Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 2009 HITLab Australia Director Designate

I'm very excited to announce that I am going to be the inaugural director of the Human Interface Technology Laboratory Australia (HIT Lab AU) and an Associate Professor in the School of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Tasmania. The HITLab consists of three international research laboratories. The first is now a leading research lab formed in the University of Washington USA over 20 years ago and the second laboratory was started in New Zealand in 2002. This is the third research lab.

Since working at MERL (Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories) Cambridge Massachusetts USA in '01/'02 it's been my long-term ambition to develop and lead a research lab such as this. The guidance I received from Joe Marks, then director of MERL, made me realise his was the type of job I would one day aspire to. He showed me the positive influence, excitement and vision a director can offer a lab and the type of creative environment that one can build. I hope to build just such an environment in the HITLab Australia for undergraduates, postgraduates, postdocts, researchers, collaborators and all our industry partners.

The process of applying for and getting this role is a long one and I want to thank Mark Billinghurst, the director of the HITLab New Zealand for first pointing me at this role and then giving me great feedback before and after I was made the offer. Our lab will be collaborating closely with Mark and the HITLab New Zealand over the next few years. My involvement in a number of major SFI funded activities here in Ireland has helped lay the ground work for my move into this role. As such, I want to thank all my colleagues in UCD and all my colleagues in Lero - The Irish Software Engineering Research Centre (SFI CSET), CLARITY - the centre for Sensor Web technologies (SFI CSET) and Clique the research cluster for network analysis and visualization (SFI SRC) for their collaborations over the past 5 years. The HITLab Australia will be developing linkages to some of these and other international groups over the coming years.

In the international hunt to find someone to fill this post the Vice-Chancellor Professor Daryl Le Grew said: "I am looking for the inaugural Director to provide strategic leadership of the HIT Lab AU and its inter-disciplinary undergraduate and postgraduate courses and research higher degree programs. The Director will oversee exciting, cross-disciplinary collaboration in teaching and research activities with other UTAS schools and faculties; the development of consulting activities and commercial projects with business and industry; and the establishment of national and international partnerships with our partners the HIT Labs US and NZ, the Virtual Worlds Consortium, and other organisations.

The inaugural Director will have an exciting and unprecedented opportunity to shape and guide the HITLab AU as a major research and teaching centre on the national and international stage."

I am really looking forward to this challenge over the coming years and the opportunity to connect and collaborate with colleagues in Tasmania and across Australia while developing new and innovative undergraduate and postgraduate programs within the lab. My aim is to make this a major research and teaching centre on the national and international stage.

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 2009 TEDxDublin

On June 12th at 7.30pm I organised TEDxDublin which was hosted by the Science Gallery but it truly was a team effort!

Links: [ Facebook Fan Page ] [ TEDxDublin Website ] [ #tedxdub on twitter ] [ #tedx on twitter ] [ TEDxDublin on Flickr ]

TEDxDublin is a local, self-organized event that brought people together to share "ideas worth spreading". At TEDxDublin we had a program of 2 TEDTalks videos and 3 live speakers. See the TEDxDublin website (which the Science Gallery kindly host) for full details and videos on this event. This event really did spark off some deep discussions and connection. I was particularly glad that our ODCSSS 2009 research interns were able to attend along with some of their mentors and supervisors. It really is a great testament to Dublin that such an event can come together on such short notice yet have speakers from around the world and be delivered through such a high quality event.

Thanks go to our three speakers for giving up their time and presenting inspiring talks and also our local volunteers. The Science Gallery and all the staff who helped are to be very much complimented for their professionalism with helping to plan and execute on TEDxDublin. Beforehand a number of people said they weren't sure if we could have something in Dublin that emulated the buzz, energy and inspiration of the original TED talks but afterwards many people said the event had met and exceeded just those expectations. Rowan Manahan from Fortify Services has written a very nice blog piece on TEDxDublin.

