Tag: conference (page 1 of 2)

Belgian CHI Papers

It’s that time of the year again. This week, the annual CHI conference is taking place in Austin, Texas. While I’m not attending, I do try to follow the program somewhat through Twitter.

CHI is generally considered to be the most prestigious conference on Human-Computer Interaction, with acceptance rates between 20 and 25% (CHI currently has an overall acceptance rate of 23%: 2,930 papers were accepted out of 12,583 submissions). HCI research labs and individual researchers are often compared based on their track record for CHI (or the lack thereof). For example, Professor Jan Borchers of RWTH Aachen maintains a ranking of German universities based on the number of CHI archival publications (full papers or notes) since 2003.

Unfortunately, participation of Belgian universities and companies at CHI tends to be rather limited, especially with respect to these archival publications. Our lab, for example, got work-in-progress papers accepted before (e.g., Telebuddies), co-organized CHI workshops (e.g., User interface description languages for next generation user interfaces), and had people in the organizing committee, but we did not (yet) get a full paper or note accepted to CHI. I must say we don’t always try every year, though. On the other hand, we do publish at more specialized conferences, such as UIST (D-Macs), Pervasive (Situated Glyphs), 3DUI (Vanacken et al.), Tabletop/ITS (FluidPaint [video]), PERCOM (Pervasive Maps), INTERACT (Haesen et al.), MobileHCI (Luyten et al.), AVI (Gummy), and EICS (CAP3). Some of these more specialized conferences are considered to be as competitive and prestiguous as CHI. This is especially the case for UIST, but also for CSCW, DIS and Ubicomp & Pervasive (for the related area of ubiquitous computing). Since other scientific disciplines (e.g., physics, biology) are mostly focused on journals instead of conferences, some people explicitly mention the importance of top HCI conferences such as CHI and UIST in their resume.

What about other Belgian universities? In 2009, dr. David Geerts from CUO (KULeuven) had a full paper accepted to CHI. This was the first CHI archival publication from a Belgian institution in years. At that same edition of CHI, two researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) presented a scientometric analysis of the CHI proceedings up until 2008. Their analysis seems to indicate that the paper by Geerts was just the second Belgian archival paper at CHI. Indeed, Belgium has exactly 1 credit in the main proceedings up until 2008:

As far as I can tell, this refers to the paper at INTERCHI ‘93 by Jean Vanderdonckt and François Bodart of the Université Catholique de Louvain. Note that INTERCHI ‘93 was in fact a joint INTERACT+CHI conference (it was also the first CHI conference that was held outside North America).

Belgium’s neighbouring countries do a lot better in the analysis: the Netherlands have 17.17 credits, France has 27.03 credits and Germany is a clear winner with a score of 39.74 in the main proceedings. Belgium’s total number of credits per million inhabitants (which includes credits for extended abstracts — non-archival publications) is a bit higher than that of France, though (1.78 vs. 1.34).

Fortunately, the situation seems to be improving. Last year, KULeuven had another 2 archival papers accepted to CHI 2011: a note by Geerts, and a full paper by Karl Gyllstrom. This year, there is a note co-authored by Anand Ramamoorthy from the University of Ghent. Steven Houben, an UHasselt alumnus (and one of my former Master’s thesis students) who is now working on a PhD in Jakob Bardram’s group, got a CHI 2012 full paper accepted too (congrats again, Steven!). Of course, there’s the question of what really constitutes a Belgian CHI paper. Is it enough if the paper is (co-)authored by researchers employed by a Belgian institution, or do the authors have to be Belgian? While Karl Gyllstrom and Anand Ramamoorthy are affiliated with Belgian universities, they are not Belgian citizens (as far as I can tell). On the other hand, while Steven is a Belgian citizen, he is not affiliated with a Belgian university or company.

