Welcome to the February 2018 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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Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Involve Human Senses in Verifying the Operations of Information Systems
VTT Technical Research Center
January 24, 2018
Researchers in the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland's Human Verifiable Computing project have employed augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality to develop mechanisms for building trust between humans and systems and to enable verification of information security. VTT's Kimmo Halunen says making cryptographically verifiable computing available to human users was critical, and AR was used in one experiment to distribute single-use passwords that could then be employed via voice recognition. AR also was used to deliver multisensory feedback by showing visual instructions to a maintenance worker who turns a valve and is alerted if the valve is operated incorrectly. Halunen notes the message can be implemented as an interactive image or as audio on the user's smart glasses, while haptic feedback can be supplied by making the user's smart watch or other mobile device vibrate. The researchers say the project's results suggest the basic technology required for verifying computing with human senses is already available.
Changing the Color of 3D Printed Objects
January 29, 2018
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have unveiled ColorFab, a method for repeatedly changing the colors of three-dimensional (3D) printed objects after fabrication. The team used custom ink that changes color when exposed to ultraviolet light, enabling a multicolored object to be recolored in about 20 minutes. The method initially involves having users upload a 3D model with the ColorFab interface, choose their desired color patterns, and then print their fully colored object. Once printing is completed, ultraviolet light can be applied to activate desired colors and visible light to deactivate others. The CSAIL team uses an ultraviolet light to change the pixels on an object from transparent to colored, and a conventional office projector to convert them from colored to transparent. A paper on ColorFab will be presented in April at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2018) in Montreal, Canada.
Eye Blink Can Control Devices
Hindu Business Line (India)
Dinesh C. Sharma
January 18, 2018
Researchers in India say they have developed a human-machine interface that can be operated using electric signals produced by eye blinks. A team from Indian national laboratory Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIO) demonstrated a method to process electroencephalography signals generated during intentional eye blinks with a microcontroller, and cause them to perform desired tasks by actuating a corresponding device from several linked appliances. "We have used it in our laboratory to control devices like the speed of a DC motor and the results have been highly encouraging," says CSIO's Raj Kumar. He also notes the system can be adapted to the specific needs of the user, and can be attached or detached for actuation of different appliances based on the user's requirements. "These experiments clearly demonstrate that the system is suitable for human-machine interface and may be used for the development of devices that are helpful for persons with disabilities," the researchers say.
How a Poor User Interface Design Caused the Hawaii Missile Scare
January 15, 2018
The recent false alarm of a ballistic missile strike on Hawaii was blamed on a poorly designed Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) user interface that alerted residents of the attack on their smartphones. The Washington Post reported a HEMA employee mistakenly chose the wrong option from a drop-down list, issuing a genuine alert to the public instead of a bogus alert to HEMA staff. The two options were tagged almost identically and placed one after another, while the only protection against accidental alert launches was one confirmation prompt. "Even though the menu option still required confirmation that the user really wanted to send an alert, that wasn't enough, on this occasion, to prevent the worker from robotically clicking onwards," says security expert Graham Cluley. HEMA has altered the system, requiring all genuine alerts to be verified by a second person before issuance, and adding a cancellation button so citizens can be immediately informed in case of another false alarm.
Lack of Diversity in Video Games Has Negative Mental Effect on Players, Says Sask. Researcher
CBC News (Canada)
January 28, 2018
A student at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Human-Computer Interaction Lab in Canada is investigating the effects of video games' lack of diversity, and has found it to be having an adverse impact on players. U of S student Cale Passmore says a poll of about 300 U.S. gamers found this effect differed among people with different experiences. "The same long-term effects of depression, detachment, disengagement, low self-worth are present as outcomes, as you would see in everyday, daily racism," Passmore notes. Although most respondents agreed video game characters are generally white and most non-white characters are stereotypes, the observations of participants who identified as people of color were more accurate in comparison with the actual data on the lack of diversity. Passmore says respondents who were expected to have a negative reaction instead expressed a belief that their own "community" would support more diversity in video games.
New Wearable to Aid Healthcare Professionals Assess Frailty
January 22, 2018
The European Union-funded FRAILSAFE project has developed the Wearable Wireless Body Area Network System (WWBS), which combines a sensor-equipped t-shirt, an electronic device, and software for the visual streaming of data so health providers can unobtrusively monitor frailty in patients. The t-shirt includes fabric electrodes for electrocardiogram monitoring and a fabric piezoresistive sensor for respiration monitoring. Each sleeve has a box containing a 9-Degrees of Freedom (DoF) inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor, while a pocket on the chest houses a device with another DoF IMU sensor, with cables linking the device to the sensors. The device compiles all the information collected by the t-shirt and retains it on a microSD card, and data can be sent via Bluetooth to a computer or an Android device for real-time analysis. The WWBS can track the wearer's posture, heart rate variability, respiration signal and rate, activity classification, the distance in milliseconds between two QRS complexes, and the number of steps taken.
People With Tetraplegia Gain Rapid Use of Brain-Computer Interface
News from Brown
January 24, 2018
Researchers at Brown University say they have demonstrated new methods enabling participants with tetraplegia to achieve peak brain-computer interface (BCI) performance on the BrainGate platform within three minutes of engaging in a simple one-step process. "Our new approach removes the need for technician oversight during calibration," notes Brown's David Brandman. He says the new process accelerates and simplifies calibration by employing decoder software using statistical learning algorithms. Brandman notes this consequently enables the BCI platform to more rapidly learn what the neural signals recorded by motor cortex implants are communicating about the user's intention to move their arms and hands. To determine which controller imagery users found most intuitive, the researchers performed calibration with each of five additional modes of attempted motion after beginning with the joystick imagery that a user selected, and they found the user achieved near-peak control within 60 seconds in every mode.
