Research

You can (or will) find a list of my research on this page. This includes published work, calls for theses projects and other opportunities to collaborate. This site is always work-in-progress. If you have questions, best just reach out to me.

About Me

I am a doctoral candidate at the Informatics (or Computer Science as Non-Germans would call it) department of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich and the Usable Security Group of the CODE institute at the University of the Bundeswehr. There I am researching on how we can build usable cryptocurrency wallets . Since end of 2020 I am pursuing a second doctoral degree in parallel at TUM's Chair for Strategy and Organization trying to figure out what makes entrepreneurship education work .


I am pursuing my research next to my work at the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM), where I run the add-on study program (Honor's Degree) Technology Management. Together with my colleagues we aim to connect, educate and empower 25 motivated students – future innovators – each semester.


To find out more about me, feel free to have a look at my private website as well.

Publications

Below you find scientific papers I co-authored that are either published or in press. You also might want to check-out my profiles on Google Scholar, Semantic Scholar, Research Gate, ORCID, and ACM.


Proceedings of the 2022 International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (ICL) (in press)
Prototyping With Blockchain: A Case Study For Teaching Blockchain Application Development at University
Michael Fröhlich, Jose Adrian Vega Vermehren, Amelie Pahl, Sergej Lotz, Florian Alt, Albrecht Schmidt, Isabell Welpe
Blockchain technology is believed to have a potential for innovation comparable to the early internet. However, it is difficult to understand, learn, and use. A particular challenge for teaching software engineering of blockchain applications is identifying suitable use cases: When does a decentralized application running on smart contracts offer advantages over a classic distributed software architecture?This question extends the realms of software engineering and connects to fundamental economic aspects of ownership and incentive systems. The lack of usability of today’s blockchain applications indicates that often applications without a clear advantage are developed. At the same time, there exists little information for educators on how to teach applied blockchain application development. We argue that an interdisciplinary teaching approach can address these issues and equip the next generation of blockchain developers with the skills and entrepreneurial mindset to build valuable and usable products. To this end, we developed, conducted, and evaluated an interdisciplinary capstone-like course grounded in the design sprint method with N=11 graduate students.Our pre-/post evaluation indicates high efficacy: Participants improved across all measured learning dimensions, particularly use-case identification and blockchain prototyping in teams.We contribute the syllabus, a detailed evaluation, and lessons learned for educators.
(preprint)
TruEyes: Utilizing Microtasks in Mobile Apps for Crowdsourced Labeling of Machine Learning Datasets
Chandramohan Sudar, Michael Fröhlich, Florian Alt
The growing use of supervised machine learning in research and industry has increased the need for labeled datasets.Crowdsourcing has emerged as a popular method to create data labels.However, working on large batches of tasks leads to worker fatigue, negatively impacting labeling quality.To address this, we present TruEyes, a collaborative crowdsourcing system, enabling the distribution of micro-tasks to mobile app users.TruEyes allows machine learning practitioners to publish labeling tasks, mobile app developers to integrate task ads for monetization, and users to label data instead of watching advertisements. To evaluate the system, we conducted an experiment with N=296 participants.Our results show that the quality of the labeled data is comparable to traditional crowdsourcing approaches and most users prefer task ads over traditional ads. We discuss extensions to the system and address how mobile advertisement space can be used as a productive resource in the future.
Proceedings of the 2022 Nordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference (NordiCHI)
Implementation and Evaluation of a Point-Of-Sale Payment System Using Bitcoin Lightning
Michael Fröhlich, Jose Adrian Vega Vermehren, Florian Alt, Albrecht Schmidt
Cryptocurrencies have the potential to improve financial inclusion. However, the technology is complex to understand and difficult to use. Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) can play a vital role in improving accessibility by identifying and overcoming challenges that hold users back. However, most HCI studies have focused only on Bitcoin and Ethereum so far. Newer blockchains promise transaction speeds comparable to traditional payment systems, enabling the use of cryptocurrencies as a medium of exchange for everyday transactions. To explore the viability of cryptocurrency-based point-of-sale solutions through a human-centered lens, we used Bitcoin Lightning to implement a payment system and evaluated it in a mixed-methods study. Our results show that Bitcoin Lightning is a usable alternative to traditional solutions and that friction aggregates at the interface to existing payment systems, i.e. when purchasing Bitcoin. We discuss qualitative insights and derive implications for deploying cryptocurrencies as payment solutions.
