Welcome to the December 2017 SIGCHI edition of ACM TechNews.

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Robotic Arms With a Human-Like Sense of Touch Robotic Arms With a Human-Like Sense of Touch
Keio University (Japan)
November 30, 2017

Researchers at Keio University in Japan say they have created a "real haptics" avatar-robot with a General Purpose Arm (GPA) that transmits sound, vision, movement, and tactile perception to remotely located users in real time. The team notes the avatar-robot GPA employs both high-precision motors in the avatar arm and algorithms to drive them, with the precise control of force and position being essential for transmitting the sense of touch without using conventional touch sensors. The robot GPA can identify shapes and compositions of hard or soft materials, as well as the position of objects in three-dimensional space; the device also can manipulate them based on real-time instructions from a remotely located user. "Our real-haptics technology is an integral part of the Internet of Actions [IoA] technology with potential applications in manufacturing, agriculture, medicine, and nursing care," says Keio professor Takahiro Nozaki. One IoA application he notes the GPA is being tested on is for fruit picking.

Full Article
Wearable Computing Ring Allows Users to Write Words and Numbers With Thumb
Georgia Tech News Center
Jason Maderer
November 29, 2017

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) have created Fingersound, a thumb ring enabling users to interface with smart devices, tracing letters and numbers and seeing the figures displayed on a computer screen. Users strum their thumb across their fingers, and the movement is detected by the ring's hardware. Fingersound can identify the beginning and end of an intended gesture by using the microphone and gyroscope to detect the signal. "Our system uses sound and movement to identify intended gestures, which improves the accuracy compared to a system just looking for movements," says Georgia Tech's Cheng Zhang. Georgia Tech professor Thad Starner notes one future application would be to send calls to voice mail or answer text messages without creating a distraction by reaching for or looking at the phone. Fingersound was presented in September at the ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (Ubicomp 2017) and the International Symposium on Wearable Computing (ISWC 2017) in Maui, HI.

Full Article
Launch of the World's First Online Platform for Digital Accessibility
November 20, 2017

The European Union-funded Prosperity4All project has launched DeveloperSpace, the first-ever online digital accessibility platform where interested parties, developers, companies, and scientists can develop simple, cost-effective, and efficient solutions for assistive technologies. "Our primary goal...is to provide a platform that brings together elements that already exist: a place where developers, for example, can find modules, codes, diagrams, and ideas from other developers or scientists and can use these themselves," says project leader Matthias Peissner. "We want to bring together existing research findings to create new solutions that actually work in a market context." DeveloperSpace forms a key support of the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII), which along with building better accessibility solutions aims to enable customization of digital technologies for all users." [DeveloperSpace is] the only place to offer new developers the whole range of resources and information on accessibility that is available online," says GPII co-director Gregg Vanderheiden.

Full Article
The Surgeon Who Wants to Connect You to the Internet With a Brain Implant
Technology Review
Adam Piore
November 30, 2017

Washington University neurosurgeon Eric C. Leuthardt envisions neural prosthetics advancing in the near future, to the point where humans will have electronic brain implants that interface directly with the Internet and each other. Leuthardt says it is reasonable to assume that a cellphone's functionality could be embedded within a single grain of rice within the next 20 years. "That could be put into your head in a minimally invasive way, and would be able to perform the computations necessary to be a really effective brain-computer interface," he notes. Previous experiments by Leuthardt and colleagues found electrode arrays in the brains of human patients enabled them to play a video game by thought alone. Using pattern-recognition software, Leuthardt and Gerwin Schalk at the New York Department of Health demonstrated the ability to decode intention. Leuthardt notes the buzz emanating from Silicon Valley has generated "real excitement and real thinking about brain-computer interfaces being a practical reality."

Full Article
Birmingham University Is Pioneering VR, AR, Simulation, and Telerobotics Systems
New Electronics
Neil Tyler
November 29, 2017

The Human Interface Technologies Team (HITT) of Birmingham University in the U.K. is pioneering virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, simulation, and telerobotics technology. The team stresses the value of understanding human factors when developing such technologies. "Our research looks to avoid the technology push failures that were so evident in the 1980s, '90s, and early 2000s by developing and evaluating demonstrators that emphasize the importance of the human context," says HITT founder and Birmingham professor Bob Stone. When it was established, HITT worked closely with the U.K.'s Human Factors Integration Defense Technology Center, while more recently it has participated in collaborative projects in maritime defense and unmanned systems. "When it comes to developing demonstrators, we are focused on using affordable technology that makes training more streamlined, portable, and transferable and which de-risks solutions," Stone notes. His philosophy is that the end-user's needs should always come first and technology second when developing simulators.

