News of the Institute of Media Informatics

Congratulation to Ph.D. defence to Gabriel Haas

Ulm University

Thursday, 16 February

Gabriel Haas, former longterm member of the research group human-computer interaction, successfully defended his phd project of the title Towards Auditory Interaction: An Analysis of Computer-Based Auditory Interfaces in Three Settings. The jury consisted of Prof. Dr Enrico Rukzio (Institute of Media Informatics, Ulm University), Prof. Dr Matt Jones (Swansea University, Wales), completed by the elective members Prof. Dr Martin Baumann and Prof. Dr Dr-Ing. Wolfgang Minker (both Ulm University), and Prof. Dr Manfred Reichert (head of the commission and minutes).


In the past, visual output devices and haptic input devices dominated human-computer interaction. Thus, much research and development has been done in the field of graphical user interfaces and plenty input devices have been developed for the use by hands. Technological advances in various fields, such as machine learning, semiconductor manufacturing, and signal processing, enabled voice-based interfaces that allow for more natural interaction between humans and technology, and created new ways of processing and interacting with environmental sounds which will be studied and discussed in my dissertation.

In this work, the entities which humans interact with are split into three areas: human-human interaction, interaction with the physical surroundings, and human-machine interaction. In human-human interaction only computer-supported verbal communication was investigated, since the computer as a mediator enables new qualities such as persistence. Asynchronous voice messages as a novel and emerging form of communication were found to be perceived as enabling more efficient communication, help to handle secondary occupations, and better facilitate the maintenance of close relationships as text-based communication in a first work. Building on this, a concept for the manipulation and augmentation of such voice messages was developed and an effective implementation presented.  

As an example of interaction with the physical surroundings, the alteration of the acoustic perception via
wearable audio technology has found widespread application and diverse use. Current headphone usage, as well as demands and applications for future devices, were gathered via focus groups. Based on the insights, the concept of a per audio-source alteration of the acoustic surrounding was developed and tested. It was found to allow for a comfortable, informative soundscape while also satisfying the need for isolation in our dynamic and busy world.

In the setting of human-machine interaction, voice interfaces will be investigated in a final step. The focus of this work will be on increasing naturalness, which is to be realized by incorporating human traits.

Overall, the three identified settings in auditory interaction have been and are being investigated from a theoretical and practical point of view to optimize auditory interaction and present novel possibilities enabled by recent technology.

We congratulate him to this major step in his academic and professional career and wish him well and luck to his future projects.

Gabriel Haas amidst the doctoral committee
Prof. Dr M. Baumann (Ulm University), Prof. Dr J. Gugenheimer (TU Darmstadt), Prof. Dr Dr-Ing W.Minker, Gabriel Haas, Prof. Dr E. Rukzio, Prof. Dr M. Reichert (all Ulm University)
G. Haas with doctoral hat