Fall semester 2021

Community-owned gig driver platform

Ride sharing and delivery companies represent one of the major industries in the gig-economy. A common claim of the gig-economy – e.g. from Uber – is that workers may work ‘whenever they want’, ’wherever they want’, and that they can ‘be their own boss’. This claim, at least in the case of Uber, is not always supported by Uber and its platform. This is primarily due to the various barriers that drivers face to their agency in terms of information/power asymmetries, algorithmic management, and emotional labor. The motivation of this review is to support an early-state research on developing alternatives to existing gig driver platforms, specifically to be community-owned.


Ma, N. F., Yuan, C. W., Ghafurian, M., & Hanrahan, B. V. (2018, April). Using stakeholder theory to examine drivers' Stake in Uber. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-12).

Glöss, M., McGregor, M., & Brown, B. (2016, May). Designing for labour: uber and the on-demand mobile workforce. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1632-1643).

Reference person:

  • Sailin Zhong

Community-owned gig-driver platform alternative - François-Xavier Wicht

full paper

Numerous criticism have been levelled at Uber and the gig-driver platforms over the years, whether with regard to the status of the drivers, the opacity of the ratings and the rides assignation mechanism, or the power imbalance between the drivers and the platform. In this paper, we address these criticism by targeting the individualistic nature of gig-driver platforms and thus formulating a community-owned alternative. However, a proof of concept is required to show the feasibility of this project. To address this, we describe the outline of a possible experiment. It involves volunteers who would use a mobile application to simulate a community-owned alternative to gig-driver platforms. This experiment can potentially be the subject of another paper in which the experiment is conducted and analysed in more details.

Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation – Applicability for Visually Impaired Individuals

Virtual reality has been used in many contexts; from games, to phobia treatment but also for rehabilitation purposes. We would like to investigate its potential to rehabilitate or assist during the rehabilitation of individuals who are visually impaired. In this seminar the student will precise the notion of visual impairment, review the domain of rehabilitation in virtual reality, investigate works focused on visually impaired individuals and potentially propose an new experiment/system that could be useful in this context.


Paul N. Wilson, Nigel Foreman & Danaë Stanton (1997) Virtual reality, disability and rehabilitation, Disability and Rehabilitation, 19:6, 213-220, DOI: https://doi.org/10.3109/09638289709166530

Krasovsky, T., Lubetzky, A.V., Archambault, P.S. et al. Will virtual rehabilitation replace clinicians: a contemporary debate about technological versus human obsolescence. J NeuroEngineering Rehabil 17, 163 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12984-020-00769-0

Pedroli, E., Serino, S., Cipresso, P., Pallavicini, F. and Riva, G. 2015. Assessment and rehabilitation of neglect using virtual reality: A systematic review. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 9, AUGUST (2015). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00226

Lauren Thevin, Carine Briant, and Anke M. Brock. 2020. X-Road: Virtual Reality Glasses for Orientation and Mobility Training of People with Visual Impairments. ACM Trans. Access. Comput. 13, 2, Article 7 (August 2020), 47 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3377879

Reference person :

  • Dr Simon Ruffieux

Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation, Applicability for Visually Impaired Individuals - Klodinë Dërguti

full paper

Developing navigation systems that can guide visually impaired and blind people in outdoor scenarios has remained a challenge for decades. One of the growing technologies that have shown high potential to train orientation and mobility (OM) skills to visually impaired people (VIP) is virtual reality (VR). Despite the advent of VR technology, VR has only recently begun to be adopted in OM rehabilitation settings. That’s why the range of interactions available to VIP has remained limited. To fully immerse VIP in the world of VR whether through visual, auditory, or haptic channels a detailed amount of work for each of these is needed. The objective of this paper is to examine the past years of research and development on the role of VR in OM rehabilitation. In this context, this paper offers a concise overview of the current state of the art of VR applications for blind and visually impaired users. To this end, previous solutions will be briefly described and analyzed so that the results can have the potential to influence future research and the development of new OM aid that could enhance navigation abilities. In addition, we will propose ideas that could enhance VR OM training, in order for the VIP to achieve similar skill gains as in real-world training.

How to foster error handling by operators in the industrial context, applied to collaborative robotics?

The industry 4.0 is profoundly affecting the manufacturing sector because of its vision of automation. Cyber-physical systems (CPS), like collaborative robots (cobots), bring new opportunities for this revolution, but employees need to develop new skills to foster this transition (Fantini et al., 2020).

