Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) in the Automotive Industry

Human Machine Interfaces, sometimes also called Man Machine Interfaces, help users to communicate with different machines. The term HMI is often just used for describing graphical interfaces, but theoretically, every interface that allows the user to interact with a machine is called HMI. Different buttons, knobs, levers, pedals, steering wheels and auditory displays are also common human machine interfaces, especially in cars. Like cars, some traditional machines also have multiple HMIs for different purposes. While some of them may allow the user to fulfill only one specific task, most of them will allow interaction with different parts of the machine. Because modern machines normally offer a lot of different functions, the people controlling them often need special training to be able to use the HMIs accordingly.

External Human Machine Interfaces (eHMIs)

The concept of External Human Machine Interfaces (eHMIs) is still relatively new in the automotive industry and not available yet. They will be used to communicate relevant information between pedestrians or other road users when drivers gradually become passengers in semi- and fully autonomous vehicles.

At the moment, the communication between drivers and road users is mostly facilitated by informal communicative cues like hand gestures, facial expressions and eye contact. Although eHMIs are not available yet, a lot of automakers and startups are already testing different colors, symbols, icons, lights, texts and where to place these interfaces so that the communication with all other road users works best.

smart vision EQ fortwo smart vision EQ fortwo

Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) 

Modern cars are already offering a lot of different human machine interfaces. Drivers can control the direction the car is going with the steering wheel, the motor with the gas pedal, different lights with levers, air conditioning with buttons and knobs and the in-vehicle infotainment system with buttons, touch, voice- and gesture recognition. Most of the HMIs are placed in the head unit or the center console of the car and easily reachable for drivers and passengers.


Even in the future, when all cars are driving autonomously, these human machine interfaces will play an important role. Without proper HMIs, passengers would not even be able to tell the car where they want to go. While human machine interfaces will probably look completely different in the future, they will still serve their original purpose. HMIs should inform the passengers, ensure their safety, use their time more efficiently, entertain them and improve their overall driving experience.


 The first human machine interfaces in cars were purely mechanical and provided the drivers with useful information about speed, gas level and the rev counter. At the moment, these HMIs are also strongly influenced by the technologies that passengers use on other devices during their daily lives. All automakers are already integrating more and more functions from smartphones like games, Netflix, app stores and other web-based applications.


In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems (IVI)

In-vehicle infotainment systems are one of the key selling points when purchasing a new car. Cars have already evolved from hardware-driven machines to software-driven electronic devices, just like our smartphones. The main purpose of the in-vehicle infotainment system is to deliver information and entertainment and ensure comfort and safety to all passengers. With the rise of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), it is also important that the drivers get more real-time driving information. This information also helps the system to get trust from the passengers but also makes IVIs more complex.


Because in-vehicle infotainment systems will get more and more functions in the coming years, the usability of the user interface and the performance will become even more important in the future. But responsible in-vehicle infotainment designs must also account for the risks of distraction. The distraction of the driver is not only based on the usability of the screen and the software, it is also influenced by the position, size, amount of screens in the car and the age of the driver. According to a study, especially older drivers from 55 to 75 years get distracted even longer by modern infotainment systems. Even though manufacturers are already working on minimizing driver distraction, there are still a lot of accidents happening every year that can be led back to this distraction.

To help avoid these and other accidents and make in-vehicle infotainment systems more user friendly in general, there are already different guidelines out there that should help automakers and OEMs to deliver a better user experience…

  • Different ISO norms like 15008:2017. It is about “Road vehicles – ergonomic aspects of transport information and control systems – specifications and test procedures for in-vehicle visual presentation” 
  • The Commission Recommendation of 26 May 2008 on safe and efficient in-vehicle information and communication systems: update of the European Statement of Principles on human-machine interface
  • NHTSA also released the Visual-Manual NHTSA Driver Distraction Guidelines for In-Vehicle Electronic Devices



External Human–Machine Interfaces for Autonomous Vehicle-to-Pedestrian Communication: A Review of Empirical Work
Alexandros Rouchitsas and Hakan Alm
10. Dezember 2019

How can humans understand their automated cars? HMI principles, problems and solutions
Oliver Carsten, Marieke H. Martens
12. Mai 2018

Designing infotainment systems that are interactive, not destructive
Mike Claassen


Automotive User Interfaces, Creating Interactive Experiences in the Car
Gerrit Meixner, Christian Müller

Smart Automotive Mobility, Reliable Technology for the Mobile Human
Gerrit Meixner


Film Marketing

The sad truth is, it does not really matter how good a movie is, if the marketing is bad and nobody will see it. It’s the marketing that seeds awareness.

