Event Review: ACM CHI 2009

Event Review: ACM CHI 2009

Jörn Loviscach (Fachhochschule Bielefeld, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/jcicg.2010010101
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An annual and highly visible event of the HCI community, the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) demonstrated the state of the art and trends in user interface technology. Even though the April 2009 conference did not focus specifically on visual user interfaces, which form the focus of IJCICG, about two dozen of the contributions—ranging from posters to full papers—presented promising ideas or addressed vital but as yet mostly overlooked issues in graphicsbased interaction. This event review summarizes some of the most interesting of those aspects seen at CHI 2009, and provides a set of event-related references as context.
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Improved Tabletops

Owing to the current trend, the 2,410 participants of the Boston-based conference saw a plethora of tabletop visualization and interaction systems. Basic multi-touch technology was still a major presence—addressed very inexpensively and elegantly, for example, with printed force-sensitive resistors by Rosenberg et al. (2009). (see Figure 1)

Figure 1.

The Boston-based conference was attended by 2,410 participants.


Mainstream research, however, seems to have moved past the basic issues of sensing the fingertips of one or several users: Three contributions addressed how to provide more tangibility on the display surfaces. Koike et al. (2009) employed light polarization by half-wave plates to robustly detect pieces of seemingly transparent film on the table. In the concrete applications shown, these act, for instance, as image frames or as magic lenses. Weiss et al. (2009) augmented a table top display by transparent knobs, sliders, keys, and even a full typing keyboard. Harrison and Hudson (2009) create tangible buttons or dents on a display by inflating or exhausting a layer of transparent latex in front of a display screen.

A previously underexplored topic related to tabletops attracted two contributions: Vogel et al. (2009) looked into how to model the visual occlusion occurring through the user’s arm and hand when operating a pen. Their model consists of a circular disk representing the hand and a rectangle representing the arm. In a more practically-minded approach, Brandl et al. (2009) detected the position of the user’s hand in addition to the position of the pen’s tip. Based on these data, they displayed a radial menu around the pen that does not extend below the hand.


Video And Type

Moving type seems to be seeing a digital renaissance. Yeo and Hudson (2009) proposed to create an engine that specifically targets kinetic typography. A vital difference to standard 2D animation systems consists in the constraint-based arrangement of the texts. Tang et al. (2009) extended the known technique of video slicing, that is: picking the same pixel-wide column of all frames of a video and stacking these columns sideways to from a 2D image. They applied freely defined (that is: not necessarily vertical) slices can aid in finding changes and motion patterns.

Ma and Cook (2009) looked into the visualization of 48 common verbs through single images, series of four images, animations and videos. Not entirely surprising, they found that to communicate verbs, videos work best. However, using two different age groups of test participants—young adults as opposed to elderly adults—they found there is a detrimental effect of age that is as prominent as the effect of the media type.


Façades As Media

Seitinger et al. (2009) designed “urban pixels”, autonomous devices with a spherical shape of four inches diameter. Each of these spheres comprises a microcontroller, an infrared sensor, a radio transceiver, based battery-buffered photovoltaic cells for the power supply—and ten bright white light-emitting diodes. These “pixels” can easily be mounted flexibly in urban settings to form a low-resolution display to be controlled, for instance, through mobile phones.

Dalsgaard and Halskov (2009) equipped store windows with vertical strips of electrochromatic foil, which can be set electrically to an opaque and a transparent state. The main mode of interaction with potential shoppers is that the strips become transparent in front of a viewer, as sensed by a camera mounted several floors above, pointing downward. The installation, however, attracted far less viewers than were expected from lab tests. The authors suggest that this may be due to competing “loud visuals” used in the vicinity.

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