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UW researchers shine at CHI

CHI 2016 logoUW faculty and students are gearing up for the Association of Computing Machinery’s CHI 2016 conference that begins this weekend in San Jose, California. As the top conference for human-computer interaction research, CHI offers a terrific opportunity to showcase the breadth and depth of the University of Washington’s expertise in HCI and design as well as the strength of our interdisciplinary collaborations. UW CSE professor James Fogarty put together a terrific overview of UW-authored papers featured at this year’s conference for the DUB website—including three Best Paper Awards representing the top one percent of submissions.

Katharina Reinecke

Katharina Reinecke

UW CSE professor Katharina Reinecke co-authored one of the winning papers, Enabling Designers to Foresee Which Colors Users Cannot See, with professors David Flatla of University of Dundee and Christopher Brooks of the University of Michigan. For that project, Reinecke and her fellow researchers collected data through LabintheWild to examine the effect of real-world lighting conditions on people’s ability to differentiate colors in websites and infographics. The team then developed an image-processing tool, ColorCheck, that enables designers to identify color pairings that may pose a problem for some users of digital content.

Of the nine UW-authored papers that earned Honorable Mentions—given to the top five percent of submissions to CHI—five were co-authored by CSE faculty and/or students. The projects deal with an array of HCI-related topics, including accessibility, health sensing, gesture tracking, and virtual reality:

Finexus: Tracking Precise Motions of Multiple Fingertips Using Magnetic Sensing, by UW Electrical Engineering Ph.D. alum Ke-Yu Chen, CSE and EE professor Shwetak Patel, and Sean Keller of Oculus Research, is a system that uses magnets to precisely track finger movements for a more elegant and immersive virtual reality experience (more on Finexus here).

FingerIO: Using Active Sonar for Fine-Grained Finger Tracking, by UW CSE Ph.D. student Rajalakshmi Nandakumar, EE Ph.D. student Vikram Iyer, CSE affiliate faculty member Desney Tan of Microsoft Research, and CSE professor Shyam Gollakota, enables users to interact with smartphones and smartwatches by writing or gesturing on any surface or in mid-air using sonar (more on FingerIO here).

Incloodle: Evaluating an Interactive Application for Young Children with Mixed Abilities, by UW Human Centered Design & Engineering Ph.D. student Kiley Sobel, CSE Ph.D. student Kyle Rector, HCDE graduate student Susan Evans, and HCDE professor and CSE adjunct faculty member Julie Kientz, presents a picture-taking app that advances our understanding of how interactive technology can facilitate inclusive play among children with diverse abilities.

Researcher-Centered Design of Statistics: Why Bayesian Statistics Better Fit the Culture and Incentives of HCI, by UW CSE Ph.D. students Matthew Kay and Greg Nelson, and professor Erik Hekler of Arizona State University, demonstrates how Bayesian methods will lead to a more user-centered approach to statistical analysis in HCI research.

SpiroCall: Measuring Lung Function over a Phone Call, by UW CSE Ph.D. students Mayank Goel and Eric Whitmire, EE Ph.D. students Elliot Saba and Josh Fromm, former high school intern Maia Stiber, UW EE Ph.D. alum Eric Larson (now a professor at Southern Methodist University), CSE and EE professor Shwetak Patel, and the late CSE professor Gaetano Borriello, is a tool for measuring lung function using any phone, anywhere in the world (more on SpiroCall here).

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Several more papers authored by CSE adjunct faculty and friends were designated among the best of CHI—all told, UW authors contributed a total of 39 papers to this year’s conference, representing 10 UW departments or programs and more than two dozen external university and industry partners. See the complete list of UW CHI papers here.

Way to go, team!