“There are many traditional avenues, from press releases and print advertising, from flier to poster distribution to Facebook and Google advertising.” (p.125 Filmmaking for Change)

With the growth of the Internet it is easy to reach people, but it is necessary to map out a strategy and be ready to execute it.

Print Ad Campaign:

The use of print ads has declined in recent years, particularly in the indie film space. The simple reason is they are very expensive, especially if you are talking about a leading paper in a major metropolitan area. Another possibility is targeted magazine ads. These can be very targeted, reaching a very specific demo.

Press Releases:

If you can manage to get editorial coverage in papers where your film will be released, you can reduce your print ad spend. This coverage helps generate awareness for the film, which should pick up momentum over the life of your run, and you can add to your website, which helps to give some teeth and credibility to your project.

TV/ Radio

It can really help to work with a publicist in this area, as they have the relationships with this media, and they can talk the talk. If you can’t afford a publicist, do your press release research and reach out to local stations.

Social Networks

Not only is it free to use, but there are numerous ways to incorporate social networking into your campaign, from Facebook to Twitter, blogs to special interest groups, Instagram to Pinterest. It is no longer necessary to feel to pay to push information to the consumer, as long as you can find a way to get your information to the consumer. Help them find you. Have a presence where your target audience likes to hang out.

Film Festivals

From a marketing standpoint, you should see festivals as opportunities to generate awareness for your movie, in terms of general screenings and subsequent word of mouth, as well as the PR value you could get from potential coverage in local media.

Special interest groups

Chances are, there is a subject in your film that connects to a cause. There are probably also organizations or groups who stand for that cause, engage with these people. After all you are bringing their issue to light and should want to power of film to make a difference. Help them help you.


Whether you have strategic alliances with partners, product placement, or sponsorship, think creatively about how they can help you spread the word about your release.

Key Art

Most movies have a title treatment, a creative presentation of the name in the movie. It will also be important to pull a few of the best stills. Sometimes, if you are planning ahead in pre-production, you have a still photographer taking pictures during the shoot. All festivals require at least one still for their website and program, and media will ask for stills and artwork to support articles. Think of your film as a company itself. If you were branding your company, you would need to develop a logo, and a look, maybe even a tagline. This combination of materials becomes part of the marketing plan as you brand your film, from your poster to your website. There needs to be consistency, these materials give you a professional look, and sense of production value.


Your Website must be an active marketing vehicle, with all the standard social media icons. Share, share, share, share.

Press Kit

A press kit is a collection of materials, they are traditionally handed out on special screenings and often sent to media, industry and distributors. There is usually a Press Kit found on film websites as well. These things are usually found in such kits: a one liner, synopsis, production notes, a director statement, cast and crew list, list of festival appearances and awards, copies of press coverage, still photos and the link to the trailer.


Sharing the trailer has become a key piece of marketing. Trailer creation is an art form, and it takes more then slamming a few key scenes and moments together.

sources: p.125-134 book filmmaking for a change

Tips for a Good Ambisonic Mix

As technology moves more toward immersive experiences, such as VR and AR, as well as more realistic in-game experiences on other platforms, there is an increasing need for surround sound mixing. It has already been part of the cinema experience for quite a while, but now the boundaries have to be pushed to create something even more modern, thus requiring even more complex production/mixing techniques. This article gives creative tips and lists mostly open-source surround mixing software, as well as some paid options. There are not so many surround plugins available on the market, and most of them come at a pretty hefty price. It is not uncommon to see surround plug-in suites selling even for 1-2 thousand dollars. With a little bit of creativity, more layering, some coding knowledge and resourcefulness, it is possible to make high-quality surround mixes without breaking the bank.

