Friday, September 10, 2010

Sept 2010 - iHCI 2010 Dublin, Ireland

I recently attended the fourth Irish Human Computer Interaction Conference iHCI 2010, which took place at Dublin City University on September 2nd & 3rd 2010. Along with serving on the program committee for iHCI, I also chaired a session during the conference. Usefully, the proceedings are available for you to download in pdf. Of the student papers presented on the first day, I enjoyed hearing about the work of Ingi Helgason from the University of Edinburgh Napier on "Interaction design: learning from new-media art". I will be tracking this work based on my own interest in Public and Private display systems (see for example our latest PPD10 workshop).  

On the afternoon of the first day we had an industry session co-organised by the IxDA Dublin and Limerick. Ben Arent from the IxDA Dublin will be uploading some videos (to their IxDA Dublin YouTube channel I suspect or here) from this day. If you want to know when these videos are online, follow Ben on twitter. In this session I was pleased to hear an update from Hilary Kenna of the IADT on the NDRC Vizi project which I help found when based in UCD Ireland. This project seems like a lifetime ago now but development has moved on of course. "Vizi is an online platform to facilitate the contextualisation of statistical data in realtime using dynamic visualisation technology. The ultimate objective of this project is to unlock the value of data by creating a platform that will enable users to visualise, manipulate and track data in a way that is meaningful for them. The resultant dynamic visualisations can then be used to investigate causal relationships to influence decision and policy making with evidence based conclusions." I've not been involved in the project (which used to be called DVIZ) for a while but I'm glad to see the work is progressing to the next stage of commercialisation.

Richard Harper at iHCI 2010
The second day of iHCI2010 started out with a Keynote from Richard Harper a Principal Researcher in Socio-Digital Systems at Microsoft Research entitled "Do we communicate too much". A very good question for me as I tweet and even write this blog! Richard's abstract states, "In this talk I will reflect on contemporary human expression when it is often said that everyone is suffering from communications overload. I will ask how we might measure communication, and draw a contrast between different ways of doing so." In this image Richard refers to his new MIT Press book "Texture Human Expression in the Age of Communications Overload" (Richard H. R. Harper) coming out in November. If you are interested in the threads, seams, weaving, interweaving and our fabric of day to day communication, then this book will be of interest to you (well it is to me). As Keynotes go, this was excellent, it provoked many discussions during the rest of the conference and even in the days and week afterwards.

The remainder of the second day included both a poster paper session and three research paper sessions. During the poster paper session my PhD student Jakub Dostal presented our poster on "There Is More to Multimodal Interfaces than Speech, Vibration and Position: State of the Art in Multimodal Interfaces for People with Disabilities". This poster is based on the findings from A Survey of Multimodal Systems for Disabled Users (PDF) he published as a technical report from the Human Interface Technology Laboratory Australia (TR001) in July 2010. This survey is the initial literature review from the early stages of his doctoral work. Jakub was successfully awarded a Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) scholarship earlier this year. SICSA has four themes, one of which is multi-modal interaction. Both myself and Jakub are looking forward to collaborating with the wider body of SICSA multi-modal research community in Scotland. 

Cognitive Load Theory and mLearning

Some of the research papers which prompted interesting thoughts for me included "Considering prior experience and expectation in automotive safety system development" by Christopher Wilkinson for the University of Cambridge, UK and Alan Dix from the Lancaster University, UK. The use of haptic feedback prompted me to recall an earlier blog post on the "haptic jingle". The use of such feedback for notification, while difficult to sense, is an interesting use of haptics for conveying key state information (which cannot be easily ignored). A second paper of interest was entitled "Now You See It, Now You Don't: The effect of wiki flexibility on anxiety during wiki editing" by Benjamin R. Cowan and Mervyn A. Jack  from the University of Edinburgh, UK. This is an interesting paper which studies how Wikis are used in Higher Education. Given my use of Wiki's in projects including CAPSIL and BRAID along with a moo, discussion board, Moodle, Blackboard etc. this talk resonated with me. I pointed Ben towards this recent book on "The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age". The concepts and issued raised in this book are relevant to the use of Wikis. In addition, as a co-created book the history of the book development itself is interesting with respect to who feels ownership along with details on the final text lock down and edit prior to print. The final paper I was taken by was entitled "Designing Interaction for a Multi-touch Wall" by Chen Wang (National University of Defence Technology, China), Hyowon Lee, Alan F. Smeaton (Dublin City University, Ireland). This area is a significant challenge as large public multi-touch, multi-person systems move from research lab based prototype to real world deployments.

Congratulations to the folks from DCU for organising iHCI 2010, in particular Daragh Byrne who put in considerable effort. I'd like to see iHCI grow and prosper as a national conference in HCI for Ireland.