Volunteer Spotlight: Reinhard Moeller

reinhard moeller

Transactions on Haptics Management Committee Chair Reinhard Moeller discusses his career and offers encouragement to junior researchers.

For more information, please visit IEEE Transactions on Haptics.

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Q. Tell me a little about your research area and what motivated you to get into it?

A. Back in the eighties, with a background in automation and process control engineering as well as computer graphics, I was very soon faced with the problems of human-computer interaction. Human "servant" operators connected to a computer were being presented artificial information about a process under control. Most often, this information was presented as text or semi-graphic symbols. Full color graphics was the rising technology and haptics was just at its very beginning. Here came the motivation:
The main question that moved me was how a human could come back to the real feel and see while controlling a technical process.
I started my research on computer graphics interfaces for process control and visual simulation of technical processes. Getting insight with scientific visualization was another field. Soon the inherent multi-modality of human interaction came into my focus, as well as augmented reality. All this has at last become the basis for my actual research field in human-process interaction.

Q. What are some of your proudest accomplishments?

A. My research group invented a first low-cost visual traffic simulator long before graphics was implemented into user workstations. A haptic interface was built using a real car with force-feedback controls while the visual interface was presented on a 150 degree field of view multi-screen. Since then, our ongoing research on information presentation and interaction has influenced inventions in control engineering. We developed an integrated control, archive and training system for chemical reactors, for example. The system incorporates AR methodology to present geometry and multi-channel data visualization. Also, we invented the design of a multimodal system for remote operation, control, and maintenance in the printing machines industries.

Q. What motivated you to become involved with ToH?

A. Linking to the haptics community is self-evidently a motivation, as haptics is a very important part of human interaction. Especially in consumer electronics, haptics has become a focus to many researchers. I have been actively organizing tracks on interactive devices and systems for the IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE) for several years now. Being a member of the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society (CE Society), I was asked in 2008 to become liaison of CE Society to ToH, a task I gladly accepted.

Q. What is the best part of being a member of the Management Committee and will you encourage others to take up this role?

A. Sure. I am proud to be linked to the front group of a highly respected IEEE journal. I would definitely encourage everyone active in a community related to haptics or at least to HCI to apply for a voluntary service to the ToH management committee- but as well to the editorial board as an associate editor or reviewer. You will get the opportunity to frame the future of your field of interest. You can also contribute to linking your community to that of the haptics community.

Q. How do you see your research field shaping up and what are the major directions?

A. Whether it is a consumer electronics device, an intelligent home or work environment, or any technical device or process, human interaction is on focus. Visual and haptical as well as auditive and olfactorial senses and skills used in conjunction with mental models can make interaction much more intuitive and efficient. Today's haptics research has been boosted by VR/AR technologies and by the design of taction based, often mobile devices. This may direct research to new interaction paradigms that are not limited to audio or visual feedback.

Q. What advice would you give to junior researchers and graduate students?

A. Be pro-active in any case. Concerning research, if you are in HMI think of haptics as an important means of human interaction. There is still a lot to do to make haptics interfaces for devices or computers simulate the "real feel" of the physical environment. And, like gesture recognition, haptics research offers you enough challenges to invent new ways of interaction between human and technical environment.
Concerning committee activities, never be shy. Being active in a professional or scientific committee is an invaluable opportunity to gain knowledge and boost your career. Start as early as possible to enhance your professional community network.

Q. What profession would you be in if you weren't in this field?

A. I will never have to consider this. My profession is my passion.