IEM Plug-In Suite

The first and obvious choice that we were already shown in our classes is the IEM Plug-In suite. It can work with up to 7th order Ambisonics and provides the perfect base for a good surround mix. It contains the following plug-ins: AllRADecoder, BinauralDecoder, CoordinateConverter, DirectionalCompressor, DirectivityShaper, DistanceCompensator, DualDelay, EnergyVisualizer, FdnReverb, MatrixMultiplier, MultiBandCompressor, MultiEncoder, MultiEQ, OmniCompressor, ProbeDecoder, RoomEncoder, SceneRotator, SimpleDecoder, StereoEncoder and ToolBox. Each of the plug-ins have a lot of options, just be careful with CPU usage- the reverb for example can be quite intense, so you might want to choose an FDN size of 32 instead of 64 if you are having issues. If this suite doesn’t contain enough plug-in types to unleash your creativity, the rest of article lists other great options that could be combined well with the IEM Suite.

VISR Production Suite

The VISR Production suite is special because it is the first open-source suite for producing and reproducing object-based audio. Object-based differs from channel-based mixing in the way that it is scalable, future-proof, and adaptable for any type of user system, which provides a new level of interaction and personalisation. Right now the suite is compatible with Reaper, but it will soon be available for use with Ableton and Logic as well, which is very exciting news, being an avid Ableton user myself! The suite is available to download in the VST3 format. Just make sure to have the appropriate version of Python installed- it is required for the Binaural Renderer plug-in.

MCFX v0.5.11 – Multichannel Audio Plug-in Suite

The mcfx plug-in collection has tons of different plug-ins, including the convolver, which is very useful and necessary for creating convincing spaces and atmospheres. This is yet another free resource that we discussed in class. Note the most of the open-source variants will be a bit glitchy, and unfortunately due to that, I was not able to install this suite. So, if it works on your machine, it’s definitely worth it.

Envelop 4 Live

Envelop 4 Live is a collection of Max devices that can be used in Ableton to create spatial audio. Normally, the Ableton mixer is only able to do stereo mixes, but there is a binaural mixer in the plug-in suite which enables working with binaural audio in up to 3rd order ambisonics. This is not as much as the aforementioned plug-ins, but it still gives you cool capabilities and can be used for interactive VR sound creation.

Waves 360 °  Ambisonics

The Waves ambisonics suite is a paid one, but I included it because Waves plug-ins are so popular and they often have discounts. The current price is 399 USD. Some of the features of this bundle:

B360 Ambisonics Encoder, Nx Virtual Mix Room, and Nx Head Tracker. Mix stereo and mono elements into Ambisonics B-format. Convert surround mixes into 1st-order Ambisonics B-format. Precise positioning and easy placement of elements in a 360° mix. Intuitive user interface for a familiar-feeling workflow. Adjustable Width, Rotation, and elevation. Compatible with AmbiX. Includes AmbiX-FuMa and FuMa-AmbiX converter. Virtual acoustically optimised mix room for use in recording or mixing with headphones. Enables surround mixes via headphones. Individually coordinated parameters can be saved. 360° Head-tracking with selectable sources. Adjustable room dimensions and speaker positions.

This suite really has some amazing tools, which is not surprising. Waves has always had some awesome industry-standard plug-ins. The price is definitely worth it for anyone who can afford to splurge, especially when there is a discount.

Using Stereo Plug-Ins

Believe it or not, if if feels like the surround plug-ins currently available are not enough, or if you want the specific sound of a certain reverb (for example) modelled from special analogue gear, then you will have to creatively use stereo plug-ins inside a surround mix. This will enable you to obtain that unique colouring you love so much about certain plug-ins. I sure have my own staple plug-ins that I couldn’t imagine producing without. And with some effort, I don’t have to give them up when doing an ambisonic mix! You might want to do 2-3 layers of the same reverb at different pre-delay or reflection times and surround panning in order to simulate a realistic space using stereo plug-ins. This requires some technical knowledge if you want to achieve realism. If you are only looking to create a “cool-sounding” effect, “eyeballing it” will be enough. For the more precise way of working, you will have to make calculations based on desired room size, material and similar. The calculations will not be super-precise, as the coefficients of absorption you can find online are only the average, and not accurate for the same material across different brands. Room reflections can be calculated more accurately though. It will require knowledge of how fast sound takes to reach a wall and then back to our ear, as well as how big the delay between our left and right ear is (in order to model realistic positions of objects). You will also have to take into consideration how many reflections will there be in the room you imagined.