This made me wonder if there were any other Belgians working abroad who ever co-authored papers at CHI. I could only think of Professor Pattie Maes (VUB alumna) who directs the Fluid interfaces group at MIT Media Lab (she currently has 4 CHI papers according to DBLP). I would love to hear about other people that I might have missed.

To conclude, there is certainly room for improvement, although we’re not doing that bad either. Let’s hope the HCI community in Belgium continues to grow and Belgium will eventually be as well represented at top HCI venues as our neighbouring countries.

Research update

Quite a few things happened since I last posted about my research. Here is a (not so short) summary of what happened during my blogging leave of absence

Ubicomp 2009

Our work on supporting why and why not questions to improve end-user understanding in Ubicomp environments was accepted as a poster to Ubicomp 2009

Answering Why and Why Not Questions in Ubiquitous Computing

Jo Vermeulen, Geert Vanderhulst, Kris Luyten, and Karin Coninx. Answering Why and Why Not Questions in Ubiquitous Computing. To appear in the Ubicomp ’09 Conference Supplement (Poster), Orlando, Florida, US, September 30th – October 3rd, 2009, 3 pages.

Abstract: Users often find it hard to understand and control the behavior of a Ubicomp system. This can lead to loss of user trust, which may hamper the acceptance of these systems. We are extending an existing Ubicomp framework to allow users to pose why and why not questions about its behavior. Initial experiments suggest that these questions are easy to use and could help users in understanding how Ubicomp systems work.

There is a separate page for the poster on my homepage, including a PDF version of the poster and the extended abstract.

Mario Romero has an excellent Ubicomp 2009 photo set on Flickr.

Here’s a picture of me explaining the poster:


And here I am presenting in the One Minute Madness session:



Karel Robert helped me create a video for the One Minute Madness session that would stand out. Although it might have been a bit too attention-grabbing, I certainly had fun making it and presenting in the Madness session.

Here is the video:

Next to presenting my poster, I also served as a Ubicomp 2009 student volunteer, which earned me a place in Joe McCarthy’s opening slides for the conference (slide 6)

Being a student volunteer was lots of fun! I got to meet a lot of interesting people, and still had the opportunity to follow most of the sessions. I also explored the parks together with a few of the other volunteers (Ubicomp 2009 was held in Disney World), and we even played beach volley on the last day

When we went to the Magic Kingdom, I had to see Randy Pausch’s plaque at the Mad Tea Party:

Randy Pausch plaque in Disney World containing a quote from the Last Lecture

The plaque contains a quote from Randy’s Last Lecture:

Randy Pausch: Be good at something; It makes you valuable... Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.

If you haven’t watched the Last Lecture yet, I strongly recommend you do! It will be an hour well-spent.

Full paper accepted to AmI 2009

The full paper that we submitted to the third international conference on Ambient Intelligence 2009, was accepted as well. This work was a collaboration with Jonathan Slenders, one of our Master’s students.

I Bet You Look Good on the Wall: Making the Invisible Computer Visible

Jo Vermeulen, Jonathan Slenders, Kris Luyten, and Karin Coninx. To appear in the Proceedings of AmI ’09, the Third European Conference on Ambient Intelligence, Salzburg, Austria, November 18th – 21st, 2009, Springer LNCS, 10 pages.

Abstract: The design ideal of the invisible computer, prevalent in the vision of ambient intelligence (AmI), has led to a number of interaction challenges. The complex nature of AmI environments together with limited feedback and insufficient means to override the system can result in users who feel frustrated and out of control. In this paper, we explore the potential of visualizing the system state to improve user understanding. We use projectors to overlay the environment with a graphical representation that connects sensors and devices with the actions they trigger and the effects those actions produce. We also provided users with a simple voice-controlled command to cancel the last action. A small first-use study suggested that our technique could indeed improve understanding and support users in forming a reliable mental model..

There is again a separate page for the paper on my homepage, together with a PDF version.