Two interesting aspects of how this whole event came together was firstly the speed (18 days) and also the use of social media (lots of twitter and Facebook). Due to the whole connection to TED I was interviewed by a local reporter Marie Boran on the use of social media to drive the organisation of this event. You can see her piece on this in the Silicon Republic.

The event itself....

Our first presentation came from Scott Rickard on "source signal separation" or the cocktail-party effect. Scott gave a great and engaging talk and certainly inspired many people, if the discussions afterwards are anything to judge by! Scott is keenly interested in science, mathematics, and engineering education, at all levels. He is co-founder of Science With Me! and co-created RoboRugby. He is the director of the Complex and Adaptive Systems Laboratory UCD. Along with explaining what is some complex research in accessible terms Scott was able to give a live demo with multi-lingual source seperation on the spot! Pretty impressive.

Educated at MIT and Princeton, Scott was a research assistant at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts (from 1991 to 1993) and worked on a prototype analog neural network computer, designed neural networks for mine detection from sonar images, and designed large sets of frequency hopped waveforms with nearly ideal ambiguity properties for sonar applications. From 1993 to 2003 he was a member of technical staff at Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, New Jersey. He spent 1995 and 1996 in Munich Germany with Siemens working in the Neural Networks Group. While with Siemens, he developed and applied machine learning technology to industrial problems such as vehicle navigation, automated image analysis, biomedical signal classification, and industrial plant state prediction. Scott moved to UCD in September 2003 and is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering and the Director of the UCD Complex & Adaptive Systems Laboratory (CASL).

Our first TED talk on video at TEDxDublin came from Pattie Maes on the Sixth Sense. [ TED Link ]

Mark Billinghurst was our second live presenter on "Accessible AR: Bringing Augmented Reality to the Masses". Mark is the director of the Human Interface Technology Lab New Zealand. He is the inventor of the "Magic Book" - an animated children's book that comes to life when viewed through the lightweight head-mounted display (HMD).He was awarded a Discover Magazine Award in 2001, for Entertainment for creating the Magic Book technology. In 2004 he was nominated for a prestigious World Technology Network (WTN) World Technology Award in the education category and in 2005 he was appointed to the New Zealand Government's Growth and Innovation Advisory Board.

Our second TED talk on video at TEDxDublin came from Robert Full on Learning from the gecko's tail. [ TED Link ]

Our final live talk at TEDxDublin came from Blaise Aguera y Arcas of Microsoft Live Labs. Blaise is well know for his original TED talk in 2007 on [ Photosynth ]. Blaise Aguera y Arcas has authored patents on both video compression and 3D visualization techniques, and in 2001, he made an influential computational discovery that cast doubt on Gutenberg's role as the father of movable type.

He also created Seadragon (acquired by Microsoft in 2006), the visualization technology that gives Photosynth its amazingly smooth digital rendering and zoom capabilities. Photosynth itself is a vastly powerful piece of software capable of taking a wide variety of images, analyzing them for similarities, and grafting them together into an interactive three-dimensional space. This seamless patchwork of images can be viewed via multiple angles and magnifications, allowing us to look around corners or "fly" in for a (much) closer look. Simply put, it could utterly transform the way we experience digital images.

Thanks to Catalin David of Jacobs University Bremen, Germany for his images of the event. Catalin is an ODCSSS research intern.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

June 2009 Paper Accepted to EMBC 2009

Congratulations to my co-authors from UCD and TRIL on our recent paper entitled "Objective real-time assessment of walking and turning in elderly adults" which was accepted at the 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC'09). EMBC'09 will be held during September 2~6, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"The EMBC'09 technical program will consist of plenary and keynote lectures, workshops, symposia, and invited sessions, in which the leading experts from all around the world will present state-of-the-art reviews of rapidly-developing and exciting areas, report the latest significant findings and developments in all the major fields of biomedical engineering, and discuss government and industry related issues. Accepted high-quality original technical papers will be presented in poster and oral sessions, with up to 4-page papers to be included in IEEE Xplore and indexed in PubMed/MEDLINE. A number of student travel awards will also be made available to assist graduate students attending EMBC'09."