Lastly, here is a video from Waves describing how stereo and surround plugi-ns can be used creatively together. This specific video showcases 5.1 surround mixing, but the same trick (with even higher fidelity) can be applied to any higher order ambisonics mix too:


Fortsetzung: Was ist ein Bild?

Doelkers Bildbegriff
Das Verständnis der Bildlichkeit wird laut Mitchell durch zeitliche, kulturelle, soziale und individuelle Wahrnehmungen, aber auch durch unserer Vorerfahrungen geprägt. Den Bildbegriff in der visuellen Kommunikationsforschung präzisiert der Medienpädagoge Christian Doelker mit seinen Überlegungen. Auch bei seiner theoretischen Betrachtung ist die Übertragbarkeit in eine materielle Form ein wesentliches Definitionskriterium für den Bildbegriff. Doelker führt die Überlegungen Mitchells jedoch weiter aus und unterscheidet in seinem komplexen Bildmodell zwischen Wahrnehmungsinhalt, Original bzw. Unikat und Kommunikat. 

Der Zusammenhang von Wahrnehmungsinhalt,  Original/Unikat und Kommunikat: Doelkers Bildbegriff

Der Ausdruck „Kommunikat“ weist auf die kommunikative Funktion von Bildern in Doelkers Modell als ein technisch reproduzierbares und vervielfältigbares Bild hin. Das Perzept bezeichnet das innere Bild einer Person. Dieses Bild kann zum Beispiel der Ausblick aus einem Fenster, das Betrachten eines Objekts oder eine Idee eines geistigen Bildes sein. Diese Art von Bild existiert in der Vorstellung der einzelnen Person und ist nicht-materiell und somit auch nicht übertragbar. Um diesen Inhalt anderen Personen zugänglich zu machen muss diese Vorstellung in eine materielle Form umgewandelt werden. Laut Doelker gibt es drei Möglichkeiten den Perzept festzuhalten. Entweder als Abbild (Punkt A), als Übernahme (Punkt Ü) oder als Eigengestaltung (Punkt E). Diese Möglichkeiten sind im Bildmodell in der Ebene „Original/Unikat“ dargestellt. Das Abbild A kann direkt auf ein Trägermaterial übertragen werden. Für dieses Modell spielt es keine Rolle, wie diese Übertragung erfolgt, zum Beispiel durch Zeichnen, Malen, Gestalten, Fotografieren oder Filmen. Als Übernahme Ü werden zum Beispiel Ausschnitte aus der Natur manifestiert, die nicht abgebildet, sondern fixiert werden. Diese Art der Manifestierung von Wahrnehmungsinhalten ist für die Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaften im Wesentlichen vernachlässigbar. Die letzte Möglichkeit, einen Perzept festzuhalten, ist die Eigengestaltung E. Wenn ein inneres Bild, auch ohne Bezug zur Wirklichkeit, manifestiert wird, tritt die Eigengestaltung auf. Zwischen den drei Möglichkeiten der Manifestierung gibt es viele Übergänge und Mischformen. Die Ebene „„Original/Unikat“ ist in der Ansicht Doelkers bereits bildhaft, das heißt, sobald ein Wahrnehmungsinhalt in ein manifeste Form überführt wurde, kann der Begriff Bild verwendet werden. Um im engeren Sinn den Bildbegriff verwenden zu können sind zwei Kriterien für die Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft von Interesse: Die Übertragbarkeit von Bildern und seine Kommunizierbarkeit. Das Kommunikat ist eine Reproduktion, also die technische Wiedergabe und Vervielfältigung des Originals mit der Möglichkeit, das Bild an ein breiteres Publikum zu kommunizieren.

