When I was about half the age I am now, I wanted to be a composer. I was told contemporary musicians use Apple laptops to make all sorts of interesting sounds. Because I could not afford an Apple computer, I built an electronic instrument that could be played by touching a real apple (the fruit), which was serving as a variable resistor.
A lot has happened since then. Instead of writing notes, I started writing code. My love for building interactive objects grew and was joined by a passion for science, experimentation and creative research. This lead me to study Audiovisual Media (BEng) in my hometown Stuttgart (Stuttgart Media University, Germany) and subsequently Media Technology (MSc) at Leiden University in the Netherlands. My studies went hand in hand with playing self-build instruments in experimental music ensembles and presenting both scientific as well as artistic projects at conferences, festival, contests, concerts and exhibitions.
Currently, I am a researcher at the “Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence” group at Tilburg University and a PhD student at the Media Technology research group at Leiden University. In my research, I study the relationships between the virtual and the real in augmented reality (AR) and in particular those new and unique AR experiences that don’t exist in the purely physical realm. During my PhD trajectory, I have built AR scenarios in which virtual and real objects interact in novel ways, as well as invented a new, non-visual form of AR that allows participants to experience the presence of virtual objects in real space by means of touch and spatial audio.
Aside from doing research, I work as a lecturer. I am developing and teaching courses on human-computer interaction, augmented and virtual reality, data visualization, interaction design, usability and programming. In addition to teaching students, I am also interested in communicating science to a broader audience with both conventional and unconventional kinds of media. I have acted as the editor-in-chief of the AR[t] magazine, in which researchers from all over the world share their interest in Augmented Reality, discuss its applications in the arts and provide insight into the underlying technology.
While I still like to play with low-cost electronics, I own a laptop by now. However, my early experiments have taught me that creating something new is a matter of imagination rather than of hardware or software. For me, imagination is fueled by experimentation. I believe that in order to create new experiences and technologies, thinking outside the box is not enough. We also have to invent the box, build the box, shake the box, break the box and observe how others interact with it. That’s why I am looking for a place where I can work on hands-on user-centered research and development projects.