Notes from Washington Area CTO Summit

The Washington Area CTO Roundtable held their bi-annual Summit last night. BoxTone was a sponsor, and Alan, our CEO, invited me along because the topic was recent research in Human Computer Interaction. It was a nice event with about 120 attendees held at the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon. I took notes, and I’ve included them here. I’ll be headed to the HCIL Symposium next week, so this was a nice little segway into that experience.

Ben Schneiderman
HCIL, University of Maryland
- “My job is to convince you to turn your company into a user experience company.”
- “Measure our success not by how many gigabytes but how good an experience.”
- iPhone: slide to unlock, keyboard, slide and hold to see foreign words; developed at HCIL
- highlighted hyperlink: developed at HCIL
- science based evaluation of user experience
- “Require your staff to make a guidelines document.”
- helped Citi develop 300 page guidelines in the early days; ATMs used twice as much as any other in the city
- Education, Enforcement, Exemption, and Enhancement
- Info Vis -> Visual Analytics; Illuminating the Path (large PDF) and Visual Analytics; free online books
- Spotfire was a university-based startup; main success in pharmaceutical drug discovery
- many people around multiple screens; 10-100 million pixels at a time; cool pictures of operations centers with lots of screens
- one person, small screen
- information seeking mantra: overview, zoom & filter, details-on-demand
- scientific vis: 1, 2, and 3D; info vis: multi-variate, temporal, tree, network
- demo of original LifeLines, LifeLines2, EventFlow (supported by Oracle Health Sciences), TreeMap, NodeXL (managed by the Social Media Research Foundation)
- “I like lots of information. Lots of information in a compact space in a meaningful way.”
- “If a picture is worth 1,000 words, an interface is worth 1,000 pictures.”
- “If you have event correlated data, let’s talk. We can work with it.”
- NYTimes is a leader in presenting information; infographics
- innovation in PA: two guys in pharmaceutical, Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, Navy in Philly
- UN millennium development goals: good requirements for the goals of humanist design, to make the world a better place
- question: immersive/virtual environments? important, but small; very interesting; people prefer to “look at” rather that “be in”

David Chavez
HCI in zSpace – Very Old and Very New
- immersive VR first in 1968, Ivan Sutherland
- zSpace System – desktop direct interaction with 3D simulations in open space; 3D glasses plus head position plus stylus
- video of people manipulating and reacting as if in real space; startled by virtual objects; video shows representation of the 3D object in space that the people were experiencing
- 2 eyes essential for spatial cognition; larger brains for animals that live in complex spatial environments
- as humans, our life is spatial until we get to work and then sit in front of a flat screen
- poor 3D quality makes for bad experience; it’s got to be good enough that normal people have a good experience to be worth it
- zSpace: good display, head tracking, direct interaction; baseline good experience
- how should the 3D interaction be done? lots of work, no agreement
- how good can it be? virtual/simulation, cloud resources, collaboration, human spatial cognition, how people interact, discover, and learn
- intuitive vs. expert: how intuitive does it need to be?
- zSpace looking ahead: increasing resolution, better interactions, app dev tools; go beyond the baseline good experience
- zCon 2013: 350 developers at first conference
- immediate applications