Zusammenfassend besagt Doelkers Bildmodell, dass ein Bild entweder als Original oder Kommunikat auftreten kann. Perzepte dagegen werden nicht als Bilder definiert, da sie nicht materiell vorliegen. Diese werden erst zum Bild wenn sie einen materiell übertragbaren Charakter annehmen. Da Doelker wichtige immaterielle Bildphänomene nicht als Bilder betrachtet ist diese Form des Bildbegriffes als Grundlage für eine allgemeine Bildwissenschaft nicht einsetzbar. Für die Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft gibt er aber äußerst wichtige Impulse, indem er den Fokus bei der Definition von Bildern auf deren Übertragbarkeit legt. (Lobinger)

Lobinger Katharina Lobinger: Was ist ein Bild? Was ist ein Medienbild? In: A. Hepp, F. Krotz, W. Vogelgesang (Hrsg.): Visuelle Kommunikationsforschung. Medienbilder als Herausforderung für die Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft. Wiesbaden: Springer VS 2012, S. 51-70

Kenya Hara

“The concept of emptiness (utsu / emptiness), more precisely that of hollowness (karappo) is one these communication techniques. As soon as
People get in contact with each other, Do not throw information at each other one-sidedly, but usually make yourself a picture of their counterpart. Successful Understanding does not depend on how convincing an argument is, but rather how we listen to our counterparts. That is why people over the course of the History started to look out for something
To make communication usable, that resembles hollow vessels. Other than signs which in their meaning in a certain way for example, function unsurpassed in their simplicity Symbols like the red disk of the sun
the Japanese flag or a cross like large, hollow vessels that contain every image that people can absorb make of them. Under the concept of
The huge, empty rooms also fall empty of tombs or churches as well as teahouses or gardens. That got me initially moved to do something about the Write emptiness. But while I’m at it worked, I got on the trail of white.
On the tip of the spade that I use dug me through the subject of emptiness, lay suddenly the concept of white. Such as the word vacuum also has a deep meaning gripping relationship with emptiness – it came to me
like an object around which I mean Digging for the Void wouldn’t get around. So I decided to myself first of all to try something about
to write the tip of a spade before I do would write something about the void. If you’ve read this book, you can it happens that you don’t know anymore will simply be seen as white. The is a sign that you are a fine one
graduated perception developed to have. Presumably, what is really white suddenly becomes even brighter for you appear. The more sensitively you perceive white, the more sensitive you will become Differentiate shadows.”

– Kenya Hara, White

My own emotional branding case – Part 1

After researching the different aspects of emotion in design and branding, I take the next step and decide to create my own fictional case. For that, I took some time and started to look for a brand or organization that could take the role of the client for my campaign. Because of my interest in politics and social issues, I decided to inform myself about digital labour and new ways of work. Through the United Nations website, I found out about the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which understands itself as an intersection between governments, employers and workers. It consists out of 187 member states and promotes new standards for labour and respectable working conditions.

The ILO uses its platform to raise awareness for a diverse field of different problems, like digital labor platforms and how workers are treated. Digital apps like Uber or Liferando seem to have failed when it comes to worker’s rights and protection. The delivery drivers are treated as independent contractors, with no social benefits like pension coverage, health, or insurance plans. Due to the pandemic, the problems of those delivery drivers became even worse. Especially the situation in emerging countries continues to be tough and no safety measures to prevent a covid infection are taken. I think it is important to raise awareness of this topic and to support the IOL in their strive for better working conditions.



Couple of days ago, I watched a Netflix Documentary about designers and artist around the world. All of the parts are inspired, but one of them caught my attention the most. It is called “Bio-Architektur mit Neli Oxman”.

Neli Oxman — is an American–Israeli designer and professor at the MIT Media Lab, where she leads the Mediated Matter research group. She is known for art and architecture that combine design, biology, computing, and materials engineering.

Oxman writes about the world and environment as organisms, changing regularly and responding to use, full of gradients of color and physical properties rather than sharp boundaries. She proposed developing a material ecology with “holistic products, characterized by property gradients and multi-functionality” – in contrast to assembly lines and “a world made of parts”.

The innovations developed by Oxman and her team have enabled a new age of ‘biological alchemy’ whereby micro-organisms can be designed to mimic ‘factories’ and materials strategically augmented at their basic biological properties. These technologies offer a radical new approach to design and production in which almost any biomass can be transformed into biomaterials to be used for a variety of purposes, from the production of wearable garments to the construction of buildings. For example, E coli, a bacterium that lives in the gut, can be transformed into edible sugar; grass converted into diesel; and corn transfigured into plastic.

