The Center for Human-Computer Interaction is an interdisciplinary research center jointly sponsored by the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology; and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech.

Research Highlights 2018

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Research Highlights 2017

Kurt Luther received NSF CAREER award for expert-led crowdsourcing research


Assistant professor of computer science and CHCI member Kurt Luther has been recognized by the National Science Foundation with a Faculty Early Career Development Award to study and improve the capabilities of crowdsourced investigations. Luther will use an innovative expert-led crowdsourcing approach to collect data using a platform called CrowdSleuth. The software will assist collaboration between crowds and experts, such as journalists, historians, and law enforcement, as they attempt to discover new information and verify details of investigations. More information can be found on this VT News article.

Research Highlights 2016

NSF Award on Global Event and Trend Archive Research (GETAR)


NSF III: Small Collaborative: Global Event and Trend Archive Research (GETAR)
Edward A. Fox (PI), Andrea Kavanaugh (co-PI), Donald Shoemaker (co-PI, Sociology), Chandan Reddy (co-PI, CS NOVA), and Jefferson Bailey (Collaborative Research co-PI at Internet Archive)

The GETAR project will devise interactive, integrated, digital library/archive systems coupled with linked and expert-curated webpage/tweet collections, covering key parts of the 1997-2020 timeframe, in collaboration with the Internet Archive (IA) and colleagues from diverse disciplines. Supporting research on urgent global challenge events and initiatives, the project will allow diverse stakeholder communities to interactively collect, organize, browse, visualize, study, analyze, summarize, and explore content and sources related to biodiversity, climate change, crises, disasters, elections, energy policy, environmental policy/planning, geospatial information, green engineering, human rights, inequality, migrations, nuclear power, population growth, resiliency, shootings, sustainability, violence, etc. GETAR will leverage VT research on Web archiving, HCI, digital libraries, information retrieval, machine learning, discovery analytics, and natural language processing. Those interested in participating are invited to contact any of the co-PIs. For more information see here.

Kurt Luther and T.M. Murali (PIs) receive NIH Award


The project titled "Using Crowdsourced Design to Visualize Effects of Environmental Chemicals on Signaling Networks" was awarded $ 600,000 over two years. This research involves the development of a web-based system called GraphSpace to enable citizen scientists and non-experts to improve visual representations of processes within the cell that are affected by environmental chemicals. GraphSpace will assist molecular biologists and toxicologists in discovering hypotheses about how these chemicals may harm human health. This grant is also a collaboration with Zooniverse, the largest online citizen science portal. Check out the NIH project information.

CHCI research presented at IDC 2016 in Manchester, UK


CHCI research by PhD student Panagiotis Apostolellis and Professor Doug Bowman was presented at the 15th international ACM SIGCHI conference on Interaction Design and Children in Manchester, UK (21-24 June 2016). Panagiotis' research investigates effective ways of involving young audiences with digital games and virtual environments during group visits in informal learning contexts, such as museums and science centers. This work, which is part of his doctoral dissertation, was featured during the conference dinner inside the Imperial War Museum of Manchester. More information about Panagiotis research can be found on his personal website.

CHCI's presence at CHI'16 conference in San Jose


CHCI had quite a prominent presence in the Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) conference in San Jose, CA. This was the largest CHI conference so far, with 3,876 attendees and 20 tracks of technical program. CHCI faculty and students participated in Workshops, the Student Research Competition, and the Video Showcase. More specifically the entries were:

Research Highlights 2015

CHCI faculty receive Microsoft HoloLens Academic Research Grant Award


Virginia Tech was one of five institutions nationwide to receive the Microsoft HoloLens Academic Research Grant Award, including $100,000 and two Hololens Development Edition devices. The winning submission, titled "Collaborative Analysis of Large-scale Mixed Reality Data" was awarded to PI Joseph Gabbard (an Associate Professor of Human Factors, ISE @ VT) and Co-PI Doug Bowman (Professor of CS), with support from several faculty in the Center for Human-Computer Interaction's 3DExperiences group.

Housed within the Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology, the Center for HCI's 3DExperiences Group is one of the largest interdisciplinary AR/VR groups in the world, consisting of faculty from computer science, human factors, psychology, visual arts, communications, geography, engineering and education.

