CHI2015 highlights (updated)


This is some sort of log or diary of all the activities I attended during the Conference of Human Factors in Computing Systems–CHI2015 in Seoul, Korea. I also had the pleasure to present two papers, “An In-Situ Study of Mobile App & Mobile Search Interactions” (part of my PhD dissertation) and “To Call or to Recall? That’s the Research Question” (the result of my internship at Yahoo! in Summer 2014).

It was an incredible conference and it was a great opportunity to see old and new friends and colleagues.

(Texts in italics are my comments.)

Plenary – Prof. Lou Yongqi (Tongji University, Shangai)
I found it a little shallow, but anyways interesting.


During the coffee break I met with Haewoon Kwak, Karen Church and Martin Pielot, all former colleagues from Telefónica Research, and also with Jofish Kaye and Frank Bentley, from Yahoo! Labs.

(11:30 – 12:50)

Session: Improving Game Experiences

The Royal Corgi: Exploring Social Gaze Interaction for Immersive Gameplay (Melodie Vidal – Lancaster U)
A game exploring the use of (social) gaze-based interaction as input in games.
Participants described feeling more immersed in the game, and more prone to “play their role”, because of the response of characters to the gaze interaction. An interesting study with interesting results. I met Melodie Vidal before the session.

Session: What do I hear? Communicating with Sound

An Evaluation of Multidimensional Controllers for Sound Design Tasks (Robert Tubb – Queen Mary U)

Evaluated the use of discrete controls vs. 2D (touchpad) and 3D (Leap Motion) for sound design/synthesizer programming. Introduced the “Index of Search Space Reduction”, a variation of Fitt’s law to characterize search-based tasks with various degrees of freedom.

AnnoTone: Record-time Audio Watermarking for Context-aware Video Editing (Ryohei Suzuki – University of Tokyo)
A system that allows to embed metadata in the higher frequency spectrum of the audio channels of a video recording. These metadata is gathered by a smartphone, so it can contain data from several sensors.

Exploring Gesture Sonification to Support Reflective Craft Practice (Thomas Smith – Newcastle U)
Authors used data from IMUs in knitting needles to create a sonification and used it for providing feedback when training amateur knitters.


I had lunch with Nina Valkanova (Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, she was a former colleague from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Sandy Claes (Research[x]Design, KU Leuven), Prof. Wijnand Ijsselsteijn (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, a psychologist working on emotive computing), and others.

(14:30 – 15:50)

Session: Papers: Music & Art

Sculpting a Mobile Musical Soundtrack (Adrian Hazzard – The University of Nottingham)
Presented an app that provided an interactive soundtrack for visitors of a park. The soundtrack changes depending on the visitors’ position inside the park, and their proximity to landmarks/exhibitions.

Walking by Drawing (Daniela K Rosner – University of Washington)
Presented “Trace”, an app to allow the conversion of sketches into variable-length, walkable paths that can be sent to others.

(16:30 – 17:50)

Session: Makers & Hackers

Hybrid Practice in the Kalahari: Design Collaboration through Digital Tools and Hunter-Gatherer Craft (Jennifer Jacobs – MIT)
Described collaborative design activities with the Ju/’hoansi people in Namibia. By means of a cultural and knowledge exchange, they combined 3D printing with traditional craft practices.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Hackerspaces: Care Ethics and Cultures of Making (Austin L Toombs – Indiana U)
By means of ethnographic methods, the authors study the balance between libertarian culture and care in hacker spaces.

Patterns of Physical Design Remixing in Online Maker Communities (Lora Oehlberg – INRIA)
A study on the remixing culture in online making communities (Thingiverse).

(18:00 – 19:30)
Exhibit opening. There was also a nice exhibition of traditional Korean dance made by children. Very cute! Nice food, although I missed all the sushi. It was great to meet with friends and colleagues from Yahoo! and Barcelona, and to meet new people, including Henriette Cramer, Christian Holz and Frank Bentley (Yahoo! Labs) Peter Hamilton (U. Toronto, former fellow intern at Yahoo! Labs), Karen Church (my former supervisor at Yahoo! Labs) among others.

