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.
DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2834117

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:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2834117

TOCHI Article Alert: Fall Prevention for Older Adults: Qualitative Results from a Long-Term Field Study

Falls are one of the chief causes of serious injury among older adults, often ultimately resulting in reduced quality of life and a transition away from independent living.

This work deploys a sensing system with an interesting set of exergames aimed at early intervention through improved physical fitness and regular assessment of the risk of falls. While many challenges were encountered in deploying the system, and the user population was necessarily limited to relatively able-bodied individuals due to ethical and safety concerns, a six-month deployment with older adults in their homes as well as in community-dwelling situations showed great promise in empowering individuals to monitor and control their own fitness, health, and fall risk. Making this an enjoyable and entertaining activity that older adults can weave into their daily routines could be instrumental in effecting long-term use with sustainable health benefits.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2967102).

TOCHI Article Alert: Applying the Norman 1986 User-Centered Model to Post-WIMP UIs

This work takes Norman’s classic notion of ‘cognitive engineering’ and updates it to the modern context of touch-based and tangible interfaces.

As the authors demonstrate for the particular case of a 3D object rotation task, Norman’s model still has a great deal of explanatory power for such a task and may continue to give insights into interaction methods and techniques that barely existed as research prototypes when his work was first conceived.

If indeed human beings think with their hands every bit as much (and perhaps even more so) than they do abstractly with reason, then perhaps in this era of the post-WIMP (Windows-Icons-Menus-Pointers) interface our tools for thought have come very far indeed.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2983531).

TOCHI Article Alert: Investigating Expressive Tactile Interaction Design in Artistic Graphical Representations

This article is a wonderful example of something that unfortunately we don’t see come through our submissions queue as often as I would like: namely, a design-research-centric TOCHI contribution.

In particular, this article explores how tactile feedback can be employed in a multisensory context to augment works of visual art. Here, the focus is not on metrics such as bandwidth and speed-accuracy tradeoffs—as are traditional concerns in the use of tactile feedback to augment pointing devices (for example)—but rather largely unexplored questions of expressiveness and new interaction potentials rise to the fore. The result, in addition to a richly illustrated contribution, is a set of affordances for expressive visuotactile interactions, as well as an intriguing design space for tactile augmentation that points the way to new user experiences.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2957756).

TOCHI Article Alert: HCI for Reconciling Everyday Food and Sustainability

This article is a moving example of how HCI has the potential to tackle some of the biggest problems facing the globe by framing these challenges as socio-technical design problems that must be met at the social, cultural, individual, and yes, technological levels.

At present most people’s food practices are mundane and often routine, but as particularly the ‘food pioneers’ probed by this study demonstrate, there are ample insights to be gained from existing practices that could inform the ‘user experience’ of obtaining and preparing sustainable food. And indeed, what ‘sustainable food’ itself entails is a complex interplay of ideas and concerns about what we eat and where it comes from. This is a complex design problem that encompasses everything from the in-store experience, packaging design, on-line shopping, social and family pressures, and awareness of the provenance of food, to name just a few issues unpacked by this far-ranging investigation.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2970817).

TOCHI Article Alert: Design of a GPS Monitoring System for Dementia Care and its Challenges in an Academia-Industry Project

In a research field that—despite our desire to focus on the humans involved—revolves around ‘computers’ and ‘technology’ as much as anything, technologically-minded researchers often take things like location-sensing via GPS tracking for granted.

Yet, as this article so poignantly illustrates, when one delves into what is actually needed to make that technology serve the needs of stake-holders ranging from nurses and caretakers, to the over-arching family-units and organizational structures—and (most critically) the patients themselves, where dementia often manifests in neuro-degenerative disorders that pose ever-shifting challenges for everyone involved—what seemingly should be a ‘simple’ step of location-tracking in the ‘turn to practice’ is fraught with technological, social, and ethical challenges.

Add to that the challenges of academia-industry collaboration mandated by funding structures, and the project-management issues become very complex indeed.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2963095).

