Past Events



Wednesday, October 10

Title: The Brain, Attention, and Reality Lab

Speaker: Alan Kingstone, Professor, Department of Psychology, UBC

Abstract: Human behaviours change with the context in which they are embedded. This fact allows us to control and experimentally manipulate human thoughts and actions.  It also presents a longstanding challenge: How can we take the resulting evidence derived from restrictive laboratory settings – where people are often required to behave as little as possible like human beings – and make statements about real life human nature? This talk presents my lab’s general solution to this problem, and provides some thumbnail examples of different research lines we are presently pursuing. 

Bio: Alan Kingstone is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at UBC. He also serves as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Advisor in the VPRI Office. Alan is PI of the Brain, Attention, and Reality Lab (Barlab). 

Wednesday, October 17

Title: Context-aware computing at the museum and beyond

Speaker: Joel Lanir, Department of Information Systems, University of Haifa (UBC CS Visiting Professor)

Abstract: Context aware systems and applications have become common in our daily lives. These programs and services react to the environment and adapt their behavior to anticipate users’ needs.  In order to understand the user’s context, different sensors placed in the environment, the user’s devices or on the users themselves are used, creating a ubiquitous computing environment. The museum is a perfect place to explore context-awareness as visitors are mobile, wishing to accept information about their surroundings, and are willing to experiment with novel technologies. In this talk, I will outline several studies that we conducted in a smart museum environment (and beyond) that examine various context-aware issues.

Bio: Joel Lanir is an assistant professor in the Information Systems department at the University of Haifa, Israel, where he leads the human-computer interaction lab. His research interests lie in the general area of human-computer interaction, and more specifically mobile and context-aware computing and the design and evaluation of novel technologies such as augmented reality, wearable computing and smart environments. Dr. Lanir received his PhD in computer science from the University of British Columbia in 2009. His research was supported by the European Union (FP7), Israel Science Foundation, Israel’s chief scientist (Magnet, Kamin) and more. Joel regularly publishes in top-tier HCI conferences and journals (CHI, CSCW, HCI journal, IJHCS) and has received the CHI best paper among other awards. Joel is currently a visiting professor at the UBC CS department.

Wednesday, October 24

Title: Understanding People and Designing Technology for Sustainable Development

Speaker: Dr. Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed, Assistant Professor, Computer Science at University of Toronto

Abstract:  The top Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations, including poverty alleviation, literacy, and gender equality, are closely tied to the problem of exclusion from core economic, social, and cultural infrastructures. As a potential tool for sustainable development, technology has the responsibility to make these infrastructures more inclusive. However, to date, many of the world’s biggest technological advances have primarily benefited only a small fraction of the developed world. The goal of my research is to leverage ethnographic methods to understand the underserved populations in low-income regions, and design and develop appropriate technologies to bring sustainable positive change in their lives.

In this talk, I will describe my general research approach that combines ethnography and design. I will focus on two projects to explain how understanding the communities through a deep ethnography can result in effective technologies. The first is “Suhrid”, an accessible mobile phone interface for a low-literate rickshaw driver community.  The second is “Protibadi”, a mobile phone application for women to combat public sexual harassment. Both projects will demonstrate a set of ethnographic tools and techniques for understanding different economic, social, and cultural values of a community and how those can play a crucial role in designing novel technologies. In addition, I will briefly discuss my ongoing work on privacy right, refugee problem, technology repair, and e-waste to show how ethnographic studies have opened up novel spaces for design and other creative interactions mediated by computing technologies. Through these projects, I will also explain how “voice”, which I defined by better access, visibility, and freedom, can empower marginalized communities combat the problem of exclusion, and contribute towards sustainable development.