Night time:

It was nice to meet and say hello to Barry Brown (Mobile Life) who was launching his book “Enjoying Machines”, written with Oskar Juhlin, at a bar just in front of the COEX conference center.

Plenary – Donghoon Chang (Samsung)
I liked the beginning of the talk as Mr. Chang cited traditional Korean values and especially when he made a parallel between the attention to detail in preparation and serving of dished in traditional Korean cuisine, and attention to detail in UX design. However, Samsung’s video on future IoT technologies seemed to sweep everything away by presenting an artificial, cold and dehumanized panorama.

(09:30 – 10:50)
Session: Art & Life (Case studies)

Artistic Distance: Body Movements as Launching Points For Art (Kimiko Ryokai – UC Berkeley)
The authors studied the movement of novice and expert visitors to Ikebana flower arrangements and abstract paintings, and discussed implications for interaction design for embodied artistic appreciation.

TRANSFORM: Embodiment of “Radical Atoms” at Milano Design Week (Hiroshi Ishii – MIT Media Lab)
The authors tell about their experience with the exhibition of the Transform system in Milano. They explain the three programs or modes that were used during the exhibition and observe and discuss the reactions of visitors to them.

Moving on its Own: How do Audience Interacts with an Autonomous Moving Artwork (Elisabetta Zibetti – create, Université Paris 8)
The authors describe the reactions of the visitor of a exhibition consisting of three autonomously moving pianos. They analyze the visitors’ movement in the exhibition room, and cluster them with the aim to find common behaviors. Amongst other findings, they noted that while some visitors tend to have a more active attitude by following the pianos, some prefer to stay and watch from the borders of the room.

(11:30 – 12:50)

TUIkit: Evaluating Physical and Functional Experiences of Tangible User Interface Prototypes (Jorick Vissers – CUO , Social Spaces, KU Leuven, Belgium)

The authors presented a kit for formalizing the evaluation process of TUIs, leveraging the importance of the material and its impact on the user experience.

Lamello: Passive Acoustic Sensing for Tangible Input Components (Valkyrie Savage – Adobe Research)

Valkiria presented a clever and simple way to give 3D printed objects the possibility to generate control information by means of clickable tabs with different sound frequencies. Sounds can be captured by a microphone and converted into control data with specialized software. I loved the simplicity of this project (and the name of the presenter).

WonderLens: Optical Lenses and Mirrors for Tangible Interactions on Printed Paper (Rong-Hao Liang, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan)
The authors introduce the possibility to augment paper by means of optical widgets (lenses and mirrors) that take advantage of light deviation.

FugaciousFilm: Exploring Attentive Interaction with Ephemeral Material (Hyosun Kwon – University of Nottingham)
This shows how ephemeral interfaces can be created by augmenting soap films. Some interactions are presented and the interface is evaluated.

3D Printing Pneumatic Device Controls with Variable Activation Force Capabilities (Marynel Vázquez – Robotics Institute, CMU)
This paper describes the use of 3D printed pneumatic controls for providing input, actuation and haptic feedback. As Lamello, this is also amazingly simple and clever. I liked it. I met with Marynel Vásquez, a PhD student at CMU from Venezuela.

(14:30 – 15:50)
Session: Grip, Move & Tilt: Novel Interaction

Supporting Subtlety with Deceptive Devices and Illusory Interactions (Fraser Anderson – Autodesk)
2/3 of the presentation was a magic show. It was quite fun. The authors then very quickly presented their work. To be honest, I have to read the paper, the actual presentation was so short that I don’t remember well what was it about.

Understanding Users’ Touch Behavior on Large Mobile Touch-Screens and Assisted Targeting by Tilting Gesture (Youli Chang – Seoul National U) (*)
They propose the use of tilting to assist targeting on large-screen mobile devices. They present an evaluate several interaction techniques based on this premise.