The Editor’s Spotlight, Part 2 — TOCHI Issue 23:4 — Adding Physical Objects to an Interactive Game Improves Learning and Enjoyment

IN THE SPOTLIGHT, Part 2:

Adding Physical Objects to an Interactive Game Improves Learning and Enjoyment

This delightful contribution explores EarthShake, a mixed-reality game that helps children learn some basic principles of physics by bridging the physical and virtual worlds via depth-sensing cameras.

The work includes not only an interactive prototype that is put to the test by 4-8 year old children (a particularly demanding user demographic if ever there was one!), but also through careful experimental design that teases out many insights illustrating how and why the use of three-dimensional (3D) physical objects in mixed-reality environments can produce better learning and enjoyment than flat-screen 2D interaction.

Computer technologies can be especially empowering when brought to bear in the context of the physical environment. This has long been suspected as a benefit of so-called “tangible interfaces”—that is, interfaces employing physical stand-ins or props as proxies for digital objects—yet precisely how, or why, or under what circumstances tangibles might bring benefits has remained murky, particularly when combined with mixed-reality environments, i.e. sensing systems that detect the 3D world and incorporate it directly into the interactive experience. One can hypothesize many possible reasons that tangibles could be beneficial to learners in mixed-reality environments:

Is it the three-dimensional nature of the objects?

Do the potential benefits derive from making interaction more enjoyable?

Or perhaps it is the embedding in reality, and the sensory cues that the real world affords, that forms the critical difference—as compared to watching videos of the same activities, for example.

In addressing these questions, the carefully controlled studies isolate various possible effects and confounds, and thereby convincingly demonstrate many aspects of exactly how these mixed-reality environments benefit learners. The results demonstrate that learning benefits accrue through embodied cognition, improved mental visualization (as evidenced by children’s hand gestures, for example), and via the mere observation of physical phenomena in the full richness of sensory cues available in the real world—cues that are inherently absent when watching a video recording of the same activity on a flat, two-dimensional screen.

 

Nesra Yannier, Scott Hudson, Eliane Wiese, Ken Koedinger. 2016. Adding Physical Objects to an Interactive Game Improves Learning and Enjoyment. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 23, 4, Article 26 (August 2016), 33 pages.

DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2934668

 

Final Reminder: Re-imagining Participatory Design special issue deadline soon (Jan 2017!)

Our special issue on Re-imagining Participatory Design deadline is coming up very soon (we recommend sending your abstract to the special issue editors by Jan. 5 — see details at the link below.)

In case this opportunity has not yet caught your attention, here’s a little blurb for the special issue:

 

In recent years it seems Participatory Design has become synonymous with a more neutral form of ‘user-centered’ design, often merely aimed at a sort of token involvement of users in design, but in its deep roots—and hopefully in its re-imagined future to come—Participatory Design empowered intervention upon situations of conflict through developing more democratic processes.

Rather than a sort of corporate memo that has lost its verve by being xerox-copied one time too many in service of bland and generalized “information technology” needs, this Re-imagining encourages a return to Participatory Design’s vibrant roots in giving voice to oft-marginalized and under-represented classes of users.

With this perspective in mind, TOCHI extends an invitation for the community to think boldly about the future of participatory design.

To get involved, check out:

http://tochi.acm.org/re-imagining-participatory-design/

And we hope to see your submission in January 2017.

 

By |December 13th, 2016|Categories: 2017, Call for Papers, Special Issues|Tags: |0 Comments

The Editor’s Spotlight, Part 1 — TOCHI Issue 23:4 — Rituals of Letting Go: An Embodiment Perspective on Disposal Practices Informed by Grief Therapy

TOCHI Issue 23:4 is now available on the ACM Digital Library.

This month’s TOCHI has an unusually rich and far-ranging set of contributions, some of which forced me to confront deep personal truths (more about that shortly, in this post).

