CHI day 4 aka the end!

The last day of CHI in Seoul left everyone with that bittersweet taste of ending mixed with nostalgia and, was still a great day to see great research!

For me, the day started off with Augmented & Virtual Reality in the Real World (VR is here to stay!) and followed onto Interacting with Floors & Situated Displays (have you seen BaseLase? Check that video or the image below, quite an interesting approach to a portable large screen).

baselase

The last session of the CHI spectrum this year was Speech & Auditory Interfaces, which focused on lots of abstract sound UIs — really nice works there, go check it out if you are into sonic interaction. After this it was time for the closing keynote, by pop musician Psy. A local hero in mainstream Korea for obvious reasons and a humble speaker that decided to allude to his career build up and share lots of his personal insights with the HCI audience. At last, the next CHI was announced… see you all in San Jose for CHI’16!

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 3.04.20 AM

CHI Day 3

Disclaimer: CHI is a multiple track conference, with a dozen of parallel sessions, so the truth is: I’ve never felt a bigger desire for ubiquity (the great thing is that this year things are being recorded and will be on the ACM Digital Library soon. Thanks to the SVs for filming the talks!)

In the third day of CHI a lot of attention was given to future interfaces that attach directly to the users’ body. The great thing is that being a research conference, CHI goes much further than the wearables and smartwatch industry so researches here presented developments in haptic wearables that control your muscles (an example of that is my own work presented this year), rings that notify you using temperature (Notiring), interactive tattoo-like stickers that allow you to interact directly onto your skin (iSkin), and even nail covers that allow you to secretly interact with your technology (NailO)!

Some future interfaces that live on your body: a bracelet that reads and writes to your muscles and a Nail interface:
Proprioceptive Interaction
NailO

Of course the CHI community is not only about new hardware but a much broader and grounded on the understanding of Computing and Human Factors. This means over the past three days we’ve seen many explorations and studies that provide a deeper understanding of the world of ergonomics, crowd-sourcing, collaborative work, interaction techniques, and human cognition too.

Furthermore, this year there has been an amazing body of work that takes the CHI community to the real world as discusses important, real-world questions, such as “Encouraging Energy Conservation”, “Gender inclusive Software” and a great focus (as always) in making HCI (and CHI) accessible to all people!

CHI Day 2

The second day of CHI started off quite happily for me as I was presenting my new work on Proprioceptive Interaction (sorry for shameful link!) at the muscle-interfaces session which was very interesting. In this session researchers discussed how future muscle sensing can be increased for higher resolution input or even by combining multiple technologies such as EMG and MMG. After that I could relax a bit and attend more interesting sessions on a variety of different topics! Later on, there were sessions on smartwatch interactions, which demonstrate that we are no longer in the smartwatch hype but instead we are really in the wearables era! Great to see that research are also thinking already beyond-wearables, skin interaction, smaller devices, haptic wearables and so forth, which will be presented tomorrow (Day 3, check the post too): looking forward to that!

soft 3d printer from Disney

Later on I attended a very interesting and futuristic session on 3D fabrication which in the same vein, demonstrates that we are beyond 3D printing only in the maker community but also in the HCI community! In this session researchers showed their new ideas for the world of fabrication, such as 3D printing using soft fabric (great for plushy-toys!), check their video here.

The day ended with the job fair… a great opportunity to the more junior people to find internships and perhaps a new position either at industry or research labs!

CHI day 1

The first day of CHI started with a great opening plenary by Lou Yongqi (check keynotes here and yes, check out WHO is the closing plenary!), which came forward and highlighted the importance of Sustainability in research! Followed by an amazing program of novel technology (think Virtual Reality!), human augmentation (check this totally new way of embodying another person by Prof. Rekimoto), user studies (“Understanding and evaluating User Performance”), and understanding of elder users (“Designing for 55+”) and communities (a great session on Activism in Wikipedia, one on Privacy and one on the “Maker Community”)!

Taken from http://blog.johnrooksby.org/post/116870237912/lou-yongqi-keynote-at-chi2015 Copyright remains with original page.

Also this was the day of the video-showcase, which is a non-academic venue in which authors can submit their videos for further appreciation. It is an amazing opportunity to great a glimpse of CHI by sitting in the theater and watching great research in motion. This year’s winner was the Transform project by the MIT Media Lab (see it here), from which one of the authors is our dear editor Sean Follmer, so congrats to him and his team!

Dear HCI, Thank you. Love, Mechanical Engineering

My entire academic background – BS, MS, PhD –  is in Mechanical Engineering.  However, in addition to conferences hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, I also attend the suite of ACM’s Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Conferences. So, why should Mechanical Engineering care about HCI?

First, product design includes interfaces.  ‘Product design’ refers to the blend of mechanical engineering and industrial design. Design is the ‘outward facing’ side of Mechanical Engineering; product designers conceptualize, design, and implement many of the physical products you interact with on a daily basis.  In the cafe that I’m currently writing from, a design engineer was involved in everything from the teacup, the teapot, the table, the chair, and the laptop I’m writing on… and all the packaging that each of those products arrived in.   These traditional products still have interfaces – examples from Don Norman’s infamous “Design of Everyday Things” address how people physically interact with ‘non-smart’ products and devices such as teapots, doorknobs, or rotary telephones.  Today’s product designers are asked to not only design the physical product, but also weigh in on how the user should interact with smart products.

Second, design research in mechanical engineering can learn from findings from interaction design.  Early-stage phases of new product development – particularly user research and concept generation– are agnostic to whether or not the final ‘product’ is a physical product, software, a physical or digital service, or an architectural space.  As a result, many of the same design theory principles coming out of the interaction design community are broadly applicable to other design domains, including product design or new product development, within some level of translation.

Finally, engineers deserve well-designed technology. Engineers are people too – and, while computer scientists frequently design new programming environments for themselves, mechanical engineers and new product developers are not always the subject of thoughtful, human-centered technology design. Taking an HCI perspective to understand how engineers and designers are users of software opens up the possibility for better-designed tools in the future (I’m looking at you, CAD!).

… so why should HCI care about Mechanical Engineering?

It’s sometimes easy to get lost in cognition, perception, algorithms, and pixels.  However, when mechanical engineers check their gut, they see the physical interface between humans and computers.  You’ll see plenty of relevant contributions from Mechanical Engineering in the areas of ergonomics, haptic feedback, or tangible interfaces. But more broadly, mechanical engineers offer the reminder that humans (and computers) still primarily exist in a physical world.