirements, guidelines and standards in this area change particularly quickly, which means that there is a need for rapid adaptation to framework conditions. In addition to security, the performance and availability of the systems (i.e. factors that are not primarily assigned to the HCI area) also have a significant influence on user acceptance.

The scientific goal in the research focus Banking is therefore the design of new types of user interfaces, interaction concepts and processes with high usability and security, for example in the following areas:

  • Future payment methods at the POS (point of sale)
  • Novel interaction metaphors in banking systems
  • Forms of interaction in the area of ​​P2P transfers (peer-to-peer)
  • User interfaces for the visualization of assets for different target groups
  • Multi-factor authentication and approval process

Specific topics for projects, bachelor theses and master theses are possible in the area of ​​”Banking” for both the mobile and the desktop context and are structured into the elaboration of design / engineering tasks and the implementation of empirical studies.

Combinations with other research focuses such as trust and serious games are possible and will be sought. In the area of ​​the banking research focus, there is also a cooperation between DECO (Designing Comfort) and BABA (Balancing Banks) – see also current topics from BABA.

Innovative Text Input Methods and Text-based Interaction

Entering text is one of the most basic forms of interacting with a computer. Regardless of whether we are working in a terminal window, entering a search term in Google or writing a message to our friends in WhatsApp, entering text always plays a central role. While the physical keyboard, most commonly with a QWERTY layout, was most successful on personal computers, physical keyboards have largely disappeared from smartphones today. The rapid spread of smartphones and tablets with touchscreens presents new challenges, but also great potential for innovation in text input methods. Virtual on-screen keyboards may be the most widespread today, but innovative approaches such as Swype, contextual keyboards or gesture-based text input options reveal the potential for innovation in the design of virtual keyboards. In the recent past, advances in natural language processing have opened up new possibilities for text input, as well as text-based interaction using natural, spoken language.

The aim of this research topic is to investigate innovative text input methods and text-based interaction, from the development of novel approaches and the evaluation of different methods to the analysis and further development of the evaluation methodology of text input methods themselves.

Eye Tracking

Eye tracking allows the detection and recording of eye movements of a viewer in front of a screen. This allows, for example, the analysis of image perception or movement perception and related studies. Furthermore, eye tracking is an interesting input mechanism for computer systems. In the past, applications from the areas of ​​accessibility and video games made use of this input option in particular.
Various tasks for project work, bachelor theses or master theses are possible within our research focus:

  • Development and evaluation of novel interaction concepts using eye tracking, either in addition to or as a replacement for existing input mechanisms
  • Carrying out eye tracking studies to record and analyze the gaze behavior of users to evaluate and improve user interfaces
  • Development of tools for analysis, visualization and evaluation of eye tracking data