In this particular film she was working on the Aguahoja  project. The aim of the product is to show the use of alternative materials, instead of plastic. The Aguahoja collection (pronounced: agua-hocha) offers a material alternative to plastic subverting the toxic waste cycle through the creation of biopolymer composites that exhibit tunable properties with varied mechanical, optical, olfactory and even gustatory properties. These renewable and biocompatible polymers leverage the power of natural resource cycles and can be materially ‘programed’ to decay as they return to the earth, for purposes of fueling new growth.

Neri Oxman is using another way: organic structures embody more efficient and adaptable material properties compared with human-made ones, and leave no environmental marks. From a limited palette of molecular components, including cellulose, chitin, and pectin―the very same materials found in trees, crustaceans and apple skins―natural systems construct an extensive array of functional materials with no synthetic parallels.

Chitin, for instance, manifests in the form of thin, transparent dragonfly wings, as well as in the soft tissue of fungi. Cellulose makes up more than half of plant matter planet-wide. These materials, and the living systems they inhabit, outperform human engineering not only through their diversity of functions but also through their resilience, sustainability, and adaptability.

“Imagine the possibility of being able to create a digitally-printed, biologically-augmented beating heart that will perfectly match its host, for those in need of a transplant. There is then new potential to save millions of lives.”

03 | How do we communicate online? part 1

In terms of researching communication models (specifically online) I came across different perspectives which in my eyes are worth examining in my entries. I found a lot of literature about online communication from the years of approx. 1990-2000 which mainly focused on the differences of online and offline communication. Even Though there are further researches in recent years I find this fundamental quintessential for completely understanding my topic.

Computer-Mediated Communication or short CMC is basically describing human communication via networked computers. This communication form can be synchronous or asynchronous and is used to exchange text, audio, and/or video messages. The number of participants can differ from one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-many. The separation in synchronous or asynchronous communication is of great relevance in the term of CMC. Synchronous communication like via video or audio calls includes all participants in real time and happens simultaneously. As soon as the sender does not receive an immediate response from the receiver the communication is asynchronous. Examples for that would be mails and text messages. 

Early research focused on how the communication channel ‘computer’ changes our communication and how it differs from the way we used to communicate. At first, relatively negative aspects were highlighted, such as the lack of socio-contextual information (I touched on this in the first semester). Alternative models later emphasized that the user adapts to the limitations of the channels and develops alternative strategies (such as the use of emoticons). Furthermore it became clear that the boundary between the real and the virtual communication was more and more blurred and is now becoming interactive instead. But how does this affect our way of communicating? What are the advantages? The disadvantages? 

To find out more about this question I started with early research about CMC. I read the paper “Computer-Mediated Communication: Impersonal, Interpersonal, and Hyperpersonal Interaction” of Joseph B. Walther from 1996. In this paper, the term CMC includes only text-based communication. The main research question asked if CMC causes a limitation or liberation of communication and interaction. 

One common sense at that time was that CMC is highly impersonal, task-oriented and can only stay on an informative level due to the lack of social context cues. Alternative findings showed a contrasting picture: CMC was stated to be just as personal as FtF (face-to-face) interactions or even surpassed them. This was especially a conclusion of the examination of virtual communities, online friendships and online dating. With these perspectives in mind CMC seemed to have no consistent effects because of the contrasting results at that time. Walther wanted to identify common elements that play a role in all these outcomes. Therefore he first examines about the terms interpersonal and impersonal interactions regarding CMC:

Text-based CMC seems to be more impersonal because of the lack of nonverbal / social context cues. The message receiver cannot alter the mood of text messages and needs to interpret it. Alternative findings show that the user starts to adapt their communication to the limitation of only written communication and finds other cues in punctuation or language. Walther comes to the conclusion that CMC is not certainly less personal than FtF interaction but requires more time investment. The effective outcome of a CMC conversation is dependent on the familiarity of the participants and the conversation context (mediated, non-mediated). Regarding group work he suggests that it could be helpful to start the first brainstorm project phase via CMC and come together for the evaluation and decision phase in real life. In his point of view the first phase of brainstorming ideas can benefit from the non-hierarchical and more or less anonyme structure of CMC because each idea receives the same attention. For him, the second phase of evaluation and decision making needs more social context cues because the discussion enters a more personal level.

