Welcome to the July 2018 SIGCHI edition of ACM TechNews.
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University of Glasgow Professor Leads Research Into 'Brainy' Skin That Mimics the Sense of Touch
The National (Scotland)
July 4, 2018
Ravinder Dahiya at the University of Glasgow in the U.K. is leading research on ultra-flexible, hypersensitive "thinking skin" fashioned from silicon-based printed neural transistors and graphene. Dahiya says the Neuromorphic Printed Tactile Skin will leverage technological advances in electronic engineering to mimic human skin features such as softness, bendability, and sense of touch. "This skin will not just mimic the morphology of the skin, but also its functionality," says Dahiya. The skin's computer collects tactile data over large areas instead of transmitting it to the brain for interpretation. Dahiya's next step is creating tactile skin with neuron-like processing by adding a neural layer to the skin developed via printed silicon nanowires. "This will add significant new perspective to the e-skin research, and trigger transformations in areas such as robotics, prosthetics, artificial intelligence, wearable systems, next-generation computing, and flexible and printed electronics," he predicts.
Game On: U of S Professor Uses Video Games to Explore the Human Condition
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
June 29, 2018
Regan Mandryk at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada is studying video games for insights into human-computer interaction. She has assisted with the development of games to promote exercise and enhance attention in children, as well as studying gameplay's benefits to neurological development. "I spent a few years trying to understand players," Mandryk says. "And then I took that understanding of peoples' motivation to play games and started thinking about 'how can we leverage that motivational pull of games to do other things,' to help people make smarter decisions." Mandryk's latest research concentrates on whether video games can be used to evaluate mental health. Should this research prove successful, it is possible games could be used to deliver aid faster to people who need it, or even be programmed to respond to players and provide them with assistance instantly.
Can Your Smartphone Stop You From Getting Hit by a Car?
June 29, 2018
Researchers in the Hank Virtual Environments Lab at the University of Iowa used virtual environment technology to study how people cross busy streets while using their smartphones. Wearing virtual reality glasses or head-mounted displays, volunteers were required to navigate a three-dimensional neighborhood while texting. If the participant was about to make a dangerous road crossing, a loud warning signal sounded from their phone to make them look up. Although many of the study participants exhibited the expected behavior of heeding the warning and making safer crossings, some did not stop or return to the curb. In addition, some users looked at the road much less when they know they are using the alert system. "The concern is what we call 'outsourcing our cognition'—you allow the phone to make the decision for you," says the University of Iowa's Joseph Kearney, who is studying vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) technology. Neil Gaffney of the Federal Highway Administration said V2P will “eventually be a viable solution to improve safety.”
Computer Therapy Can Help People With Aphasia Find Lost Words
University of Sheffield
June 29, 2018
A five-year study conducted at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. determined self-managed computer therapy can help aphasia sufferers learn new words even years after a debilitating stroke. The method combined a program personalized to the individual by a speech and language therapist with independent at-home exercise by patients, along with volunteer or speech/language therapy assistant support. The study outcomes demonstrated that computer therapy enabled patients to boost their speech and language practice to 28 hours over a six-month period on average, versus 3.8 hours when using standard speech and language therapy. "Our study showed that 61% of people continued to use the computer therapy after the end of the trial intervention period, showing that people with aphasia want to continue learning words and can do this independently," says Sheffield's Rebecca Palmer.
Ultrathin Electronic Tattoos for Wearable Computing
July 4, 2018
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers are using a commercially available printer to fabricate super-thin, tattoo-like circuits for use as wearable computing systems. "We use a desktop inkjet printer to print traces of silver nanoparticles on temporary tattoo paper," explains CMU's Carmel Majidi. "We then coat the particles with a thin layer of gallium indium alloy that increases the electrical conductivity and allows the printed circuit to be more mechanically robust. The tattoos are ultrathin, very stretchable, and inexpensive to produce." The tattoo circuits can maintain function when bent, folded, twisted, and strained by up to about 30% because they possess mechanical properties similar to lightweight fabrics. They also can conform and bind to highly curved three-dimensional (3D) surfaces. Epidermal biomonitoring, soft robotics, and flexible displays are among the technology's potential applications.