Basically, our technique visualizes the different events that occur in a Ubicomp environment, and shows how these events can lead to the system taking actions on behalf of the user and what effects these actions have. Here is a video of the technique:

The AmI 2009 conference takes place in Salzburg in about three weeks.

Talk at SIGCHI.be

I also submitted a paper to SIGCHI.be‘s (the Belgian SIGCHI chapter) 2009 Fall Conference on New Communities. The paper was titled Improving Intelligibility and Control in Ubicomp Environments, and motivated the need for intelligibility and control in Ubicomp while also giving a short summary of the Ubicomp 2009 poster and AmI 2009 paper.

Here are the slides:

[slideshare id=2276932&doc=sigchibe-091019085111-phpapp02]

Thanks to everyone at our lab who contributed in one way or another (either by participating in user studies, or by reviewing drafts of the papers)

Specials thanks to:

  • Karel Robert for designing the visualizations we used in the AmI 2009 paper and for helping me with the Ubicomp 2009 One Minute Madness video.
  • Daniël Teunkens for drawing the why question storyboards that were used in the SIGCHI.be presentation.
  • Mieke Haesen for being a great actress in the AmI 2009 movie
  • Kris Gabriëls for posing in the picture we used for the Ubicomp 2009 poster abstract.

Australian conference and journal ranking

Just read an interesting post on Albrecht Schmidt‘s blog about the Australian conference and journal rankings.

No big surprises in the list of course, but nevertheless interesting to have a look at. The problem (at least in Belgium) seems to be that the rankings used for university funding are focused mostly on journals. The top conferences are often only ranked slightly higher than average conferences, meaning that two or three papers at a mid-level conference will be better in terms of funding than one paper at a top conference. Of course, there is always the prestige and international recognition you receive when getting a paper accepted at a top conference

AVI 2008

Although it’s a bit late (almost a month after the facts), I finally found some time to blog about Advanced Visual Interfaces (AVI) 2008 in Naples, where Jan presented our paper about Gummy.

Gummy title slide at AVI 2008

I liked it very much: the conference had good quality papers but was still reasonably small (around 150 attendants), and of course the weather and the Italian food were great We arrived on Tuesday which gave us some time to explore the city and take the ferry to Capri (a great suggestion by Robbie).

Piazza del Plebiscito



I am not going to discuss the conference program into detail this time, but will just highlight a couple of interesting papers. Possibly one of the coolest papers was “Exploring Video Streams using Slit-Tear Visualizations” by Anthony Tang (video). Another presentation I enjoyed was “TapTap and MagStick: Improving One-Handed Target Acquisition on Small Touch-screens” by Anne Roudaut (video). It seems there is lots of related work in this area (e.g. Shift, ThumbSpace, etc.). Peter Brandl presented two interesting papers: Bridging the Gap between Real Printouts and Digital Whiteboards and Combining and Measuring the Benefits of Bimanual Pen and Direct-Touch Interaction on Horizontal Interfaces. He was brave enough to do an impressive live demo for the first paper Oh, and he also covered the conference in a blog post.

The first paper in our session, titled “A Mixed-Fidelity Prototyping Tool for Mobile Devices” by Marco de Sá, introduced a tool to easily design prototypes and evaluate them in real-life situations. The system was well thought out and serves a real need. I can imagine that we could use this kind of tool in a user-centered UI design course. The second paper in our session was “Model-based Layout Generation” by Sebastian Feuerstack. I already met Sebastian at CADUI 2006. They presented a generic layout model based on constraints. It reminded me a bit of the layout model Yves worked on for our EIS 2007 paper. They used the Cassowary constraint solver, which I also used for my MSc thesis on constraint-based layouts for UIML. Sebastian told me he got the idea from my demo at CADUI 2006. I forgot to add a certain constraint (the layout of the UI was thus underconstrained), which by coincidence had no effect on the user interface everytime I tested it. Of course, when I showed the demo it did have an effect This clearly illustrated that constraint solvers are sometimes unpredictable (see Past, present, and future of user interface software tools by Myers et al.). Sebastian’s solution to this problem was to hide the constraints from the designer and generate them automatically from a graphical layout model.