Of course the paper is a bit older and nowadays group work is not only limited to only CMC or FtF interactions. But I think it could be worthy to think about it a little closer since I came from a working background with old structures of endless mail and meeting conversations and discussion with no conclusion. Do we always choose the right media to communicate? Could we enhance our meetings with evaluating our communication channel from another, more thought through perspective? We are so used to communicate via text messages and sometimes forget that everyone has another ‘decoding’ system for it. For example exclamation marks: Sometimes we use them more or less unintentionally but they can have a major effect on the sender’s interpretation of the intonation. Just look at this sentence and reflect how you read it and how you felt while reading:

  1. I don’t think so!!
  2. I don’t think so.

I could bet that the first sentence feels more aggressive than the second one did. Or did it didn’t bother you at all? I will never know, because my decoding system will always differ (no matter if in a large or small scale) from others. The same goes with the usage of emojis. Some of them seem to have a single minded message but can be decoded in different ways. An example for that can be the winking smiley 😉 For some it is just a blink of an eye, for others something ambiguous and for some it is even a passive aggressive gesture of provocation.

Sources:,%2C%20and%2For%20video%20messages (last review: 18.04.2021)
– Joseph B. Walther: “Computer-Mediated Communication: Impersonal, Interpersonal, and Hyperpersonal Interaction”, 1996,

Granular Synthesis in PD Part II

Load an Audio File

Now let’s load an actual audio wave file. It’s important that pure data knows the size of the file and the maximum length a grain should have. The horizontal slider has values between 0 and 1 and making all the values relative to the selected file size and maximum grain length.

Loading an Audio File; Source: Kaliakatsos-Papkostas, 2016

Select starting and ending point on the file / Modifying the envelope

To select a starting and ending point of the grain a good way is to use the line~ object that allow to read from any index to any index of the audio file. In the following figure the starting index is selected on the left side, the length in the middle and the playback time on the right side of the patch. By hitting bang on top you can play it. The f object is suppressing the bang because the order of bangs is very important for the line~ object. First comes the starting index directly, second the duration and third to play the file.

On the right part of the following patch the envelope is integrated. It receives the time length from the number box that sets the grain duration time.

Selecting starting and ending position and modifying the envelope lenth Source.

Analog / Digital – Reality Is Analog

In my first posting on my research about analog and digital, I stated that in today’s tech companies there’s a high awareness for analog methods and processes. This interesting fact came out of the book The Revenge Of Analog by Canadian journalist David Sax in 2016. The book gives an overview about analog tools and media and how vinyl records, paper notebooks, films and board games conquer with their digital pendants. In addition Sax describes analog approaches in publishing, work and school.

However, the final chapter of the book deals with “The Revenge of Analog, in Digital“. For this chapter David Sax visited numerous high tech companies in Silicon Valley, speaking to project managers, designers and founders. Throughout the interviews Sax found out that in the very digital world of software developing giants, there’s not only a high level of appreciation for analog methods and processes, but also for the awareness of the analog nature that’s inherent to humans and their use of the five senses.

At Adobe Scott Unterberg, back then project manager for the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of programs, started with daily meditation sessions, which soon was attended by more and more employees, taking 15 minutes a day away from screens and technology. As the positive effects attendees’ stress levels were found to be lowered and likewise their health was improved. This seemed reason enough for Adobe to enroll the so called Project Breathe all over their global offices and meditation sessions became common, practically mandatory, throughout the Silicon Valley like Google’s Search Inside Yourself program.

