Sunday, April 18, 2010


For the past week I was down in Atlanta for CHI 2010, the big human computer interaction conference from the ACM. It was a great time as always and so good to catch up with a ton of old friends and meet some new ones. I was in a workshop on Senior-Friendly Technologies: Interaction Design for the Elderly on Saturday where I was talking about our recent study on communicating across generations and distance. During the workshop, I was also on a panel about the future of interaction for the elderly where I talked about the role of ambient devices in connecting people across distances with simple interaction and little configuration/setup. I also had a talk during the main conference on how we created Contacts 3.0, the reference design for the phone book service in MotoBLUR. The talk went really well and we even had a bunch of phones for the audience to play with after the talk.

So as I do every year, here's my annual list of the best/most interesting of the conference:

Skinput - A system from CMU and MSR that turns your skin into an input surface without cameras. A series of sensors placed on your upper arm are each tuned to a different set of frequencies and you can tap different places on your arm/hand and it can figure out where you touched.

Spyn - An awesome system from Berkeley that correlates media from your surroundings while making a craft to the object using your android phone. And then when you gift it, they get all of this rich contextual media about the creation of the object.

Contactless Power Sensor - UW's system to determine how much power your house is using from the fuse box without needing to touch any wires or even take the cover off of the box.

Happy Coincidences - A Japanese paper of a system that plays a chime when you and a remote person both do the same thing at the same time (sit on the couch, change to the same TV program, open the door/window). Really neat.

Newport - UC Irvine and MSR's system to share media from your computer while in a phone call. Sort of like Motorola's Push To View from iDEN phones but linked up to your computer where you might have a whole lot more media to share.

Who's Hogging the Bandwidth - Georgia Tech and MSR's ambient display of bandwidth usage in the home, with sliders to limit certain peoples' bandwidth if you want to throttle them down. Caused a lot of debate and discussion!

Where Should I Turn - A collaboration between CMU, Northwestern, and GM looking at how people navigate in cars with real people of different relations (Mother and son, couple, strangers). Interesting differences between spoken navigation commands.