Dan Simpkins
Hillcrest Labs – Attention Couch Potatoes: Motion Makes It Easier
- sensors are ubiquitous in our technology now; MEMS motion sensors
- almost 10 years ago: 3D motion-based TV control (iTV)
- control loop: product (speaker, display, software, mic, control device) interacts with physical human (auditory input, visual input, voice input, motion input) and the mental human (long term memory, cognitive processor, working memory, auditory processor, visual processor, ocular motion processor, visual motor processor, tactile processor, manual motor processor)
- 20Hz (50ms) is minimum speed to experience continuous motion
- many types of motion: natural motion, pointing/cursor control, virtual controls, gestures
- gestures are only a small subset of natural motions, and all gestures aren’t that natural
- a system must reproduce natural motion in exact detail; otherwise individuals’ actions can’t be distinguished
- humans learn to point before we learn to speak; pointing to make selections; e.g. the mouse
- our digits are good at manipulating buttons and knobs; coarse and fine manipulations; digital screens can emulate those kind of manipulations
- gestures are verbs; individual nuances not relevant; specific gestures lead to a specific interpretation
- critical system design factors: sensor performance (low cost sensors have many impairments; drift, sensitivity, non-linearity, aging), system responsiveness (latency, wake-up time, gain settings), user control (motor capabilities and impairments; accuracy, orientation free, tremor), cost (materials, integration, support)
- Fitt’s law: originally designed for manufacturing line performance; accuracy is better for larger targets at smaller distance; what’s the effective throughput in these systems?
- our systems compensate for human tremor within the 50ms boundary, so cursor can be rock-steady
- example product using Hillcrest technology: LG 2013 Smart TV; 4th generation available shortly; remote has a gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer (all 3 axis)
- TUI = television UI
- gyroscope measures rotational motion; accelerometer measures relative orientation; magnetometer measures absolution orientation in space
- lots of discount usability testing; elderly tests (successful, all held it like a remote, but people leaned forward; not what you want to do with the TV), children (successful, kids held it in all kinds of orientations)
- Hillcrest has a software product, a motion engine, that processes the inputs from the sensors and makes the results to the software
- the future: MEMS sensors will transform all types of products; there are many challenges to adding motion and environment sensors; designers must address the full system problem

QA session
- co-creation in design? didn’t cover it; Ben: didn’t cover it, but users and social co-creation very important to understand and exploit
- what applications for zSpace? Dave: coming quickly; medical education (replace or augment cadaver labs), protein research for pharma
- what’s the tipping point to get to mass adoption? Dave: great question; as a 65 person startup, we’re really looking for that; Ben: people will find a hundred little applications for these things, maybe someone will discover 100 big applications; FitBit auto uploads its data when close to the laptop and reminds me via email when the battery is running out
- anything your API can’t do that people are asking for? infinite requests; Dan: measuring linear motion is very difficult, beyond state of the art for inexpensive solutions; e.g. handwriting recognition, absolute vs. relative positioning; can the device figure out who is using it by their idiosyncratic usage?
- are you looking at multiple motion inputs, like a pinch? Dan: mapped touch gestures into virtual control manipulations
- what about voice interaction? Dan: complementary, use the right tool for the job; voice is great for quick search, text entry, or narrowing focus; many times you don’t want to talk to your TV; what is a human willing to talk to? if it is human-like, it is comfortable (e.g. Siri, “an attractive woman, at least she sounds like it”) “I can be sexist here. Not many women. Just kidding. At least it got a laugh.”; would you ask your remote for adult content? Ben: voice is interesting technology, but has limited use; vocalizing interrupts cognitive flow; Air Force has spent 30 years and billions of dollars trying to find a use for voice control, with no real success; Dan: trade-off between ease of use and efficiency; find the balance
- how many discrete items can be on a tree map? how do you surface up the critical piece of data? Ben: I showed you a million, but you then filter and zoom in; multiple visualizations and interaction to represent in many ways
- want are the grand challenges of getting from here to the grand “Matrix“? Dan: ecosystem where these come into play are complex; e.g. proliferation of remote controls, manufacturers don’t want to give up control; Ben: how do we really go social? we constantly underestimate how much people want to go social; e.g. remarkable success of wikipedia, how do we replicate in other important areas that are good for the world; motivate, reward, and recognize; Dave: it’s not so far away; not necessarily the Matrix where you can’t tell real from virtual; but having combined real and virtual experiences in an comfortable way is very close

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One Response to Notes from Washington Area CTO Summit

  1. Pingback: Raw Notes from 30th Annual HCIL Symposium | Jarrett Interaction Design

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