Bio: Dr. Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at University of Toronto. He leads the “Third Space” research group there. He conducts research in the intersection between Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD). He received his PhD from Cornell University in 2017. His PhD research focused on the design challenges around ‘voice’ which he defines through access, autonomy, and accountability. Most of his early research was situated in Bangladesh and India, where he had conducted ethnography and design studies with many underprivileged communities including readymade garments factory workers, evicted slum dwellers, rickshaw drivers, mobile phone repairers, and victims of sexual harassment. His current work has expanded from there and is also addressing pressing concerns of marginalization in Iran, Turkey, China, Canada, and the US. His work is often motivated by postcolonial computing, infrastructural politics, feminist HCI, and subaltern studies.

Dr. Ahmed established the first HCI research lab in Bangladesh in 2009. He also launched the first open-source digital map-making initiative in Bangladesh in 2010. Very recently, he and his colleagues founded an “Innovation Lab” in Bangladesh to promote grass-root level innovation in the country. Dr. Ahmed received the prestigious International Fulbright Science and Technology Fellowship in 2011. He also received Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing graduate fellowship in 2015. Very recently, in 2018, he has been awarded the Connaught Early Researcher Award from the University of Toronto. He has also received multiple awards for his publications including a Best Paper award in ICTD and a Best Paper Honorable Mention Award in ACM CHI. Dr. Ahmed’s work has been supported by various national and international organizations including the National Science Foundation (NSF) of USA, National Institute of Health (NIH) of USA, Intel, Microsoft Research, IBM Research, Samsung Research, the World Bank, and National Institute of Mental Health of Bangladesh. His current research is being supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, and Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Tuesday, October 2 (2pm-3pm) – ADDITIONAL DFP TALK

Title: Recommender Systems:  Beyond Machine Learning

Speaker: Joseph A. Konstan, University of Minnesota

Abstract: Recommender systems help users find items of interest and help websites and marketers select items to promote.  Today’s recommender systems incorporate sophisticated technology to model user preferences, model item properties, and leverage the experiences of a large community of users in the service of better recommendations.  Yet all too often better recommendations–at least by traditional measures of accuracy and precision–fail to meet the goal of improving user experience.  This talk will take a look at successes and failures in moving beyond basic machine learning approaches to recommender systems to emphasize factors tied to user behavior and experience.  Along the way, we will explore a generalizable approach to combining human-centered evaluation with data mining and machine learning techniques.

Bio: Joseph A. Konstan is Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Distinguished University Teaching Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota.  His research addresses a variety of human-computer interaction issues, including personalization (particularly through recommender systems), eliciting on-line participation, and designing computer systems to improve public health. He is probably best known for his work in collaborative filtering recommenders (the GroupLens project, work which won the ACM Software Systems Award and Seoul Test of Time Award). Dr. Konstan received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993.  He is a Fellow of the ACM, IEEE, and AAAS, and a member of the CHI Academy.  Konstan is co-Chair of the ACM Publications Board, served as President of ACM SIGCHI and is a member of the ACM Council.

Wednesday, September 12

Title: Priming the brain to learn using robotics and stimulation

Speaker: Lara Boyd, PT, PhD, Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, UBC




Abstract: Recovery after stroke is slow and outcomes are highly variable.  In part this is because the dose of rehabilitation necessary is very large.  One approach to this problem is to pre-excite or prime the brain to learn using robotics or brain stimulation.  This talk will review both approaches and provide data to show how these technologies may be used to facilitate both brain activity and recovery of function after stroke.

Bio: Dr. Lara Boyd is the Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Motor Learning, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Career Investigator, a Peter Wall Scholar, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, at the University of British Columbia.  She is a Neuroscientist and Physical Therapist. Dr. Boyd directs the Brain Behaviour Lab at the University of British Columbia, which performs research designed to advance theoretical conceptualizations of how brain function relates to behaviour during learning. She is an expert in neuroimaging and neurophysiology, and uses a variety of cutting edge technology in her research. Dr. Boyd also directs the Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine.