Adjunct Proceedings of the 2022 Nordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference (NordiCHI)
Supporting Interface Experimentation for Blockchain Applications
Michael Fröhlich, Benjamin Moser, Florian Alt, Albrecht Schmidt
There is an increasingly diverse range of smart-contract blockchains on which decentralized applications (dApps) are built. However, HCI research has so far failed to address them, focusing primarily on Bitcoin and Ethereum. This is problematic as these new blockchains come with an increasingly diverse set of properties that influence the usability of dApps for end-users. For blockchain interface design guidelines to be valuable for practitioners, they need to acknowledge the heterogeneity of blockchains. However, evaluating novel interface concepts across different blockchains is resource-intensive as each blockchain has to be integrated manually, slowing down research. To address this challenge, we propose a system to support interface experimentation for blockchain applications. The system allows researchers and developers to connect interfaces to a unified API simulating different blockchains and facilitates the configuration, distribution, and evaluation of online experiments. A preliminary evaluation showed promising results.
Proceedings of the International Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces (AVI)
“Secure settings are quick and easy!” – Motivating End-Users to Choose Secure Smart Home Configurations
Sarah Prange, Niklas Thiem, Michael Fröhlich, Florian Alt
While offering many useful features, novel smart home devices also provide an attack surface to users' allegedly secure place: their homes. Thus, it is essential to employ effective threat mitigation strategies, such as securely configuring devices. We investigate how users can be motivated to do so. To foster secure actions, we designed two types of nudges based on the Protection Motivation Theory (PMT): one with low and one with high level of detail. As such, our nudges particularly target users' threat appraisal (including perceived severity and likelihood of threats) and self-efficacy to take action. In a randomized online experiment (N=210), we simulated a smart home setup procedure. Participants chose significantly more secure configurations when being provided with detailed nudges, and indicated higher perceived threat and coping appraisal (i.e., higher protection motivation) after the experiment. Based on our results, we discuss the design and deployment of nudges for (future) smart home setup procedures. Our work can help to a) increase users' threat awareness in general, and b) motivate users to take actions such as securely configuring their devices.
Proceedings of the 2022 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency in Human Computer Interaction: A Systematic Literature Review and Research Agenda
Michael Fröhlich, Franz Waltenberger, Ludwig Trotter, Florian Alt, Albrecht Schmidt
We present a systematic literature review of cryptocurrency and blockchain research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) published between 2014 and 2021. We aim to provide an overview of the field, consolidate existing knowledge, and chart paths for future research. Our analysis of 99 articles identifies six major themes: (1) the role of trust, (2) understanding motivation, risk, and perception of cryptocurrencies, (3) cryptocurrency wallets, (4) engaging users with blockchain, (5) using blockchain for application-specific use cases, and (6) support tools for blockchain. We discuss the focus of the existing research body and juxtapose it to the changing landscape of emerging blockchain technologies to highlight future research avenues for HCI and interaction design. With this review, we identify key aspects where interaction design is critical for the adoption of blockchain systems. Doing so, we provide a starting point for new scholars and designers and help them position future contributions.
Proceedings of the 2022 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference
Designing Trustworthy User Interfaces for the Voluntary Carbon Market: A Randomized Online Experiment
Klaudia Guzij, Michael Fröhlich, Florian Fincke, Albrecht Schmidt, Florian Alt
The voluntary carbon market is an important building block in the fight against climate change. However, it is not trivial for consumers to verify whether carbon offset projects deliver what they promise. While technical solutions for measuring their impact are emerging, there is a lack of understanding of how to translate this data into interface designs that mediate the establishment of trust. With interaction between users and offset projects mainly happening online, it is critical to meet this design challenge. To this end, we designed and evaluated interfaces with varying trust cues for carbon offset projects in a randomized online experiment (n=244). Our results show that content design, particularly financial and forest-related quantitative data presented at the right detail level, increases the perceived trustworthiness, while images have no significant effect. We contribute the first specific guidance for interface designers for carbon offsets and discuss implications for interaction design.
Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Blockchain Technology and Applications (ICBTA) 2021
Under Pressure. A User-Centered Threat Model for Cryptocurrency Owners
