Welcome to the October 2017 SIGCHI edition of ACM TechNews.

ACM TechNews - SIGCHI Edition is a sponsored special edition of the ACM TechNews news-briefing service focused on issues in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). This service serves as a resource for ACM-SIGCHI Members to keep abreast of the latest news in areas related to HCI and is distributed to all ACM SIGCHI members the first Tuesday of every month.

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Humanizing Cars, Sensitizing Humans Humanizing Cars, Sensitizing Humans
San Francisco Chronicle
Carolyn Said; David R. Baker
September 22, 2017

Social scientists such as Nissan Research Center's Melissa Cefkin believe humanity's relationship to automobiles must evolve to accommodate autonomous vehicles. Cefkin is experimenting with future human-car interactions using technology such as "intention indicators," or patterned lights that self-driving cars can employ to signal their next move. "It's crucial to make self-driving cars accepted in society so people feel they are trustworthy and part of daily life," says Drive.ai CEO Sameep Tandon. Improved vehicle-to-person communication will be invaluable, with experts predicting mixed robot car and human traffic for possibly decades. Current automotive forms of communication--signal lights, turn signals, and horns--could be supplemented with audible cues, patterned lights, and rooftop displays. University of California, Berkeley professor Anca Dragan is going a step further, imbuing reasoning into autos via computer simulation to understand other road-users' intentions. Some automakers are using deep-learning algorithms to make self-driving vehicles more adaptive, while others are deploying in-vehicle social cues to put passengers at ease.

Full Article
The Technologies Driving the Haptics Revolution
The Engineer (United Kingdom)
Andrew Wade
September 18, 2017

Haptics technology is achieving mainstream acceptance thanks to the spread of smartphones and touchscreens, while the growing appeal of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality also are driving rapid advances. Potential healthcare applications include surgery simulation, with Generic Robotics director Alastair Barrow noting, "one really important aspect is this close association of feedback between the sense of touch and dexterous motion...so we can use haptic devices to simulate doing procedures." Fundamental VR co-founder Chris Scattergood also is concentrating on the convergence of VR and haptics in healthcare, as his company's FeelReal VR platform uses devices to model surgical settings. Scattergood says once deployed, haptic feedback mimics incisions, injections, and other procedures, while proprietary software maps and calibrates more than 20 tissue types. Meanwhile, researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London in the U.K. are developing a haptic interface for visually-impaired audio producers, and they say their Haptic Wave device offers a tactile translation of visual soundwaves.

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A New World of Opportunities for the Blind A New World of Opportunities for the Blind
September 19, 2017

The European Union-funded Personal Assistive Device for blind and visually impaired people (BlindPAD) project seeks to make graphical content tactilely accessible for people with vision disabilities. The Italian Institute of Technology's Luca Brayda describes BlindPAD as "a system comprising a new tactile tablet, software translating images into tactile representations, and a series of exercises that together make digital graphical information accessible to blind and visually-impaired persons." Brayda says BlindPAD's tactile display is comprised of 192 electromagnetic, independent tactile pins called taxels, which can display both static and moving patterns to render arbitrary simple sketches such as graphs and symbols. "We have shown that the BlindPAD successfully trains visual-spatial working memory, complex mental operations, and mathematical concepts and helps picture maps of unknown rooms, helping people to find their own position in a real environment," Brayda says. He also notes experimentation demonstrated that many spatial tasks can be efficiently performed using only about 200 taxels.

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The 3 Biggest Challenges Facing Augmented Reality Today
Road to VR
Ben Lang
September 29, 2017

Immersive augmented reality (AR) technology still needs to overcome three main challenges in order to go mainstream, writes Road to VR founder Ben Lang. He says the first challenge is widening the field of view so AR can seamlessly blend with real-world perspective. "Oculus has in the past argued that you need at least 90 degrees to experience true presence and, at least anecdotally, the [virtual reality] industry at large seems to concur," Lang notes. The second major challenge is implementing real-time object classification, with Lang saying most AR systems only perceive objects, and do not understand them. "We may be able to train computerized neural networks--which are designed to automatically adapt their programming over time--to reliably detect many common objects around us," Lang notes. The third challenge involves adaptive AR design, and Lang says this could take many years to get right, since it involves accounting for a countless number of environmental variables.

