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Magazine: Letter from the editor
The future of interaction
Interfaces everywhere

The future of interaction
Interfaces everywhere

By ,

Full text also available in the ACM Digital Library as PDF | HTML | Digital Edition

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We've been a bit preoccupied with interfaces as of late. For one thing, you're holding the launch issue of XRDS, ACM's magazine for interfacing with the student population. In many ways, this is a brand-new publication—new format, new content, and new vision. But it's also an evolution of Crossroads, and as such, it's staying true to a 15-year legacy of student-centric content.

back to top  Introducing XRDS

You've probably already noticed we've donned a fresh new look, created by world-renowned design firm Pentagram and the dedicated staff at ACM headquarters. However, you'll quickly discover cosmetic changes are only a small part of this redesign. You might have also noticed we've put on a bit of weight. On the next 50 or so pages, you'll discover a dozen new columns, things like "Advice" (page 7), a tutorial called "Hello World" (page 50), "Labz" (page 52), and much more.

These columns, headed up by a dedicated group of departments editors (see masthead on page 2), were carefully selected and designed to get useful information into your hands and help you connect with the organizations, opportunities, and other students that matter most to you. These columns will be recurring, so you will be able to jump right to the information you find most useful in every issue.

Our goal is to make XRDS the premier news and information platform for students interested in computer science, computer engineering, information systems, interaction design, and similar fields. This is one of ACM's chief missions, and we intend for this magazine to be a bold step toward fulfilling that promise.

Interested in helping us realize this vision? XRDS is not only a magazine for students, but also run by students. That means we need you! If digging up leads for feature articles, writing columns, or reporting from conference floors sounds exciting, we want to hear from you.

"No longer do we think of computing solely as sitting in front of a desktop computer with a keyboard and mouse. Computing occurs in cars, while we're walking or riding the subway..." Chris Harrison

Email us ([email protected]). Join our discussions on our Facebook group page (http://tinyurl.com/XRDS-Facebook). Chatter with us via Twitter by using "#xrds" in any tweet.

back to top  Interfaces for Input

We've decided to kick off XRDS with an issue dedicated to a highly relevant and rapidly evolving subject: interfaces for input—where they are now, and where they'll be going soon.

Advances in electronics, both in computational power and reduced cost, have allowed computers to pervade almost all aspects of our lives. No longer do we think of computing solely as sitting in front of a desktop computer with a keyboard and mouse. Computing occurs in cars, while we're walking or riding the subway, at a kiosk in the airport, and even on interactive tabletops and walls. To fully unleash the true potential of these computing modalities, researchers are developing new ways for us to get information into these rich platforms—what we generally refer to as input.

This topic is particularly close to my heart and forms the core of my present PhD research. I think about ways to enable (small) mobile devices to "steal" (large) everyday surfaces for input. Consider, for example, a cell phone sitting on a desk. Why reach over and press some diminutive button to silence an incoming call when you could simply issue a finger gesture right on the (large) table in front of you? Or imagine a music player strapped to your upper arm while out for a jog. Why reach over to interact with some tiny scroll wheel when you could use the nearly two square feet of skin surface area on your lower arm for finger input?

back to top  It's All Happening Now

That might sound like science fiction, but these projects have already been published at UIST (the Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology) and the annual SIGCHI conference (or the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction), two premier ACM conferences that you, as an ACM student member, get discounted entrance to, by the way.

That's just the tip of the input iceberg. We've got six feature articles from top researchers covering everything from tangible tabletops and pen input, to micro-device interactions, and brain-computer interfaces. Intrigued? Keep reading...

back to top  Author

Chris Harrison is a PhD student in the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship recipient, and has worked as several industry labs, including IBM Research, AT&T Labs, and Microsoft Research. More about his background and work is available at www.chrisharrison.net.

back to top  Footnotes

DOI: http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1764848.1764849

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©2010 ACM  1528-4972/10/0600  $10.00

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The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2010 ACM, Inc.


CHI Calendar

Interaction-Design.org keeps a conference calendar related to HCI events

HCI Resources

HCI Resources & Bibliography



Brain-Computer Interface: technology that reads your mind (more or less)


Sounds produced by your body, such as when you touch your arm, which makes a distinctive noise that a computer can distinguish


Electroencephalography: a BCI that measures electrical signals from sensors on your scalp


Graphical User Interface


Human-Computer Interaction: a subfield of computer science


A usually flat surface that can detect multiple finger gestures, popularized by the iPhone, and a common component of tangible user interfaces


Tangible User Interface


Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointers, the typical way we interact with a GUI


What You See is More or Less What You Get