Wednesday, September 26

Title: Designing for Collaborative Data Analysis, a Crime Solving story

Speaker: Nitesh Goyal, Google Research

Abstract: My research vision is to enable expert and non-experts to successfully make sense of complex world problems. As a Human-Computer Interaction researcher, I iteratively focus on studying how sensemaking is performed to identify challenges in collaborative data analytics, design tools using computational techniques that overcome these challenges and evaluate my designs using human participants to inform subsequent designs. Solving crimes correctly is one such critical and life-altering problem. National Registry at the University of Michigan points out that almost 175 wrongfully incriminated folks were exonerated after having spent a non-trivial amount of their life in prison for crimes they did not commit in 2016 alone. This is 4X the number 10 years ago and continues an upward trend. During my work, I have discovered that sharing information socially, succumbing to cognitive biases, and lack of support afforded by changing interaction paradigms as key challenges in collaborative data analytics. Subsequently, I have iteratively developed multiple tools, including SAVANT REFLECTIVA, CROWDS4ANALYTICS, TEMPORA, and RAMPARTS to overcome these challenges. My approach establishes a research framework for creating rich collaborative data analytic systems by: (1) utilizing human generated analytic artifacts to inform and design the interactions (2) leveraging “off-the-shelf” natural language processing, sensors and crowds creatively to design intelligent data analytic tools, and (3) evaluating the effect of these designs in controlled settings to identify the cost vs. benefit of each design decision.

Bio: Tesh Goyal is a researcher at Google, where his collaborative sensemaking research has been used in Google Maps and Web experiences. Tesh’s research develops design approaches to build novel data analytics tools that enhance information sharing, reduce biases using visualizations, minimize distractions using physiological data, and support collaborative problem-solving with crowds. His research has also contributed to the theory of Sensemaking by inventing Sensemaking Translucence as a design metaphor for a mirror that enables self-reflection. He received his MSc in Computer Science from University of California, Berkeley and RWTH Aachen under Prof. John Canny’s advice, prior to receiving his PhD from Cornell University in Information Science where he was advised by Prof. Susan R. Fussell. His research has been supported by German Govt. Fellowship, National Science Foundation, and MacArthur Genius Grant. Frequently collaborating with industry (Google Research, Yahoo Labs, HP Labs, Bloomberg Labs), he has published 10 first-author papers in top-tier HCI conferences and journals (CHI, CSCW, JASIST, ICTD, ICIC and Ubicomp/IMWUT) and has received two best paper honorable nomination awards.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

DFP Design Showcase and Poster Session

The first DFP Design Showcase was on Wednesday June 20.  Building on the HCI@UBC Poster/demo forum held for the past 5 years in April, this year will highlighted the design projects from the DFP project course 554K (Students and Industry partners) in addition to posters and demos from HCI@UBC and DFP Community (Students and Faculty). There was also a talk by Dr Koji Yatani, University of Tokyo 


TIMING: 12noon – 3pm

PRIZES: Multiple project prizes, each $100 (cash)

* Maximum size for posters 3ft x 4ft (90 cm x 120 cm), either portrait or landscape

** Demos will have 5ft x 2ft (150 x 60 cm) table each


Time Description
10:00 – 11:45 Presenters  are invited to setup posters and demos
11:45 – 12:00 Registration
12:00 – 12:05 Welcome  & Overview of Voting Process
12:05 – 1:30 Posters & Demos  & Lunch
1:30 Deadline for votes to be handed in
1:30 – 1:50 DFP Project Presentations
1:50 – 2:00 Short Break
2:00  – 2:45 Talk: Dr. Koji Yatani, University of Tokyo, Statistical methods for HCI research
2:45 – 3:00 Closing remarks & awards announcement


Talk Details: 2pm – Dr Koji Yatani, University of Tokyo

Title: Reshaping Security Experience

Abstract: Cyber-security becomes more and more important as users interact with a wide variety of computer devices and online services. Yet, people may not be well motivated to keep using security systems because it is an extra burden from the user perspective. Or they may not well-informed about potential risks around their online activities. In this talk, I will mainly present two projects related to user experience of cyber-security and privacy. Auth ‘n’ Scan is a sensing technology that concurrently senses user’s heart rates during fingerprint authentication/identification. It re-designs use experience of unlocking to collection of healthcare data. I will also present a quantitative study on potential personal information disclosure through activities on Twitter (e.g., reacting posts with likes and following friends). In addition, I will present several recent work of ours on interactive system design using sensor and/or AI technology.