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It Takes 30 Seconds for Your Fingerprint to Grip Your Smartphone It Takes 30 Seconds for Your Fingerprint to Grip Your Smartphone
New Scientist
Colin Barras
September 25, 2017

Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. found it can take 30 seconds or more for a person's fingers to engage in full contact with a touchscreen, which could potentially delay access to phones and getting screens to respond. They note next-generation touchscreens already are being designed to use ultrasonic vibrations that give the illusion that smooth glass has texture. The screen can be made to feel smoother or rougher by varying the frequency of vibration when the user touches particular parts of it. The vibrations decrease the friction between skin and touchscreen for a smoother glide, but they also mean a finger has only intermittent contact with the glass. The researchers note this could lead to problems with responsiveness, so Birmingham researcher Michael Adams says developers may have to take his findings into consideration and make allowances for finger friction changes.

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In Search of a Scale for Human-Robot Interactions
Computerworld Australia
George Nott
September 28, 2017

Nicole Robinson at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia wants to develop a psychometric scale for human-robot interactions, and is soliciting public participation for her study. "Some people may really enjoy it and feel a strong degree of comfort around a robot or bond to it, whereas others may not feel convinced about it and may not want to do it again," Robinson says. "We are still learning what separates these two types of people from each other." Robinson notes the general public's opinions and views could inform the development of a robot's task, role, or behavior so people are more accepting of it. Her study entails participants watching a video of a robot and a person discussing a topic, and then answering a questionnaire. Robinson says with enough exposure, robots "could follow in a similar pattern to other types of technology and become another regular type of tech around us in the near future."

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These Concept Smart Glasses Let You Control Your Phone by Scratching Your Nose
The Verge
James Vincent
September 19, 2017

Researchers at KAIST University in South Korea, Keio University in Japan, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed ItchyNose, prototype smart glasses that enable users to control devices by touching their nose. ItchyNose uses three electrooculography sensors that are incorporated into the bridge and nosepads of the eyeglass frame, which quantify the electric potential of the surrounding skin. Touching the nose in different ways changes its electric potential, such as flicking and pushing the nose to one side or the other, or rubbing the bottom. The team has identified the specific signatures of different motions and used them to execute particular device commands. KAIST's Juyoung Lee says ItchyNose could be used to minimize social awkwardness when using wearable computers, and he envisions it being worn directly in front of the eyes. University of St. Andrews researcher Hui-Shyong Yeo notes the current challenge is getting the system to distinguish between intentional and unintentional nose scratches.

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How 'Intelligent' Tutors Could Transform Teaching
Education Week
Sarah D. Sparks
September 26, 2017

Artificially intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) are starting to push into K-12 education, with experts stressing the need for teachers to train for their classroom use and apply them to preparing students for jobs in increasingly technology-integrated disciplines. ITS simulate students' psychological states and their prior knowledge to tailor instruction for them. As students engage with the ITS, the system gathers data about their frustration levels and their problem-solving methodology, evolving in response to the users so lessons and evaluations can be refined. "Whether the [ITS] is like a human or not doesn't matter if it works better in some ways," says Carnegie Mellon University professor Kenneth Koedinger. "In a system that big, you can replicate a strategy in a reliable way and try it against a separate strategy and see what works better, very quickly." However, ITS developers agree the tutor programs cannot work effectively without the participation of teachers.

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Study Finds That Banning Trolls Works, to Some Degree Study Finds That Banning Trolls Works, to Some Degree
Claire Downs
September 13, 2017

Reddit's ban on online hate groups in 2015 was effective on a certain level, according to a study from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, and the University of Michigan. The researchers automatically extracted words from the banned subreddits to generate a dataset that included hate speech and community-specific jargon. By studying the accounts of users who were active on those subreddits and comparing their posting activity from before and after those objectionable subreddits were prohibited, the researchers tracked increases or decreases in the hate speech across Reddit and whether that speech had consequently spread to other subreddits. The team found many more accounts than anticipated stopped their use of the site after the ban. They also note active users usually decamped to groups where hate speech was already prevalent, instead of "spreading the infection" of hate speech to the rest of Reddit.