At the Bern University of Applied Sciences, we are developing a robotic cell that tries to bring a solution to this problem, using the help of no-code programming, AR/VR tools and cobots. The use of different CPS brings us the opportunity to provide to the user a maximum of information about its state, important to allow the correction of a task in case of failure. The goal of this project is to analyze the state of the art of error management approaches, to provide a guideline to the user in case of failure, and apply it to our system as a use case.


Placing the operator at the centre of Industry 4.0 design: Modelling and assessing human activities within cyber-physical systems (Fantini et al., 2020)

Human–robot interaction in industrial collaborative robotics: a literature review of the decade 2008–2017 (Hentout et al., 2019)

Reference person :

  • Charly Blanc

How to foster error-handling guidelines in collaborative robots? - Suada Abukar

full paper

Through the introduction of Industry 4.0 robots become increasingly autonomous. However, they are still bound to make errors. Due to the difference of the communication language between humans and robots, understanding and fixing errors is not a trivial task. To understand how errors are handled in human-robot interaction, a literature review was done and different error-handling strategies were examined. Lastly, we propose an experiment to compare two error-handling strategies and evaluate which strategy is perceived as more trustworthy and helpful in handling errors

Automatic handling of office lighting

The biggest source of energy consumption in modern office environments is lighting. Lighting automation in office spaces has been proven over the years to be an effective way of reducing energy consumption considerably. However, most existing lighting automation techniques do not allow for personalisation and are cumbersome for office workers. The important advantages in terms of energy consumption reduction are thus often counterbalanced by user discomfort, leading to consequent development of techniques to bypass lighting automation. Viable, customisable and human-centred lighting automation strategies are thus researched in order to provide at the same time energy efficient and productive office environment.

The idea for this seminar is thus researching strategies to automate CCT (Correlated Color Temperature) in a human-centric way through the use of task lights and analyze possible advantages of this techniques over a fixed CCT control in a non-controlled ("in the wild") setting.


Xiaodong Chen, Xin Zhang, Jiangtao Du, The potential of circadian lighting in office buildings using a fibre optics daylighting system in Beijing, Building and Environment, Volume 182, 2020, 107118, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2020.107118

Reference person :

  • Moreno Colombo
  • Dr Julien Nembrini

Automatic handling of office lighting with special focus on correlated color temperature - Noah Bühlmann

full paper

Traditional office lighting automation has mainly focused on reducing energy consumption. In this paper, we perform a literature review of automatic handling of office lighting in a human-centered way, with a special focus on correlated color temperature. With health effects, productivity impacts, preference learning, and balancing energy consumption with visual comfort we have identified four research directions that are of interest in this field, and for each we report the major findings from literature. Additionally, we present in detail the results of three selected papers, including a promising approach to fully automate office lighting. We synthesize our results by proposing an adapted approach that could be used to automate correlated color temperature in the future in order to implement a human-centered lighting system. Finally, we describe an experiment that can be used to evaluate future lighting systems in a field test.

Digital technology support for co-working spaces

The recent success of co-working spaces raised the question of the quality of the working environment they provide. Co-workers have conflicting aims and seek at the same time interaction and production supporting conditions. Co-working spaces themselves have to provide comfortable environments fostering both serendipity and focused work, struggling with parameters such as air quality, acoustic comfort, food smells, etc. The review will concentrate on what kind of technological support hardware and/or software would enhance the interaction specificities that users seek in co-working spaces.


Lee, A., Toombs, A. L., Erickson, I., Nemer, D., Ho, Y., Jo, E., & Guo, Z. (2019). The Social Infrastructure of Co-spaces: Home, Work, and Sociable Places for Digital Nomads. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 3(CSCW), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1145/3359244

Miller, C., Sood, T., & Janssen, P. (2020). Spacematch: Using Environmental Preferences to Match Occupants to Suitable Activity-Based Workspaces. Frontiers in Built Environment, 6, 13.

Verma, H., Alavi, H. S., & Lalanne, D. (2017). Studying Space Use: Bringing HCI Tools to Architectural Projects. Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 3856–3866. https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3026055

Reference person :

  • Dr Julien Nembrini

Effect of sound masking in co-working spaces - Yanisa Butphrom

full paper

Co-working spaces are a new type of working environment where people from different companies work in the same place. Noise is one of the main disturbing factors in these spaces. The primary objective of this research is to investigate the effects of noise on the satisfaction of occupants of co-working spaces. There are various ways to reduce noise; one of these ways is to use sound masking devices. This paper will test the beneficial effects of sound masking devices to reduce noise levels in co-working spaces. In order to conduct the experiment, two groups will work simultaneously in different rooms for several days, and their satisfaction will be evaluated. The results should show that participants would be more satisfied, more productive, and more focused when working in a co-working environment with sound masking devices.