Full Article

Researchers From Music and Engineering Team Up to Turn Big Data Into Sound Researchers From Music and Engineering Team Up to Turn Big Data Into Sound
Virginia Tech News
Susan Bland
November 28, 2017

Music and engineering researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) are jointly developing Spatial Audio Data Immersive Experience (SADIE), a data analysis platform designed to convert data into sound to gain new insights. Instead of putting information in a visual context to reveal patterns or correlations, SADIE will use a sound environment to exploit the natural affordances of the space and the user's whereabouts within the sound field. "Identifying new time and space correlations between variables often leads to breakthroughs in the physical sciences," says Virginia Tech professor Ivica Ico Bukvic. "It makes sense that we would want to go beyond two-dimensional graphical models of information and make new discoveries using senses other than our eyes." SADIE will represent datasets associated with the Earth's upper atmospheric system as distinct aural properties in the Cube facility, where a motion-capture system will let users navigate the sonified data via a gesture-driven interface.

Full Article
The Next User You Design for Won't Be a Human
Matthew Milan
November 20, 2017

Human-centered design is expected to eventually transition to a hybrid human-machine design paradigm, which is being called "Centaur Design." One company focusing on technologies for this paradigm is Google, which has designed a navigation application called Waze equipped with a machine-learning system that monitors all drivers linked to a network in real time. Any instructions a driver enters results in Waze delivering a route optimized not only for them, but for the entire network of drivers using the app, making decisions that prioritize the group over the individual. The app automatically tracks drivers when they install it, but it also lets them report accidents and other elements to inform real-time route recommendations. The computer assumes control of directions while the drivers provide context. A key challenge of making Centaur Design viable for everyday users is engendering a sense of trust in systems when users know they have little actual control over them.

Full Article

How Maryland Computer Scientists Are Bringing the Past to Life How Maryland Computer Scientists Are Bringing the Past to Life
Big Ten Network
John Tolley
November 14, 2017

To enhance replicating the experience of living in Soviet-controlled East Berlin as part of a historical exhibit about the Berlin Wall, the Newseum in Washington, D.C., enlisted computer scientists and developers from the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS). "What they did was brought to the museum the technology we needed in order to bring people to the streets of East Berlin where they can experience the power of the Berlin Wall," says the Newseum's Mitch Gelman. UMIACS developers note they employed the Unity video game design platform to produce a three-dimensional proof-of-concept environment in which users can walk the streets of East Berlin, view both sides of the city from the guard tower, and even participate in the wall's dismantling. Maryland's Mukul Agarwa, a graduate student in human-computer interaction, contributed significantly to the seamless integration of visual assets within the environment, adding authenticity to the simulation.

Full Article
Dartmouth Computer Scientist at Forefront of Sensing Revolution
Valley News (NH)
Rob Wolfe
November 18, 2017

Dartmouth College professor Andrew Campbell leads a team that has launched the CampusLife consortium, a coalition of U.S. and European universities and students using various mobile sensing applications to examine student health. Campbell says he was inspired to create such apps out of a desire to improve the medical treatment of depression and other healthcare services. These and other achievements have placed Campbell at the leading edge of sensing innovation, and he predicts scaling up sensing technologies so they can reliably serve the general public will require the resources of a major company. Campbell recently concluded a research fellowship with Google, in which he explored smartphone sensing at Verily Life Sciences, a Google-owned research entity. Other researchers and organizations investigating mobile sensing include the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is underwriting the development of a mobile app that will passively evaluate soldiers' readiness for battle, known as the Warfighter Analytics using Smartphones for Health (WASH) project.