How to Control Robots With Brainwaves and Hand Gestures
June 20, 2018
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is leading development of a robotic-control system that responds to the operator's brain signals and gestures. "This work combining EEG (electroencephalography) and EMG (electromyography) feedback enables natural human-robot interactions for a broader set of applications than we've been able to do before using only EEG feedback," says CSAIL's Daniela Rus. "By including muscle feedback, we can use gestures to command the robot spatially, with much more nuance and specificity." The researchers demonstrated the system on a task in which a robot moved a drill to one of three possible targets on the body of a mock plane. With human supervision, the robot went from selecting the right target 70% of the time to more than 97% of the time. "What's great about this approach is that there's no need to train users to think in a prescribed way," says MIT's Joseph DelPreto. "The machine adapts to you, and not the other way around."
People Recall Information Better Through Virtual Reality, Says New UMD Study
UMD Right Now
June 15, 2018
University of Maryland (UMD) researchers analyzing the use of virtual reality (VR) in education found that people remember information better when it is presented in a virtual environment. "This data...suggests that immersive environments could offer new pathways for improved outcomes in education and high-proficiency training," says UMD's Amitabh Varshney. The team divided 40 volunteers into a cohort that viewed information first using a VR head-mounted display and then on a desktop, and another group that followed the opposite approach. Both groups navigated two "memory palace" environments adorned with celebrity faces, then were tasked with remembering the locations of faces after they had been replaced by numbers. The researchers found an 8.8% improvement overall in recall accuracy using VR, which they described as statistically significant.
Fake Facebook Account Reveals How We Fall for Fake News
University of Nottingham (United Kingdom)
June 14, 2018
A study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. highlights how Facebook users can be tricked into believing fake news. Nottingham's Martin Flintham and Kristian Karmer set up a fictitious Facebook account, to which they posted a mixture of real and fake news. "As our participants scrolled through [the bogus account-holder's] posts they were asked to 'think aloud' by stating their initial thoughts and judgments on the news content," says Flintham. "Our results showed an overall weak level of confidence in their ability to detect fake news." Flintham notes that 37% of social-media users admitted to coming across a news story they initially thought was true, only to realize it was distorted to some degree. Only 61% of study participants bothered to click through and read the entire article to determine its validity. The researchers said their findings reflect a shift away from traditional methods of accessing the news, and from traditional news providers, and underscores the problems faced in trying to combat the spread of fake news.
Purdue Professor's Prototype Sends Messages Through Skin
Lafayette Journal & Courier (IN)
June 27, 2018
Purdue University's Hong Tan is leading research that has yielded a prototype system that transmits messages through vibrations in the skin. In the past year, Tan's team has been testing 50 participants who had 24 small, round vibrators affixed to one of their arms, and who were then taught all 39 phonemes, and later full words, communicated via the vibrators. Tan says the participants who tested in the higher percentile were learning approximately one word per minute, with a full vocabulary of 500 words. As the work continues, Tan imagines the technology being used by everyone regardless of ability or physical handicap, even for something as simple as texting during class.
Your Reaction to Pics of Leonardo DiCaprio, Animals Could Unlock Your Next Smartphone
UB News Center
June 5, 2018
The University at Buffalo's (UB) Wenyao Xu and colleagues are developing a new security measure for advanced smartphones—a security system that measures users' brainwaves in response to a series of images. "This is the first in-depth research study on a truly cancelable brain biometric system," says UB's Zhanpeng Jin. The team modified a virtual-reality headset with six electrodes: three to record brain activity, two to function as grounds, and one to serve as a reference point. Users were flashed three specific images during 1.2-second intervals each in four rounds, with the brain password ready after the fourth round. The researchers found brain passwords were more than 95% effective among the 179 adults tested.
Haptic Armband Mimics Human Touch
USC Viterbi News
June 20, 2018
The University of Southern California's Heather Culbertson, in collaboration with Stanford University researchers, has developed a haptic armband that mimics the sensation of a finger moving along the arm. The wearable textile is embedded with minuscule speaker actuators that rise and fall to imitate different sensations; the actuators are governed and timed by an algorithm to generate a "haptic illusion" that feels like an actual human touch. "With this device, we're creating the illusion of lateral side-to-side motion using vertical up-and-down motion," says Culbertson. Culbertson's team used six small exciter speakers embedded within a lightweight fabric sleeve. When driven at low frequencies, the speakers produce motion, instead of the vibrations or sounds generated at higher frequencies.
Calendar of Events
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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