Friday, June 05, 2009

June 2009 Master Class on Visualisation

I'm giving a Master Classes called "Visualisation as an analytical tool, from networks to data streams" at the DHO Summer School 2009 in July. Thanks to Shawn and Paolo for inviting me. I'm looking forward to outlining the 7 key research challenges our field faces in light of the ever increasing torrent of both local and remote data sources.

Lecture: Visualisation as an analytical tool, from networks to data streams.
7 Key Challenges we face. Aaron Quigley (University College, Dublin)

Societies continued reliance on information and communications technologies has resulted in organizations generating, gathering, and storing “raw data” at a rate growing each year. The ability for even a mid-sized organization to store tens to hundreds of terabytes of data is already within reach. Massive storage technologies are rapidly outstripping our ability to effectively analyse, explore, and understand such voluminous data. While research in other fields such as data mining, machine learning and knowledge management are also attempting to aid in the analysis of such voluminous data, there is a realisation that the “human-in-the-loop” affords a visual analysis not possible through automation alone.

As such, the area of visual analytics extends the fields of scientific and information visualization by incorporating techniques from knowledge management, statistical analysis, cognitive science and decision science.

This talk will outline how voluminous data is modeled, managed, mined and hence visually presented for exploration. Several large scale data and information visualisation methods will be described and discussed along with the 7 key challenges we face as researchers and developers in using visualisation in an attempt to present information.

DHO Summer School 2009

Date: 13 - 17 July 2009
Venue: Royal Irish Academy and Trinity College Dublin

The Digital Humanities Observatory in conjunction with NINES and 18th Connect are delighted to offer a week-long workshop to allow scholars undertaking digital projects to develop their skills, share interests, and work towards common goals. Workshop strands, master classes and lectures will focus on the theoretical, technical, administrative, and institutional issues relevant to the needs of digital humanities projects.

The summer school will offer participants four week-long workshop strands to choose from:

* Introduction to the Text Encoding Initiative: Theory and Practice;
* Data Modelling and Databases for Humanities Research;
* Data Visualisation for the Humanities;
* Text Transformations with XSLT.

In addition the Summer School will feature lectures and master classes by leading experts and theorists in digital humanities.

Monday, June 01, 2009

June 2009 Paper Accepted to SNMABA 2009

Congratulations to Mike Farrugia on having our new paper entitled "Enhancing airline customer relationship management data by inferring ties between passengers” accepted as a regular paper at the International Workshop on Social Networks Mining and Analysis for Business Applications (SNMABA2009). This workshop will be held in conjunction with the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Social Computing in Vancouver, Canada. Accepted papers will be published in the workshop section of the main conference proceedings of SocialComp-09.

"Abstract—In the airline industry, as in many other industries, customer relationship management data is predominantly based on quantitative data. In this paper we explore the possibility of augmenting this quantitative data with relational data by inferring ties between passengers. Different methods of inferring relationships are proposed and discussed, along with the business
benefits such relational data adds to current customer information. We also explain some visualisation approaches to facilitate the exploration of this data by business analysts in marketing, sales and customer loyalty sections.

June 2009 4th ODCSSS Program

This is the 4th year for the ODCSSS program. ODCSSS is a 12 week undergraduate summer research internship program between the University College Dublin (UCD) and Dublin City University (DCU) Ireland which starts on June 2nd 2009. This program offers a distributed and interdisciplinary research environment at the forefront of ICT research. The theme for 2009 is "Technologies for bridging the digital-physical divide: sensing the environment". Each ODCSSS student is engaged in a research project with a faculty member and mentor which provides them an opportunity to experience research.

This year we have, yet again, an impressive set of research interns coming here for the summer. Our 2009 research launch event will be held in the Guinness Store House Dublin on June 2nd with a strong line of research presentations for academia, industry and applied research labs.

As UCD director for this program I wish all the research interns based here and in DCU all the very best in their summer research. To see some past images view this flickr set called ODCSSS SET