Full Article

Intelligent Voice Leads Interactive Conversational AI Project Intelligent Voice Leads Interactive Conversational AI Project
Digital Journal
Tim Sandle
November 15, 2017

The European Commission (EC) has awarded a 4-million-euro ($4.75-million) grant to Intelligent Voice to jointly develop an interactive "health bot" with several other companies and academia across seven European countries. The EMPATHIC project seeks to create a conversational "Personalized Virtual Coach" to help seniors live independently, an important consideration as the population of seniors in the European Union grows. Each firm nominated by the EC will concentrate on generating evidence-based research and integrating intelligent user and context sensing methods via voice, eye, and facial analysis, in combination with intelligent heuristics, visual and spoken dialogue systems, and system reaction capabilities. The Intelligent Voice system is targeting the application of cutting-edge speech-recognition solutions, and the project's key challenges include real-time speech recognition of multiple languages, as well as developing suitable machine-learning models to train the platform on medical subjects. In addition, the system will require effective speech synthesis to develop a conversational interface.

Full Article
Island University Professor Revolutionizes Museum Visit With Augmented Reality App
TAMU-Corpus Christi News
November 2, 2017

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi professor David Squires has developed the Instructional Design and Educational Technology Augmented Reality Transmedia Storytelling (IDET ARTS) application to enhance the visitor experience at the Art Museum of South Texas (AMST). The app employs AR to add interactivity and immersion, and Squires says AR's benefits "are that it can increase interest and participation for museum visitors of all ages." AMST has incorporated the IDET ARTS app into its Digital Darkroom exhibition, enabling visitors to activate interactive audio content when they hold up their IDET ARTS-loaded iOS device to a specific piece of artwork. "It's like having a tour guide in your hand, and moving through the exhibition at your pace," notes AMST official Karol Stewart. Squires says he plans to create a citywide IDET ARTS platform for science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) development for greater public engagement, and deeper learning in informal STEAM education.

Full Article

We Built a Robot Care Assistant for Elderly People—Here's How It Works We Built a Robot Care Assistant for Elderly People—Here's How It Works
The Conversation
Conor McGinn
November 21, 2017

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland have built Stevie, a wheeled, slightly humanoid robot designed to function as an assistant caregiver for seniors. Some tasks performed by Stevie, such as giving seniors medication reminders, are autonomous, while others involve human-robot interaction. Stevie also can help users maintain their social connections, with its head-screen enabling Skype calls, for example. Stevie offers versatile communication modes, including speaking, facial expression, onscreen text display, and gestures, thus following the principles of universal design so it can adapt to the requirements of the greatest possible number of users. The Trinity team's goal with such technology is to integrate empathy, compassion, and decision-making with robot-level efficiency, reliability, and continuous operation as a complement to human caregivers. The researchers envision assistant robots such as Stevie helping to relieve human caregivers from the burden of various routine and mundane tasks, so they can devote more time to engaging with their charges.

Full Article
Calendar of Events
GROUP ‘18: 2018 ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work
Jan. 7-10
Sanibel Island, FL

HRI ‘18: ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction
Mar. 5-8
Chicago, IL

IUI ‘18: 23rd International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces
Mar. 7-11
Tokyo, Japan

TEI ‘18: Twelfth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interactions
Mar. 18-21
Stockholm, Sweden

CHI '18: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
April 21-26
Montreal, Canada

DIS ‘18: Designing Interactive Systems Conference
June 9-13
Hung Hom, Hong Kong

ETRA ‘18: 2018 ACM Symposium on Eye Tracking Research and Applications
June 14-17
Warsaw, Poland

EICS ‘18: ACM SIGCHI Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems
June 19-22
Paris, France

IDC ‘18: Interaction Design and Children Conference
June 19-22
Trondheim, Norway

TVX ‘18: ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences for TV and Online Video
June 26-28
Seoul, Korea

UMAP ‘18: User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization Conference
July 8-11

MobileHCI ‘18: 20th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services
Sep. 3-6
Barcelona, Spain

AutomotiveUI ‘18: 10th International ACM Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications
Sep. 23-25
Toronto, Canada

RecSys ‘18: 12th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems
Oct. 2-7
Vancouver, Canada

Ubicomp ‘18: The 2018 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing
Oct. 8-12

UIST ‘18: The 31st Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology
Oct. 14-17
Berlin, Germany

ICMI ‘18: International Conference on Multimodal Interaction
Oct. 16-20
Boulder, CO

CHIPLAY ‘18: The Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play
Oct. 28-31
Melbourne, Australia

CSCW ‘18: ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing
Nov. 3-7
Jersey City, NJ

ISS ’18: Interactive Surfaces and Spaces
Nov. 25-28
Tokyo, Japan

VRST ‘18: 24th ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology
Nov. 28-Dec. 1
Tokyo, Japan


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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