The funded research will investigate multi-user visualization of, and interaction with, big datasets in collaborative mixed reality environments. The research is inspired by large physical spaces (e.g., museums) that allow users to stand around large objects in expansive spaces, each with individual points of view, but with common ground and the ability to understand what others are looking at and talking about. Using the ICAT Cube, the researchers will develop tools allowing users wearing HoloLens devices to explore and analyze large-scale meteorological datasets, representative of big data, to examine core user interaction issues in multi-user collaborative settings.

Check out the official announcement from Microsoft here.

In response to the news, PI Gabbard noted that, "We are honored to have received this award and level of recognition. Indeed, given the highly competitive field, this award suggests to me that Microsoft acknowledges Virginia Tech's world-class faculty, research and facilities in the areas of Augmented and Mixed Reality. We've worked hard to establish ourselves in this area, and are excited to partner with Microsoft to further our collective knowledge."

CHCI 20-year Anniversary celebration was a huge success


Students, faculty and guests celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Center for Human Computer Interaction (CHCI) at Virginia Tech on October 16, 2015. The event featured panel discussions, demonstrations, tours and networking opportunities. Special guests included John Carroll (Founding Director and Professor at Penn State University), Doug A. Bowman (Current CHCI Director and Professor at Virginia Tech), and Marybeth Rosson (Founding Member and Professor at Penn State University). HCI research at VT has an even deeper history, starting in 1979, with the pioneering work of VT faculty Rex Harrison and Roger Ehrich in Computer Science and Bob Williges in Industrial and Systems Engineering. More information and pictures on the Computer Science Blog.

Celebrating 20 Years of HCI Research


CHCI will celebrate 20 years of HCI research at Virginia Tech with a day of panel discussions and demonstrations. Join us for the CHCI/ICAT Playdate (9:30-10 am) plenary panel on "20 Years of HCI Research" in the Fife Theatre of the Moss Arts Center, followed by demonstrations and posters in the Moss Arts Lobby (10 am - 12noon). Afternoon panels and informal discussion sessions include "The Next 20 Years of HCI Research", "HCI Education and Skills for the Future" and informal discussion sessions.

Dr. Kurt Luther (PI) and Dr. Chris North (Co-PI) receive NSF Award


The title of the proposal is "Supporting Crowdsourced Sensemaking in Big Data with Dynamic Context Slices" and it was awarded $ 500,000 over three years. This research will investigate how crowdsourcing and computational techniques can be combined to support the efforts of an individual analyst engaged in a complex sensemaking task, such as identifying a threat to national security or determining the names of people and places in a photograph. Check out the NSF Award Abstract.

Dr. Kurt Luther receives grant from National Archives


CS Professor and CHCI member Kurt Luther's National Archives grant proposal has been accepted. This project is through the NHPRC's "Literacy and Engagement with Historical Records" program and entitled "Mapping the Fourth of July in the American Civil War Era: A Crowdsourced Digital Archive". Kurt, along with colleagues from across campus, will use a variety of primary sources to build a website through which college and high school students, Civil War enthusiasts, and the general public can analyze and discuss how different regions celebrated the Fourth of July during the Civil War. Read the full press release on the Virginia Tech News.

The Cube featured in 'The Verge'


The New York based, online technology magazine "The Verge" recently published an article highlighting the Cube facility in the Moss Arts Center. The Cube is a research lab and performance space jointly administered by ICAT and the Center for the Arts. ICAT and CHCI have been using the facility for virtual reality, visualization, and sonification research. CHCI faculty and students presented the FutureHaus, using tracked tablets inside the Cube, and a crowd simulation inside Lane Stadium, using the Oculus Rift. Read the full Verge article, and see the accompanying video shot in the Cube, here.

TaskAmbient: an ambient information display system


TaskAmbient, designed by CHCI/Computer Science graduate student Sheriff Jolaoso, is an ambient information display system that provides a visualization overview of a user's to-dos. TaskAmbient has the ability to source to-dos from to-do applications and calendar applications. This tool has been designed to aid users in retaining information about their day-to-day to-dos from their calendar and to-do applications. It also provides a glanceable overview of tasks in a user's various areas of responsibility.

Research Highlights 2014

Congratulations to Ben Hanrahan for his dissertation defense


Ben Hanrahan successfully defended his dissertation, which investigated the effects of email features on users lives, particularly how users attend to email and get lost within it. The balance between promptly responding to emails while trying to limit engagement with the technology, were among his most important findings about the social problems of our interactions with email.

