And We Award the Inaugural TOCHI Best Paper Award, 2016, to…



We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts for a special message from TOCHI’s Editor-in-Chief, Ken Hinckley, who shares with us some breaking news…


Banner for ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction Best Paper Award, 2016

And yesthank you, because indeed a very special moment in the history of the TOCHI journal has arrived, and herein we unveil the inaugural…


ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction

Best Paper Award

— 2016 —  

So sit back, grab some popcorn (and perhaps a beverage of your choosing), and enjoy the festivities.


With the Full Red Carpet Treatment. Of course, on such a celebratory occasion, we must roll out a luxuriant red promenade.

For a fleeting moment, we even considered a military parade for this inaugural occasion. But budgets being what they are, the best we could afford turned out to be a brigade of “Reviewer 2’s” armed with sharp red pens. To be brutally honest we feared this would not go over well, to say the least, and so all such plans were scrapped forthwith.

And with the reality of the publishing industry (as of early 2017) being what it is, our “red” carpet, I am afraid, must be printed solely in black and white.

Furthermore, rather than a plush walkway, the substrate upon which we must strut our stuff is much more akin to recycled newsprint.

But what a venue it is!

Okay, enough fun for now.

So let me set the stage for the award, and in so doing, switch to what my wife calls, my serious voice…

Because it takes incredibly hard work to get into TOCHI, and many notable HCI researchers have published their work in our pages. Even more important, I think, is the wave of up-and-comers in the field who are constantly breaking new ground. We are honored to have played a small role in building their careers, and publication credentials, as well.

TOCHI plays a vital role in the HCI community because it offers a forum for results that sprawl beyond the tidy boxes, tied up with neat satin bows, that can sometimes come to dominate typical conference papers. I’ve certainly written my fair share of those (only without the neatness, and often with some loose ends in those bows as well…). And of course there is nothing wrong with the “typical” conference-paper type of contribution, but by the same token it’s really important that the field has venues for results that are “out of the box” in a sense—and indeed, that span multiple boxes in the form of cross-discipline work, as well.

In that regard, the article we’ve selected for our 2016 Best Paper award is a great representative of the field. It reports on an interdisciplinary effort that advances the needs of a particular user community, but in so doing pushes on boundaries of interaction design and computer science as well. In order to build the system the authors embarked upon, the research had to upend some conventional wisdom regarding image navigation and innovate new interaction techniques along the way.

So (drum roll please), without further ado…


The recipient of the 2016 TOCHI Best Paper Award is:


The Design and Evaluation of

Interfaces for Navigating Gigapixel Images

in Digital Pathology


Roy A. Ruddle             School of Computing, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Rhys G. Thomas          School of Computing, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Rebecca Randell         School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, UK

Philip Quirke               Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, University of Leeds, UK

Darren Treanor           St James’ University Hospital, Leeds, UK, and
Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, University of Leeds, UK


ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Volume 23, No. 1, Article 5 (February 2015): 29 pages.

For this fine accomplishment, each of the authors will receive a physical manifestation of the award, which looks something like the following:

 Plaque for the inaugural TOCHI Best Paper Award, 2016

And just to pique your interest in this fine work just a bit further, the following abstract characterizes the work in the authors’ own words:

 This article describes the design and evaluation of two generations of an interface for navigating datasets of gigapixel images that pathologists use to diagnose cancer.

The interface design is innovative because users panned with an overview:detail view scale difference that was up to 57 times larger than established guidelines, and 1 million pixel “thumbnail” overviews that leveraged the real estate of high-resolution workstation displays.

The research involved experts performing real work (pathologists diagnosing cancer), using datasets that were up to 3,150 times larger than those used in previous studies that involved navigating images. The evaluation provides evidence about the effectiveness of the interfaces and characterizes how experts navigate gigapixel images when performing real work. Similar interfaces could be adopted in applications that use other types of high-resolution images (e.g., remote sensing or high-throughput microscopy).

Check it out. You’ll be glad you did. By the time you read this, the article should be available in the ACM Digital Library for open-access—sporting a spiffy new award badge no less—at:

The Editor’s Spotlight: Navigating Giga-pixel Images in Digital Pathology

For the first article to highlight in the freshly-conceived Editor’s Spotlight, from TOCHI Issue 23:1 I selected a piece of work that strongly reminded me of the context of some of my own graduate research, which took place embedded in a neurosurgery department. In my case, our research team (consisting of both physicians and computer scientists) sought to improve the care of patients who were often referred to the university hospital with debilitating neurological conditions and extremely grave diagnoses.

When really strong human-computer interaction research collides with real-world problems like this, in my experience compelling clinical impact and rigorous research results are always hard-won but in the end they are well worth the above-and-beyond efforts required to make such interdisciplinary collaborations fly.

And the following TOCHI Editor’s Spotlight paper, in my opinion, is an outstanding example of such a contribution.


Navigating Giga-pixel Images in Digital Pathology

The diagnosis of cancer is serious business, yet in routine clinical practice pathologists still work on microscopes, with physical slides, because digital pathology runs up against many barriers—not the least of which are the navigational challenges raised by panning and zooming through huge (and I mean huge) image datasets on the order of multiple gigapixels. And that’s just for a single slide.

Few illustrations grace the article, but those that do—

They stop the reader cold.

Extract from a GI biopsy, showing malignant tissue at 400x magnification. (Fig. 3)

The ruddy and well-formed cells of healthy tissue from a GI biopsy slowly give way to an ill-defined frontier of pathology, an ever-expanding redoubt for the malignant tissue lurking deep within. One cannot help but be struck by the subtext that these images represent the lives of patients that face a dire health crisis.

Only by finding, comparing, and contrasting this tissue to other cross-sections and slides—scanned at 400x magnification and a startling 100,000 dots per inch—can the pathologist arrive at a correct and accurate diagnosis as to the type and extent of the malignancy.

This article stands out because it puts into practice—and challenges—accepted design principles for the navigation of such gigapixel images, against the backdrop of real work by medical experts.

These are not laboratory studies that strive for some artificial measure of “ecological validity”—no, here the analyses take place in the context of the real work of pathologists (using archival cases) and yet the experimental evaluations are still rigorous and insightful. There is absolutely no question of validity and the stakes are clearly very high.

While the article focuses on digital pathology, the insights and perspectives it raises (not to mention the interesting image navigation and comparison tasks motivated by clinical needs) should inform, direct, and inspire many other efforts to improve interfaces for navigation through large visualizations and scientific data-sets.


Roy Ruddle, Thomas Rhys, Rebecca Randell, Phil Quirke, and Darren Treanor. 2016. The Design and Evaluation of Interfaces for Navigating Gigapixel Images in Digital Pathology. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 23, 1, Article 5 (February 2015), 29 pages. DOI=