Andreas Rieckhof, State Secretary in the Ministry of Economics, Transport and Innovation, opened Friday a new “Creative Space for Technical Innovations (CSTI)” at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) using a virtual bottle of bits and bytes instead of champagne. This exciting, but unusual inauguration ceremony unveiled a whole new world at CSTI.
The innovative, experimental space for forward-looking digital systems is set to become a hub of creativity and innovation where students and start-ups will link up with commerce to come up with responses to pressing issues such as digitalisation, Industry 4.0 and smart cities. Kai von Luck, Professor of Applied Computer Science and Director of CSTI, said: “This is to become a place for experiments, actually experiencing possibilities, collaborations, knowledge transfer and founding companies.“
Perception of virtual spaces
Commenting on the approach, Rieckhof noted: “Incubators and accelerator programmes form centres of entrepreneurship in today’s modern IT sector”. He added: “These experimental laboratories like Creative Space are important elements in playful methods of developing and implementing new ideas and ideally, making them ready for the market.“
Rieckhof then tried out an idea developed by Jonathan Becker, a 23-year-old student at HAW. Becker has been working on perception in virtual spaces and gave Rieckhof a virtual headset to glimpse a fully-furnished loft complete with couch, bed, a grand piano and a white cat playing in background.
Becker’s creation includes a panoramic view with great attention to detail including a magnificent chandelier. This proved a tricky feature. As soon as someone stepped onto a ramp in this virtual world, the room began to tilt and the viewer saw things from the perspective of a fly on the wall. Another step and things were turned upside down.
Such experiences are unusual and unaccustomed. Becker noted: “Wobbly knees during such experiences are not unusual and soon revert to normal.“ He then explained the idea behind his B.A. thesis in computer science. “Anything is possible in a virtual environment and I wish to test limits and break boundaries with this application.“ A bird’s eye experience of a space may interest the game industry. Architects and interior designers are other possible users, said Becker.
Intelligent, mood-reflecting mirror
Maria Lüdemann, 24, also presented her M.A. project focusing on an intelligent mirror that reflects both physical and emotional conditions. Lüdemann explained: “That is suitable e.g. for preventing burnout. Although we are aware of our need for a break, the mirror proves this feeling using objective data.“ The mirror can take a daily photograph as proof of visible change. The smart object can also be combined with sleep and activity trackers, an analytical scales or a blood pressure monitor. And in future, the mirror may be able to remind the user of appointments or link up with social media.
Experimenting with forward-looking technologies
More than 20 companies and 50 scientists visited CSTI during the founding phase where an interdisciplinary team of students and instructors tackle entire series of different projects focusing on virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and human computer interaction. This early interest has been nurtured in the “Living Place” where von Luck has been researching living environments in the future.
Xing founder Lars Hinrichs’ Apartimentum
Experimenting with forward-looking technologies is not new at HAW. Lars Hinrichs, founder of Xing, has already used some of the smart home applications developed in the “Living Place” in his Apartimentum, which is being hailed as Germany’s most intelligent house since it opened last autumn. HAW’s ideas, practical research and creative incubator for new ideas, products and applications are already working well.