Title: Getting Lost in Email: How and Why Users Spend More Time in Email than Intended.

PhD Committee:
Manuel A. Perez-Quinones (Advisor)
Deborah Tatar (CS)
Andrea L. Kavanaugh (CS)
Carlos Evia Puerto (English)
Gregorio Convertino (Informatica Corporation)

Email has become deeply embedded in many users' daily lives. To investigate how email features in users lives, particularly how users attend to email and get lost within it, I ran a series of studies that probed how users determine relevancy of messages, logged interactions with email, gathered diary entries related to individual sessions, and investigated the gratifications sought from email use. In my studies I found that the majority of attentional effort is around reading email and participating in conversations, as opposed to email management. I also found that participants attended to email primarily based on notifications, instead of the number of unread messages in their inbox. I present my results through answering several research questions, and leverage Conversational Analysis (CA), particularly conversational openings, to explicate several problematic aspects around email use. My findings point to inefficiencies in email as a communication medium, mainly, around how summons are (or are not) issued. This results in an increased burden on email users to maintain engagement and determine (or construct) the appropriate moment for interruption.

My findings have several implications: email triage does not seem to be problematic for the participants of my studies, somewhat in contrast to previous research; much of the problem around email, particularly getting lost in email is in managing the tension between promptly responding to messages while limiting engagement with email; due to the social nature of the problems with email, modifications to the email client are limited in their potential effectiveness to prevent getting lost and reduce email related anxiety.

Dr. Nicholas Polys attended the White House Maker Faire


Dr. Nicholas Polys, Web3D Consortium President and Professor at Virginia Tech was invited this Summer to the first-ever White House Maker Faire. This honor comes as a direct result of his work for open web standards and 3D data durability. Specifically, as an Advisory Board Member for the NIH 3D Print Exchange where X3D, X3DOM and VRML are key technologies. More information here.

PhD student Ji Wang co-authors CHI paper


The paper titled "Towards Crowd-based Customer Service: A Mixed-Initiative Tool for Managing Q&A Sites" with co-authors Tiziano Piccardi (Xerox Research Center Europe), Gregorio Convertino (Informatica Corporation, US), Massimo Zancanaro (FBK, Italy), Cedric Archambeau (Amazon Inc., Germany) was the result of an interdisciplinary project Ji Wang participated at during his internship at Xerox Research in France, last Summer.

Abstract: In this paper, we propose a mixed-initiative approach to integrate a Q&A site based on a crowd of volunteers with a standard operator-based help desk, ensuring quality of customer service. Q&A sites have emerged as an efficient way to address questions in various domains by leveraging crowd knowledge. However, they lack sufficient reliability to be the sole basis of customer service applications. We built a proof-of-concept mixed-initiative tool that helps a crowd-manager to decide if a question will get a satisfactory and timely answer by the crowd or if it should be redirected to a dedicated operator. A user experiment found that our tool reduced the participants' cognitive load and improved their performance, in terms of their precision and recall. In particular, those with higher performance benefited more than those with lower performance.

G.A.M.E.R. Lab working with VT 'Scieneering' initiative


The Virginia Tech Gaming and Media Effects Research Laboratory (VT G.A.M.E.R. Lab), a small social-science research facility in the Department of Communication directed by CHCI affiliate James D. Ivory, is benefiting from multiple undergraduate research programs on campus that provide the facility with talented and hard-working research associates and allow a series of ongoing programmatic research projects to continue. Virginia Tech's "Scieneering" initiative, fostering interdisciplinary experiences in science and engineering, has supported some students to work at the G.A.M.E.R. Lab, as has a "Hands On, Minds On" Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer program sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Research Highlights 2013

DARPA Robotics Challenge Team ViGIR


CHCI members are collaborating with TORC Robotics and TU Darmstadt to participate in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a competition designed to accelerate innovation in humanoid robotics. Teams must use semi-autonomous robots to complete tasks in simulated disaster scenarios under time and bandwidth constraints. CHCI researchers are designing the human operator interface to enable collaboration between the operator and the robot.

Virtual Town Square


The Virtual Town Square aggregates and leverages news articles and social software together with network analysis and data mining to harness and model local online resources and social interactions to support and foster broader and more diverse civic participation in America's communities.

Fluid 960 Grid System, created by Stephen Bau, based on the 960 Grid System by Nathan Smith. Released under the GPL / MIT Licenses.