Recent Travels – CHI 2010

Last week, I attended the Computer Human Interaction (CHI 2010) conference in Atlanta, GA. For those who don’t follow the Human-Computer Interaction community, this conference showcases the best research done in how users can interact, control and manipulate the information presented by computers. In all, the topics presented by each paper were vast and varied. Unfortunately, there was no way I could partake in all the papers and courses presented. As such, I wish to share my highlights of CHI2010:

Let’s Go from the Whiteboard: Supporting Transitions in Work through Whiteboard Capture and Reuse

This paper was presented by Stacy Branham from Virginia Tech. It’s a system that not only captured the contents you write on the whiteboard, but also allows you to share, reuse, tag, and remotely access this information. You can see ReBoard in action at this link . One of the main problems that ReBoard addresses is that the information written on whiteboards tends to be ephemeral or, worse, fixed in concrete lest we ever forget that spark of inspiration, effectively blocking that space on the whiteboard from ever being used. By transferring the contents of the whiteboard to other mediums like the web (and even Chumby’s) and, more importantly, allowing for that information to be tagged and searched, it allows for that information to exist beyond the whiteboard in ways that are useful to the user.

Deception and Magic in Collaborative Interaction

This paper was presented by Joe Marshall from the University of Nottingham. His paper showed how augmented reality and the magic of deception can be used to enhance the user experience and extend traditional HCI techniques. A brief demo video of the application he developed can be seen here. Aside from the fact that I love magic, I  agree wholeheartedly that the art of magic has a lot to offer the HCI community. Given that most user dynamics with a computer are built upon an inherent layer of trust, it is quite interesting to explore how this level of trust can be improved and, at times, manipulated by the machine.

Another reason why I love this presentation was because it had, in my opinion, the best slide one can expect from in any conference:

Demos and exhibits

The CHI conference grants the HCI community with the opportunity to see some of the best HCI products and research that the community has to offer. Though I was not able to see all of the exhibits, from the ones I saw these were, in my opinion, the best.


The team at Microsoft Research, headed by Andy Wilson and Hrvoje Benko demoed their Pinch-the-sky dome. This video does a far better job at explaining its function than I could. I should note that Hrvoje Benko is an alumna of the Computer Graphics and User Interface lab at Columbia University!


The individuals at Aldebaran Robotics, based in France, showcased their Nao robots. When I first saw him, I immediately thought of Mega Man, the 80s video game character. Here are some of the pictures of Nao in action

The Nao Robot You wouldn't like him when he's angry

ARDomino game

Last, but certainly not least, we have the ARDomino game that the Computer Graphics and User Interfaces laboratory at Columbia University demoed at CHI2010. The object of the game is simple: Shoot all of your colored dominoes out of the table. The trick is that the dominoes are only visible through the game display. I’ve made a quick edit of some people playing the ARDomino game.

ARDomino Game demonstrated at CHI2010 from Nicolas Dedual on Vimeo.

CHI2010 was an amazing experience that this brief blog post cannot begin to summarize. If you ever get an opportunity to simply attend, I highly recommend it. You’ll then be able to see (and hopefully meet) those who are shaping the future of computing.