Kim Xu

Research in Bremen, Germany: Summer 2009

The sign outside my office

I had the opportunity to return to Germany during the summer of 2009 this time as a researcher instead of a student. I worked for the Technologie-Zentrum Informatik und Informationstechnik at the University of Bremen and took part in many projects. Many of the projects had an ethnographic component and gave me the opportunity to go see the target users in their everyday environment.

Warehouse Picking

I presented the results of this research at CHI 2010 (presentation, paper). In this project, we were testing various interaction methods (head-mounted display, audio, and two versions of paper) to help workers fulfill warehouse orders. I helped to design the experiment and was able to visit a Mercedes plant in the area to interview a manager in charge of deploying warehouse picking technology. We observed pickers as they were working.

The experimental layout for the warehouse picking project

Fire Fighter Glove

The focus of this project was to design a glove which could provide feedback about the ambient temperature through tactile feedback. We visited a training site for the Bremen fire fighters and observed a container fire as they trained police officers.
a group of police officers and fire fighters enter the container a group of police officers and fire fighters enter the container


This project was focused on helping senior citizens gain more access to information technology. I visited two housing complexes for senior citizens in Bremen and interviewed current computer owners about the types of activities they performed on computers and what they would like to see in a new system geared towards their friends and them. One ninety-year-old woman showed me her computer in her apartment and demonstrated how she used it.

Piano Glove

The purpose of this project was to design a glove with vibration motors in the finger tips that could sync with music. The individual motors would vibrate on a finger to indicate that the user should play a note. This was a continuation of a project taking place at Georgia Tech to teach people how to play the piano passively. I designed prototype gloves for people to wear around during their daily activities to help with the final arrangement of components. The prototype component box was created out of balsa wood to evaluate the stress the components would go through.