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Annual HCIL Symposium Highlights Latest in Technology Research & Innovation

June 1, 2015
Contacts: 

Tom Ventsias 301-405-5933

More than 200 attend 32nd annual event featuring wearable technology, data visualization and more 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – From wearable technology that teaches kids about human anatomy, to digital tools that let medical professionals quickly visualize electronic health records, the annual Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL) Symposium at the University of Maryland highlighted the latest in research, innovation and education related to how people interact with technology.

The 32nd annual event held last week was hosted by UMD's College of Information Studies (iSchool), the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS), and featured presentations, tutorials, and workshops for more than 200 attendees. 

June Ahn, iSchool and College of Education, will assume the role of director of HCIL on July 1. One of the workshops highlighted EventFlow, a unique application that helps users explore and analyze patterns-of-point and interval-based events from patient history records and other information sources. Developed by Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science, Ben Shneiderman, and HCIL Associate Director of Research, Catherine Plaisant, EventFlow offers a novel solution for displaying events, simplifying their visual impact, and making meaningful queries.

“We’ve made great strides in the past year to improve EventFlow to meet the diverse needs that emerged from 18 case studies,” says Shneiderman, who was the founding director of HCIL from 1983 to 2000.

Studying event sequences has been very difficult until now, Shneiderman adds, but EventFlow has opened up vast possibilities for research in medical histories, cybersecurity, e-commerce customer histories, and social media logs.

In one of the symposium’s plenary talks, Jon Froehlich, an assistant professor of computer science, discussed a series of wearable visualizations that include a “smart” jersey called Social Fabric Fitness for visualizing live fitness data, and a shirt called BodyVis aimed at helping children learn about their bodies and healthy living.

Niklas Elmqvist, iSchool and UMIACS, presents his research on visualization on devices other than a traditional desktop computer.

With BodyVis, students can discover their own anatomy through sensors and interactive displays that are attached to the clothing they wear, Froehlich says. For example, a life-sized pair of lungs on a shirt would light up to show how air flows in and out of a child’s lungs in tandem with their breathing.

Froehlich, the principal investigator on the project, is working with Tamara Clegg, an assistant professor in the College of Education and the iSchool, Leyla Norooz, a first-year doctoral student in the iSchool, and Seokbin Kang, a first-year doctoral student in computer science. 

In another plenary talk, Niklas Elmqvist, an associate professor in the iSchool and program director of the HCI Masters program, discussed his research on how people can make better use of the increasingly diverse ecosystem of digital devices that they carry with them.

This includes devices such as smartphones, Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens, and smart watches, as well as those devices that people are increasingly encountering in their                                                                          physical surroundings such as large displays, depth                                                                                cameras, and motion capture systems.

Elmqvist also highlighted several research projects he is collaborating on, including Proxemic Lenses, where movie industry motion capture equipment is used to fully track the location and posture of people in a 3-D space; QR-Vis, where QR-codes are used to let people download visualizations and data to their devices without the need for a network connection; and DataCube/SenseDesk, where an entire office cubicle becomes an intelligent sense-making environment.