And while there were several articles that piqued my curiosity, two in particular caught my editorial eye. The first of these is featured below, the second will appear shortly in a follow-up post.

 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT, Part 1:

Rituals of Letting Go: An Embodiment Perspective on Disposal Practices Informed by Grief Therapy

This article offers a great example of the rich insights that can be unpacked by a thorough qualitative analysis of an HCI design context—in this case, the challenges of loss and grief that we all must eventually confront, and which therefore may be the essence of the human condition itself.

This unique problem takes on some strange twists in this modern era, when many of the “possessions” representative of our loved ones who have passed on assume an online and digital, rather than physical, form. How can one confront such an overwhelming task—going through thousands of digital photos, or blog posts, or a Facebook timeline which may not even be under your direct control—in such circumstances?

Furthermore, one might naturally assume that one always wants to retain such digital possessions, whereas the reality is much more complicated. Indeed, to move on, what many people need is in fact a therapeutic way of letting go—an end-goal spectacularly ill-suited to the inflexible, binary, and non-embodied methods that computers and web services currently offer us for deleting digital objects (or massive collections thereof).

And I have to admit, this article really hit home because it represents a very deep, dark hole that I have fallen into myself: Kerrie, my first spouse, died at the tender age of 29, just as I was embarking on my career at Microsoft Research. As I tried to put my life back together, one problem I had to confront was what to do with my wife’s greeting, which may have been the only recording I had of Kerrie’s voice, on our voice mail. While I will leave the solution that I came up with to the reader’s imagination, I can assure you that hitting some Delete button is about as far as you can get from a satisfactory solution to such a dilemma, and indeed there are no easy answers.

Because people flattened by such events (which the authors astutely expand to encompass related circumstances such as stillbirth, separation and divorce, as well as death itself) are in no condition to participate in some focus group or contextual inquiry, the article takes the clever indirection of working with professional grief therapists, all of whom helped clients to prepare “rituals of letting go” so as to move on with their lives—a new life that by necessity could no longer could include their loved one.

And indeed, the problems faced and the type of rituals enacted depend strongly on such circumstances, leading to a vocabulary of action and intent that the authors characterize in a rich design space. The work also suggests many new design directions and possibilities for HCI and sustainable, full life-cycle design to help people divest themselves of emotionally charged digital possessions.

To riff on the novel direction of release-centric interactions suggested by the article, imagine, for example, a digital-photo locket explicitly designed for letting-go such that each time you choose to open it, it displays a photo (or a voice message…) of a loved one for the very last time; when you decide to close it, an embodied act, the echoes of the emotionally-charged digital artifact would drift away on a chill wind and be gone forever, allowing the survivor—if only symbolically, and in a small way—to move on.

The article is rich with provocative examples, situations, and design questions of this sort, and reading it may very well forever change how you think about the design of photo repositories, voice messages, texts, and other such digital possessions.

 

Corina Sas, Steve Whittaker, and John Zimmerman. 2016. Rituals of Letting Go: An Embodiment Perspective on Disposal Practices Informed by Grief Therapy. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 23, 4, Article 21  (August 2016), 37 pages.

DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2926714

 

Updated Call-for-Papers: Re-imagining Participatory Design

[This special issue call is now closed to new submissions.]

 Schedule and Submission Details

Pre-Submission Abstract Due: Sept 15, 2016  Jan 5, 2017 (email to reimaginingpd@gmail.com)
Full Manuscript Submission deadline: Oct 05, 2016  Jan 23, 2017 (must submit to: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/tochi).

Author Notification (first round): Jan 10, 2017  April 27, 2017
Revisions due: March 1, 2017  June 27, 2017
Author Notification (second round):  May 10, 2017  Sept 20, 2017
Final revisions due: Aug 10, 2017  Oct 15, 2017
Special Issue Published: Late 2017 (estimated)  January 2018 (Vol 25, Issue 1)

 

Please refer to the full text of the call for details on submitting to this special issue.