One-Handed Bend Interactions with Deformable Smartphones (Audrey Girouard – Carleton U)
Audrey presented an evaluation of one-hand bend interaction techniques for deformable smartphones. It was also nice to meet Audrey.

Grip Change as an Information Side Channel for Mobile Touch Interaction (Matei Negulescu – U of British Columbia)
Similar to (*), but using grip change.

An Experimental Comparison of Vertical and Horizontal Dynamic Peephole Navigation (Jens Müller, HCI Group, Konstanz U)
Compares physical and cognitive loads of vertical vs. horizontal peephole navigation, and make recommendations on when to use each one based on results.

(16:30 – 17:50)
Session: Design and 3D Object Fabrication

Tactum: A Skin-Centric Approach to Digital Design and Fabrication (Madeline Gannon – CMU)
This project uses skin as a canvas for design of 3D printable, wearable objects. It uses projection mapping on the body to sketch and design the 3D models for later printing.

A Layered Fabric 3D Printer for Soft Interactive Objects (Huaishu Peng – Cornell U)
The authors describe a 3D printer that uses layers of fabric as fabrication material. The resulting objects are soft and flexible.

Platener: Low-Fidelity Fabrication of 3D Objects by Substituting 3D Print with Laser-Cut Plates (Dustin Beyer, Stefanie Mueller – Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam, Germany)
They presented a technique for decomposing 3D objects into flat surfaces that can be laser cut and combined in order to accelerate the prototyping process. Several combinations of 3D printing and laser cutting are described, with various levels of fidelity and structural strength of the final object, and different fabrication times.

D-Coil: A Hands-on Approach to Digital 3D Models Design (Huaishu Peng – Cornell U)
They present a modeling technique that consists in coiling threads of wax using a hand-held extruder, which is tracked in space to create the digital model. The design stage becomes more tangible (as compared to designing with a GHI). The wax model can be later discarded.

Night time:

I attended three receptions. The first was made by Georgia Tech, the second was the launch of the 4th edition of “Interaction design—beyond human-computer interaction” (written by Ivonne Rogers, Helen Sharp and Jenny Preece), and the third was a reception organized by Facebook. I attended them with Nina Valkanova and Wijnand Ijsselsteijn. At the Facebook reception I met with Giovanni M Troiano (U. Copenhagen), who is developing deformable interfaces for music performance.


I missed morning sessions while preparing my presentations. But for lunch I met some friends from Barcelona, including Rodrigo de Oliveira (Google), Mauro Cherubini (Google), Karen Church (Yahoo!), Martin Pielot (Telefónica Research), Nina Valkanova, Lilia Villafuerte and others.

(14:30 – 15:50)
Session: Understanding Everyday Use of Mobile Phones

Demand in My Pocket: Mobile Devices and the Data Connectivity Marshalled in Support of Everyday Practice (Carolynne Lord, Mike Hazas – Lancaster U)
An investigation into energy consumption of mobile phones.

An In-Situ Study of Mobile App & Mobile Search Interactions (Juan Pablo Carrascal – U Pompeu Fabra)
The authors investigate the interactions between mobile search, mobile app usage, triggers for search activity, and post-search actions. They discovered that search activity seems to elicit a higher amount of mobile app activity. They also provide qualitative insights on how task completion is important for users, as opposed to compartmentalized app/search launches.

The Composition and Use of Modern Mobile Phonebooks (Frank R Bentley – Yahoo!)
An interesting investigation on mobile phonebooks. Most intriguing result: we don’t know most people in our phonebook!

To Call or to Recall? That’s the Research Question (Juan Pablo Carrascal – U Pompeu Fabra)
A study on mobile phone users’ call annotation needs. The authors investigated annotation needs and artifacts, contribution of important information from both call parties, and dynamics of phone call annotation.


(16:30 – 17:50)
Session: Using Random Body Parts for Input

iSkin: Flexible, Stretchable and Visually Customizable On-Body Touch Sensors for Mobile Computing (Martin Weigel – Max Planck)
A technology to print wearable touch sensors. The coolest thing is the possibility to design sensors in any shape, allowing aesthetic exploration.