Full Article
WSU Grant Expands Smart Home Research at Spokane Facility
The Spokesman-Review (WA)
Treva Lind
September 18, 2017

Researchers at Washington State University will use a five-year, $1.77-million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research to advance research on smart home technology's capability to remotely monitor the health and safety of senior citizens, using a team of nursing, technology, and psychological experts. They will integrate the analytics generated by smart home sensors and health monitoring and assessment technology, while incorporating healthcare clinicians for automated health evaluations. The team also will further design and pilot the technology to identify health events for seniors. As sensors document information, a healthcare professional will recognize data relevant to a person's health and safety, while software engineers will develop algorithms to identify meaningful behavior patterns. The researchers say the work also could help seniors age in place by providing assessment and intervention in real time, as well as extending the functional independence of the elderly, mitigating caregiver burdens, and enhancing patients' quality of life.

Full Article

The Ultimate Barrier for Human-Machine Interactions The Ultimate Barrier for Human-Machine Interactions
The Sociable
Daniel Sanchez
September 14, 2017

Humans must have confidence in artificial intelligence (AI) in order to fully develop the potential of artificially intelligent agents (AIAs). "The interaction between humans and AIAs will become more 'natural,' as the AIA will be attempting to communicate fundamentally to a human's trust," predicts the University of Colorado Boulder's Brett Israelsen. "It doesn't matter what language you speak or what kind of user you are--all human decisions are influenced by trust." Israelsen says trustworthy AIAs are those that identify, prioritize, and deliver feedback to people's signs of trust, as they will perform according to human mandates and alert people when actions diverge from intent. "As assurances are implemented in AIAs, it should become easier and more natural [for humans] to use them correctly," Israelsen says. He notes a more structured deployment of assurances could promote highly sensitive applications with less human interaction, elevating AI development in fields such as medicine and intelligent architecture.

Full Article
Google Glass App Helps Autistic Children With Social Interactions
Emma Duncan
September 14, 2017

A prototype Google Glass software application called Holli is designed to help autistic children with everyday social interactions, because the technology can identify conversational prompts and provide the user with suitable responses in return. "We are not trying to replace human-to-human interactions; instead, we use this app to coach children who are communicating with people in real-world situations," says University of Toronto professor Azadeh Kushki. "Children can practice their skills outside of their normal therapy sessions and it can provide them with increased independence in everyday interactions." In one instance, when a user is greeted by a person who says "Welcome," Holli will supply various responses to choose from, such as "Hey" or "Hello." When the app recognizes the user's response, the prompts vanish and Holli waits for the next conversational exchange. "These systems can be used in everyday settings, such as home and school, to reinforce techniques learned in therapeutic settings," Kushki says.

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Calendar of Events
CHIPLAY '17: The annual symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play
Oct. 15-18
Amsterdam, Netherlands

SUI '17: Symposium on Spatial User Interaction
Oct. 16-17
Brighton, United Kingdom

ISS '17: Interactive Surfaces and Spaces
Oct. 18-20
Brighton, UK

UIST '17: The 30th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology
Oct. 23-25
Quebec, Canada

VRST '17: 23rd ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology
Nov. 8-10
Gothenburg, Sweden

ICMI '17: International Conference on Multimodal Interaction
Nov. 13-17
Glasgow, UK


SIGCHI is the premier international society for professionals, academics and students who are interested in human-technology and human-computer interaction (HCI). We provide a forum for the discussion of all aspects of HCI through our conferences, publications, web sites, email discussion groups, and other services. We advance education in HCI through tutorials, workshops and outreach, and we promote informal access to a wide range of individuals and organizations involved in HCI. Members can be involved in HCI-related activities with others in their region through Local SIGCHI chapters. SIGCHI is also involved in public policy.

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