Juan Manuel Gonzalez Calleros — who I met at CADUI 2006, TAMODIA 2006 and a few other occasions — presented a poster and a paper at the workshop on haptics. He took a few pictures while Jan was presenting (thanks again Juan!). Here are Juan and Jan discussing UsiXML vs UIML

Jan and Juan discussing UsiXML vs UIML

Overall, the comments on our work were positive, although of course one of the biggest problems is still the lack of support for multi-screen interfaces. As Jan is actively hacking on Gummy these days, I don’t think it will take very long for this to be included in the tool

Ubicomp 2007: day two and three

I finally found some time to go through my notes from Ubicomp 2007. Since I already blogged about the first day I’m going to start this overview on Tuesday. This is not a complete overview, but just a list of talks that I found interesting.

The first session had a nice talk titled “My Roomba is Rambo” which studied why people got emotional about their appliances, and why we should care. This is similar to what Philips did with the iCat. Apparantly people seemed to forgive their appliances when they made mistakes, given that they were emotionally attached to them (e.g. helping a Roomba that got stuck).

The next session on location featured an interesting talk by David Dearman on a method to predict location errors. They evaluated their system by letting people locate posters as fast as possible, while varying the location error and using different algorithms to estimate the error, including their own. There were a lot of talks on security, including one in this session on security by spatial reference by Rene Mayrhofer. He made an interesting point, that the methods of security and authentication we use today (e.g. passwords) are inpractical for ubicomp environments.

Shwetak Patel presented his work on Tuesday as well. He received the best paper and best talk award. His idea was very innovative, namely to check for noise on the power lines in a house to detect activity (e.g. opening the microwave would turn on a light which could be detected). The system is quite accurate, although portable devices could be more difficult to support since a training period is required. In the same session there was another security talk on shaking two devices together and thereby generating a unique key for authentication. This illustrates that there were definitely a lot of creative ideas at Ubicomp.

Tuesday evening we had the conference dinner up in the mountains which was quite nice (with an Austrian traditional band that played all kinds of music, including Tom Jones), but it was very cold up there

Wednesday started with a talk by Tim Kindberg (of Cooltown fame) titled “Merolyn the Phone: a study of Bluetooth naming practices”. He started off with a slide that showed a list of names of detected Bluetooth phones in the conference room. Apparently, the people that featured in his study were more creative than we were (I was guilty as well with the not very original name “Jo’s K750i”). The story behind the name Merolyn the phone was pretty funny as well.

Next was a talk by Yvonne Rogers, of whom I read a very interesting article last year (after it was mentioned on Fabien’s blog). The talk was basically about how Ubicomp technology cannot be evaluated in a lab setting, and needs real-world testing.

Another interesting talk in this session discussed the Whereabouts clock, which reminded me vaguely of the AmbientClock. In the session on privacy Karen P. Tang (if I’m not mistaken) presented privacy controls in IMBuddy, a contextual instant messenger. They allowed people to disclose information at different levels of granularity and get notified when someone queried their presence.

In my opinion, the best presentation was given by Scott Davidoff, who presented speed dating as a method to quickly evaluate different design decisions. His slides are online at Slideshare.net.

The final talk by David Molyneaux showcased an impressive steerable projector system. The innovative part (according to my understanding) was that objects stored and controlled their data (e.g. sensor readings) and metadata (e.g. 3D model) themselves, and decided when to send this to the projector. For example, when two objects with the same appearance are in a room, and one is moving and the other one isn’t (detected with accelerometers), they notify the projector which can then distinguish between them. When an object’s geometry is changed (e.g. when a book is opened), it detects this through sensors and accordingly sends its updated 3D model to the projector.

All in all, the conference was very interesting as was the workshop.