Michael Fröhlich, Philipp Hulm, Florian Alt
Cryptocurrencies have gained popularity in recent years. However, for many users, keeping ownership of their cryptocurrency is a complex task. News reports frequently bear witness to scams, hacked exchanges, and fortunes beyond retrieval. However, we lack a systematic understanding of user-centered cryptocurrency threats, as causes leading to loss are scattered across publications. To address this gap, we conducted a focus group (n=6) and an expert elicitation study (n=25) following a three-round Delphi process with a heterogeneous group of blockchain and security experts from academia and industry. We contribute the first systematic overview of threats cryptocurrency users are exposed to and propose six overarching categories. Our work is complemented by a discussion on how the human-computer-interaction community can address these threats and how practitioners can use the model to understand situations in which users might find themselves under the pressure of an attack to ultimately engineer more secure systems.
Proceedings of the 2021 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference
Is It Better With Onboarding? Improving First-Time Cryptocurrency App Experiences
Michael Fröhlich, Charlotte Kobiella, Albrecht Schmidt, Florian Alt
Engaging first-time users of mobile apps is challenging. Onboarding task flows are designed to minimize the drop out of users. To this point, there is little scientific insight into how to design these task flows. We explore this question with a specific focus on financial applications, which pose a particularly high hurdle and require significant trust. We address this question by combining two approaches. We first conducted semi-structured interviews (n=16) exploring users' meaning-making when engaging with new mobile applications in general. We then prototyped and evaluated onboarding task flows (n=16) for two mobile cryptocurrency apps using the minimalist instruction framework. Our results suggest that well-designed onboarding processes can improve the perceived usability of first-time users for feature-rich mobile apps. We discuss how the expectations users voiced during the interview study can be met by applying instructional design principles and reason that the minimalist instruction framework for mobile onboarding insights presents itself as a useful design method for practitioners to develop onboarding processes and also identify when not to.
Proceedings of the 2021 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference
Don't Stop Me Now! Exploring Challenges Of First-Time Cryptocurrency Users
Michael Fröhlich, Maurizio Wagenhaus, Albrecht Schmidt, Florian Alt
Cryptocurrencies have increasingly gained interest in practice and research alike. Current research in the HCI community predominantly focuses on understanding the behavior of existing cryptocurrency users. Little attention has been given to early users and the challenges they encounter. However, understanding how interfaces of cryptocurrency systems support, impede, or even prevent adoption through new users is essential to develop better, more inclusive solutions. To close this gap, we conducted a user study (n=34) exploring challenges first-time cryptocurrency users face. Our analysis reveals that even popular wallets are not designed for novice users' needs, stopping them when they would be ready to engage with the technology. We identify multiple challenges ranging from general user interface issues to finance and cryptocurrency-specific ones. We argue that these challenges can and should be addressed by the HCI community and present implications for building better cryptocurrency systems for novice users.
Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference
Don't lose your coin! Investigating Security Practices of Cryptocurrency Users
Michael Fröhlich, Felix Gutjahr, Florian Alt
In recent years, cryptocurrencies have increasingly gained interest. The underlying technology, Blockchain, shifts the responsibility for securing assets to the end-user and requires them to manage their (private) keys. Little attention has been given to how cryptocurrency users handle the challenges of key management in practice and how they select the tools to do so. To close this gap, we conducted semi-structured interviews (N=10). Our thematic analysis revealed prominent themes surrounding motivation, risk assessment, and coin management tool usage in practice. We found that the choice of tools is driven by how users assess and balance the key risks that can lead to loss: the risk of (1) human error, (2) betrayal, and (3) malicious attacks. We derive a model, explaining how risk assessment and intended usage drive the decision which tools to use. Our work is complemented by discussing design implications for building systems for the crypto economy.

Theses

I have supervised 30+ theses at TUM and LMU and enjoy moving research projects forward through collaboration. I am not actively looking for new projects at the moment.


If you are interested in on of the following topics feel free to reach out via froehlich@cdtm.de and I will try my best to help.

  • evaluate the impact of entrepreneurship education
  • figure out what factors excellent entrepreneurship courses have in common
  • understand how founding teams can suceed together
  • shedding light on how we can foster female entrepreneurship
  • understand whether grit is predictive for startup success


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