Bio: Dr. Koji Yatani ( is an Associate Professor and 2017 UTokyo Excellent Young Researcher in Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Systems (EEIS), School of Engineering at The University of Tokyo (Department of Information and Communication Engineering for undergrads), where he leads Interactive Intelligent Systems Laboratory ( He is also affiliated with Emerging Design and Informatics Course, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies. He is also a technology advisor at Stockmark Inc. His main research interests lie in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Ubiquitous Computing. His current research focuses on development and evaluations of biometrics security systems with concurrent physiological sensing, productivity/creativity support, and interactive systems to encourage user behavior changes. He is an Editor for Proceedings of ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable, and Ubiquitous Technology (IMWUT), and an Associate Editor for ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI).

For further information or any questions, please contact Kerry Neil –

If you plan on attending we require you to RSVP (for catering requirements):

Designing for People 2018 Showcase and Poster Session WINNERS!

Award Name Criteria Winner(s)
What Sorcery is This? The most complete-looking “wizard of oz” demo. From Tangible to Augmented: designing a PhonoBlocks reading system using everyday technologies
Min Fan, Alissa N. Antle and Shubhra Sarker
Glitterbomb! Best visual design of a poster. Single-channel vibrotactile feedback for voicing enhancement in trained and untrained perceivers

David Marino, Hannah Elbaggari, Tzu Hsu (Sophy) Chu, Karon Maclean and Bryan Gick

Well Said Best science communication (project pitch). Motor Adaptation to Visual Symmetry Error Augmentation in Bimanual Forward Reaching

Leia Shum

Unicorn Most disciplines in a single project. VitalPAD: Designing a mobile monitoring and communication application to support pediatric intensive care in a newly designed academic acute care centre

K Tanille Johnson, Cheryle Peters, Nicholas West, J Mark Ansermino, David Wensley, Peter Skippen, and Matthias Gorges

K-Index Your personal favourite PAWH: Personalized and Augmented Web History

Amelia W. Cole, Taslim Arefin Khan, Borke Obada-Obieh, Shareen Mahmud, Kamyar Ardekani, Joanna McGrenere

Walking Catfish The strangest application of theory in practice. CuddleBits 2018: Simple Soft Robots getting Softer

P. Bucci, L. Cang, K. Maclean,

Darth The results most likely to be used for evil purposes. Navi-Tweet or: Toward location-aware machines with twitter

Michael Przystupa, Muhammad Abdul-Mageed


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Title: Childhood Play in a UbiComp World

Speaker: Alexis Hiniker, Assistant Professor of Human Computer Interaction in the Information School at the University of Washington


In the attention economy, every user’s time and attention is a valuable commodity with the potential to generate advertising revenue, and developers increasingly seek to monetize the attention of young children. Despite this problematic incentive structure, many experts herald children’s technology for its the potential to bring enjoyable and educational experiences to young people en masse. Who is right? Is technology eroding the best part of childhood or defining it? In this talk, I present findings from my recent studies on designing for children showing what designers should be building and what consumers should demand.


