The annual CHI (Computer Human Interaction) conference brings together over 3,000 researchers, students and specialists in human-machine interaction. The diversity of the research projects presented provides a good overview of the technical and scientific advances made in the past year. The theme this year was engagement, with different sessions addressing related ethical, technical and design issues. Here are the highlights.
It is sometimes difficult to prove the impact of UX research within a company and to raise awareness among internal experts about what it means for users. The Google research team presented Pokerface, an internal user empathy campaign that scales user research for organizational impact. Pokerface has four deployment phases: preparation of questions with employees from different departments, an information seminar about the research, face-to-face interviews conducted by the employees themselves and, last, a team debrief. This pilot project, which started in 2013, has truly showcased how the research enabled actual shifts in perspective within the “Googler” community.
A useful idea
Your mobile could be a prevention tool when you’re enjoying a night out. A presentation by Alex Mariakakis from the University of Washington demonstrated how a user’s use and interaction with their device could be interpreted as intoxication. By measuring simple and direct actions, like reaction time between each touch on the keyboard or even how the device is handled, Mariakakis’ sensitive user interface can determine the user’s blood alcohol level.
Research that rewrites history
Researcher Emre Aksan from ETH Zurich presented his work, which is based on deep analysis of written manuscripts. His very impressive tool takes a sample of text written by hand and transforms it into digital typography. This AI-based research is also innovative because it creates a link between the beauty and originality of cursive writing and digital writing. The results of Aksan’s research demonstrate the concrete evolution of digital.
A project that sees you from the inside
The GutsGame project, presented via a video made at RMIT University, is a fictional game that involves the human body and its digestive system. By swallowing a small capsule that can take readings of different organs, from the intestines to the stomach, players can set goals and see the results in real time. The capsule is sensitive to temperature, so players can drink coffee or tea to test the limits of the heat reading. Naturally, the capsule slowly works its way down and is evacuated by the body. In addition to being fun, these digestible readers can actually diagnose some gastric issues with great reliability.
For better intergenerational communication
Communication between grandparents and grandchildren is sometimes complicated, considering their different lifestyles. A team at Simon Fraser University has built an application that enables discussion, while respecting the specific needs of each group. The G2G app allows users to exchange virtual stickers, as well as video capsules in an asynchronous fashion. The project also facilitates daily, simple and expressive conversations. G2G is already a staple for many families, helping grandparents learn more about their grandchildren and ultimately, enabling the relationship to be more natural in real life.
Turning towards the future
Beyond the conferences, CHI is a unique opportunity to learn more about the latest advancements in human-machine interaction, and to discuss the many related social, ethical and cultural issues. The last time CHI visited Montreal was in 2006. It’s been 10 years, but researchers from all over the world eagerly travelled to our fair city to present their ideas and creations. A sure sign that Montreal deserves its reputation as a pioneer in technology and innovation.
Article originally published in French on Infopresse.
Image from SceSoc