Face of Sebastian Pettirsch

Sebastian Pettirsch

Thesis Student

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Hello everyone,

I wrote my Master's thesis on evaluating targeting techniques to control smart home devices with Oliver Nowak as my supervisor.


In today’s homes, the number of controllable devices is rising rapidly. Almost all types of devices are becoming smart and controllable. Modern controls, like voice assistants, universal remotes, and smartphones are not optimized for controlling single targets in a room, making the interaction cumbersome. Therefore we propose to use a stationary and haptically explorable controller that offers the user to select individual devices in a room. Spatial mappings should be used to make the mapping of the controller—the relation between input and device—intuitive to understand.

In this thesis, we present the design, construction, and evaluation of five controllers for target selection in real-world environments. These use spatial mapping techniques of different abstraction levels. Three controllers, Pillar Map, Zelda Map, and Cluster Map follow an absolute approach, mapping the devices in the room to a map with buttons. The other two, Direction Swiping Controller and Sun Controller use a relative approach and map devices to user input based on the position of the target relative to the user. In a user study, we evaluated and compared the five controllers on their targeting time and accuracy. Participants selected targets in an exemplary living room using each of the controllers. The exemplary living room was designed to cover edge cases and common target patterns. The study was conducted across different positions in the room and the controllers were tested inside and outside the users’ field of view. Additionally, we explored the effect the targets’ positions had on the performance.

For interaction with vision, the results showed that controllers with lower abstraction levels, like the Pillar Map and Cluster Map perform better. For eyes-free interaction, the mapping should either have tactile elements that are easy to recognize, like the Pillar Map, or should work without visual and tactile cues, like the Direction Swiping Controller.



  • Sebastian Pettirsch. Spatial Mappings in the Home: Evaluating Targeting Techniques to Control Smart Home Devices. Master's Thesis, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, June 2022.
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