Cyclops: Wearable and Single-Piece Full-Body Gesture Input Devices (Liwei Chan, National Taiwan U)
A system for full body input based on a chest-mounted wide angle camera. The sensor moves with the user, as opposed to, e.g. a Kinect.

Bodyprint: Biometric User Identification on Mobile Devices Using the Capacitive Touchscreen to Scan Body Parts (Christian Holz – Yahoo!)
This system uses the full capacitive surface of a smartphone as a 2D sensor for capturing “earprints” for authentication purposes. A technical evaluation of the system was conducted.

NailO: Fingernails as an Input Surface (Hsin-Liu (Cindy) Kao – MIT Media Lab)
Uses a microcontroller based device to allow fingernails as input surfaces. In my opinion the prototype is still bulky, and does not actually offer an advantage from it being mounted on a fingernail. But maybe I’m missing something, reading the paper should clarify.

(09:30 – 10:50)
Course: Vision-Driven: Beyond Tangible Bits, Towards Radical Atoms
(Hiroshi Ishii, Daniel Leithinger, Sean Follmer, Lining Yao, Jifei Ou – MIT Media Lab)


This was more a showcase of projects of the MIT Tangible Media Group than a course. It was inspiring, however. I met Lining Yao, and asked her about the possibility of an eventual visit to the lab to know their projects first hand.

(11:30 – 12:50)
Session: Robot Personalities

Too Much Humanness for Human-Robot Interaction: Exposure to Highly Humanlike Robots Elicits Aversive Responding in Observers (Megan Strait – Tufts U)
An empirical study trying to prove the existence of the Uncanny Valley. Questions still arise, but yet interesting.

Look Like Me: Matching Robot Personality via Gaze to Increase Motivation (Sean Andrist – University of Wisconsin, Madison)
First, they provided a robot with extroverted and introverted qualities, by means of modeling how much time it looks at the eyes of a human. Then they try to understand which of the two personality traits matches with extroverted and introverted humans in robot to human training sessions, using an activity based on Hanoi’s towers.

The Social Impact of a Robot Co-Worker in Industrial Settings (Allison Sauppé – University of Wisconsin, Madison)
An ethnographic investigation on the impact of a new generation of robots—those who are not dangerous to work with syde-by-side—in industrial settings. They study three stakeholders, managers, maintenance staff and workers, and study how they establish social relationships with their fellow robot worker.



For lunch, I met with Carla Griggio and Germán Leiva (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm), two PhD students from Argentina, Nina Valkanova, Lilia Villafuerte and Sandy Claes. Initially I wanted to meet with some Latin-American attendees to discuss HCI research in our contries, but there was less people than expected. Also we found that most of the few Latin-American attendees were anyways studying or working in foreign countries, which suggest a scarcity of HCI research in the continent.

(14:30 – 15:50)
Session: Multi-Device Interaction

A Diary Study on Combining Multiple Information Devices in Everyday Activities and Tasks (Tero Jokela – Nokia Technologies)
The work was aimed at classifying multi-device use patterns during daily activities. It focused on the three main screens: mobiles, PCs and entertainment systems. They found that Sequential Use, Resource Lending, Related Parallel Use, and Unrelated Parallel Use are the main use patterns.

Closing Plenary – Psy
I never expected this plenary should be taken seriously. I hope nobody did. With that mindset, it was fun an entertaining. I liked Psy honesty about himself (“I’m not handsome / I’m just a chubby guy”), and about the difficulties to keep himself relevant and trying not to be a one hit wonder (“my worst mistake was to come up with that horse dance”, “I have to be funny without trying too hard”, “it’s very sad when somebody tries to be funny and isn’t”).
The introduction to CHI2016, with the glowsticks and Jofish Kaye’s and Allison Druin’s more or less successful attempts to create a coordinated interaction with the audience (, was very nice.

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