Pittsburgh Uses Data to Predict Fire Risk
January 25, 2018
Pittsburgh's Bureau of Fire is using predictive analytics to prioritize commercial building inspections, working with Carnegie Mellon University's (CMU) Metro21: Smart Cities Initiative. The CMU Human-Computer Interaction Institute's Michael Madaio says the Fire Risk Analysis predictive model simulates the probability of a fire incident occurring in a commercial property in a given year based on historical fire incident data from the city's Bureau of Fire and commercial property data from municipal agencies. "That likelihood is converted to a risk score for each commercial property, which has been deployed in an interactive map visualization used by Pittsburgh fire inspectors to assist in their planning and prioritization of inspections," Madaio says. He also notes the model currently runs on the Bureau's servers, updating with new data and "re-training" periodically. In addition, a CMU student team is working to add new data sources and perform advanced machine-learning experiments for better temporal representation in the model.
Step Inside the Lab Designing New Human-Computer Interfaces
Wired UK (United Kingdom)
January 22, 2018
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Augmented Human Lab in Singapore are designing new human-computer interface technologies focusing on more intuitive devices for users with disabilities. "There seems to be a gap between what technology has to offer and what we are naturally able to do--our lab is focusing on how we can bring this gap together," says lab director Suranga Nanayakkara. He cites as an example the Finger Reader, a ring that converts text into speech for the visually impaired. The device uses optical character recognition, a small camera, and headphones so users can read without carrying cumbersome equipment. Another project developed at Nanayakkara's lab is Swimsight, a lights-based system that shifts color to signal the start of a race to hearing-impaired swimmers. With the lab soon relocating to New Zealand, Nanayakkara says he and his team plan to continue their work on technologies to provide "assistive augmentation" to the deaf and blind.
UTA Using Robots, Shakespeare to Study Ways to Address Loneliness
January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington's (UTA) Emotional Robotics Living Lab are "looking at robots that would be companions socially with human beings," says UTA professor Julienne Greer. One recently completed UTA study involved seniors at an independent living facility where robots and adults spoke to each other using well-known sonnets from Shakespeare. Greer notes after three weeks of human-robot interaction, a significant drop in feelings of depression and greater engagement with the robots were observed among the residents. Greer says this experiment demonstrated that robots can be used to give senior citizens many of the same health benefits as arts and cultural activities. She foresees advancements in artificial intelligence continuing to refine robots' human characteristics to include tics, patterns of speech, and other distinctive features. "There are just so many applications," Greer says. "In the next decade, it will explode."
Virtual Reality Goes Magnetic
January 19, 2018
Researchers at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Germany and the Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria have developed a wearable ultrathin electronic magnetic sensor to facilitate touchless manipulation of virtual and physical objects. "Our electronic skin traces the movement of a hand, for example, by changing its position with respect to the external magnetic field of a permanent magnet," says HZDR's Canon Bermudez. "This not only means that we can digitize its rotations and translate them to the virtual world but also even influence objects there." The researchers note they have applied this technology to control a virtual light bulb on a computer screen. The team initially set a permanent magnet in a ring-shaped plastic structure mimicking a dial, then coded the angle between the sensor and the magnetic source with a control parameter, which modulated the intensity of the light bulb.
WPI Professor Finds Inspiration at Intersection of Gaming and Crafts
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
January 17, 2018
Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor Gillian Smith says she is applying her love of crafts and gaming to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. Examples of her work include building algorithms that use crowdsourced databases of color pallets to produce original embroidery patterns that Smith employs in her own stitching. Smith also is co-creator of eBee, a quilt-based game that teaches players to create working circuits out of quilted pieces that use regular quilting material, conductive fabric, conductive Velcro, batteries, and light-emitting diodes. "It's about a partnership between humans and machines in the art of creation," Smith says of her research. "It's also about how we can look at computer science and crafts differently by looking at them together." Smith is scheduled to lead a course on novel game interfaces that use crafts, as well as a course on human-computer interaction that employs both gaming and crafting.
Calendar of Events
HRI ‘18: ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction
IUI ‘18: 23rd International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces
TEI ‘18: Twelfth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interactions
CHI '18: CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
DIS ‘18: Designing Interactive Systems Conference
Hung Hom, Hong Kong
ETRA ‘18: 2018 ACM Symposium on Eye Tracking Research and Applications
EICS ‘18: ACM SIGCHI Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems
IDC ‘18: Interaction Design and Children Conference
TVX ‘18: ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences for TV and Online Video
CI’18: Collective Intelligence
UMAP ‘18: User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization Conference
MobileHCI ‘18: 20th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services
AutomotiveUI ‘18: 10th International ACM Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications
RecSys ‘18: 12th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems
Ubicomp ‘18: The 2018 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing
SUI ’18: Symposium on Spatial User Interaction
UIST ‘18: The 31st Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology
ICMI ‘18: International Conference on Multimodal Interaction
CHIPLAY ‘18: The Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play
CSCW ‘18: ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing
Jersey City, NJ
ISS ’18: Interactive Surfaces and Spaces
VRST ‘18: 24th ACM Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology
Nov. 28-Dec. 1
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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