On the more practical side, Kush Amerasinghe, scientist and strategic executive at Adobe helped to create the Adobe Kickbox Personal Innovation Kit. The kit is basically a box filled with post-it notes, instructions for taking an idea from scratch to reality, coffee and chocolate, pens and pencils, paper notebooks and $1,000 prepaid credit card. The initiative behind this emergency box was “…to focus on the idea, and not get constrained by the nitty gritty of technology. Programmers inherently have a bad habit of jumping into code and building when they get an idea.“

A similar phenomenon was described by John Skidgel, UX designer at Google – “Computer design software immediately looks real, and because of this, designers too often get caught up in precise but utterly pointless details.“ That’s why Skidgel, himself always sketching first drafts on paper, started courses for designers, where they would learn to draw vertical lines, horizontal lines, dotted lines, shadings or text boxes as tools in order to “enable Google’s designers to focus on quickly and effectively communicating new ideas, without getting mired in the infinitely adjustable variables that design software allows“. This sketching classes were so effective that Skidgel’s course is now taught to all Google UX and UI designers world-wide.

Besides meditation and analog approaches in developing ideas, David Sax, on his tour through Silicon Valley, also realized that in contrast to the very virtual software developed at the companies, the interior somehow seemed to ground the staff in the very real world of analog things. At Yelp he found classic white boards used as platforms to exchange ideas all over the place. At Pinterest he met brand design manager Evertett Katigbak, who had a background in letterpress printing. Katigbak told Sax about his time when he worked at Facebook. Together with designer Ben Barry they set up some printing equipment in the Facebook warehouse, initially to come over “frustration over an obsession with data and metrics [and the printshop being] an attempt to humanize the brand for an internal audience, and to humanize the user.“ For a joke they called it the Analog Research Laboratory, producing signs with slogans such as “If It Works, It’s Obsolete“ and “every possible variation on the word “hack“ and its use in phrase.“

When Mark Zuckerberg heard about their signs, he asked them to produce two hand-printed signs for Facebook’s annual app developer conference. The popularity of these signs resulted in the Analog Research Laboratory becoming part of Facebook’s corporate structure with fixed space, budget and eventually full-time stuff.

Another aspect that David Sax mentioned was the limits of digital technology. Not only that human intelligence makes a good add on to artificial intelligence used to suggest contents on Twitter, Youtube or Instagram, the concept of human-in-the-loop is also part of critical infrastructure as nuclear power plants, military systems as well as airplanes. Besides, computer engineers have concerns that in digital computing, processors are constantly gaining in speed, while energy efficiency is relatively stagnant, which in future may result in problems with power supplies. A solution to this could be analog computing, a theoretic technology which doesn’t work with exact calculations of 1’s and 0’s but rather approximate calculations, recognizing patterns and thus using far less energy.

Finally, as digital media is screen based, it hardly addresses any sense but vision and hearing. Blaise Bertrand, director of industrial design at design firm IDEO warns that there is an “impoverishment of senses“ due to the attraction of digital media that pulls people into the screens. On the other hand Bertrand is confident that “those who would build the technologies that really could change the world were the ones who readily acknowledged the limits of digital and the benefits of analog.“ Dan Shapiro, founder of Glowforge that produces 3-D laser cutters, brings it to the point – “Reality is Analog.“ Digital is only a way to best possibly represent our world and the reality we live in.

Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired magazine, a technology idealist who is known to “see digital technology as a force for ultimate good“, himself is aware of the multisensory fascination of analog. In the spirit of the Whole Earth Catalog, a collection of product reviews and (critical) essays from the 1960s and 1970s, Kelly started a blog called Cool Tools for which he reviewed one tool per day. However he kept feeling that there was a lack of experience, that “online simply couldn’t achieve“. Later, browsing through editions of the Whole Earth Catalog, he realized that the large format, rather mixed layout and the intuitive navigation through the book by simply turning the pages was the reason for the mesmerizing effect of the catalogs. Therefore in 2013 he published Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities in printed, approximately A3 format to “recapture that missing 5 percent that the web couldn’t do.“

David Sax, who received a copy of Kelly’s book, didn’t only make the experience himself, but observed that visiting friends immediately got sucked in when they opened the large book that got their attention by simply lying on the coffee table. The reason for this Sax didn’t credit to the book’s content but rather “quirky appeal” and “ sheer analog nature of the damn thing.” However Kelly added that “right now, Cool Tools had to be on paper. But in fifty years that may not be true.”

Revenge Of The Analog, David Sax, 2016