Alexis Hiniker is an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction for Social Good at the University of Washington Information School. She studies the ways that technologies manipulate and exploit their users and how to design more respectful alternatives, particularly for children. Her past and current work has been supported by Mozilla, Sesame Workshop, Microsoft Research, Facebook, and more. Her scholarship has been covered by The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Good Morning America, and many other media outlets. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Harvard, a master’s degree in Learning, Design, and Technology from Stanford, and a Ph.D. in Human Centered Design and Engineering from the University of Washington.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Title: On Multi-modal and Structured Visual Intelligence

Speaker: Leonid Sigal, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia


In this talk, I will discuss recent work from my group focusing on multi-modal learning, in the form of the visual question dialoging. The benefits of the proposed model include new form of associative memory that is able to help in visual reference resolution, which is key to any dialog system. Time permitting, I will also talk about slightly older work on perceptual control of garment simulation, where we used very simple perceptual studies and machine learning techniques to re-parametrise simulators for ease of use by animators.


Leonid Sigal is a Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. Prior to this Leonid was a Senior Research Scientist at Disney Research Pittsburgh and an Adjunct Faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University. His research focuses on problems of visual understanding and reasoning. This includes object recognition, scene understanding, articulated motion capture, motion modeling, action recognition, motion perception, manifold learning, transfer learning, character and cloth animation and a number of other directions on the intersection of computer vision, machine learning, and computer graphics.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Title: The Making of DUB

Speaker: James Landay, Professor, School of Engineering, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA


DUB is a successful grassroots alliance of Human-Computer Interaction and Design researchers and students at the University of Washington. In this talk I’ll tell the history of how DUB started after I joined the University of Washington as a faculty member in 2003. In particular, I’ll describe how DUB fit into the existing environment for interdisciplinary HCI and Design at UW, what worked well, where we did not succeed, and how this group grew to become one of the leading centers for HCI and Design research today with over 100 people involved.

The making of DUB slides can be accessed here:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Title: From On Body to Out of Body User Experience

Speaker: James Landay, Professor, School of Engineering, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA


Today’s most common user interfaces represent an incremental change from the GUI popularized by the Apple Macintosh in 1984. Over the last 30 years the dominant hardware has changed drastically while the user interface has barely moved: from one hand on a mouse to two fingers on a panel of glass. I will illustrate how we are building on-body interfaces of the future that further engage our bodies by using muscle sensing for input and vibrotactile output, offering discrete and natural interaction on the go. I will also show how other interfaces we are designing take an even more radical approach, moving the interface off the human body altogether and onto drones that project into the space around them. Finally, I will introduce a new project where we envision buildings as hybrid physical-digital spaces that both sense and actuate to improve human wellbeing.


James Landay is a Professor of Computer Science and the Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan Professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford University. He specializes in human-computer interaction. He is the founder and co-director of the World Lab, a joint research and educational effort with Tsinghua University in Beijing. Previously, Landay was a Professor of Information Science at Cornell Tech in New York City, a Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, and a Professor in EECS at UC Berkeley. From 2003 through 2006 he was the Laboratory Director of Intel Labs Seattle, a university affiliated research lab that explored the new usage models, applications, and technology for ubiquitous computing. He was also the chief scientist and co-founder of NetRaker, which was acquired by KeyNote Systems in 2004. Landay received his BS in EECS from UC Berkeley in 1990, and MS and PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1993 and 1996, respectively. He is a member of the ACM SIGCHI Academy and he is an ACM Fellow. homepage:


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Title: Priming the brain to learn using robotics and stimulation

Speaker: Lara Boyd, PT, PhD, Professor, UBC Department of Physical Therapy

Abstract: Recovery after stroke is slow and outcomes are highly variable.  In part this is because the dose of rehabilitation necessary is very large.  One approach to this problem is to pre-excite or prime the brain to learn using robotics or brain stimulation.  This talk will review both approaches and provide data to show how these technologies may be used to facilitate both brain activity and recovery of function after stroke.


Dr. Lara Boyd is the Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Motor Learning, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Career Investigator, a Peter Wall Scholar, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, at the University of British Columbia.  She is a Neuroscientist and Physical Therapist. Dr. Boyd directs the Brain Behaviour Lab at the University of British Columbia, which performs research designed to advance theoretical conceptualizations of how brain function relates to behaviour during learning. She is an expert in neuroimaging and neurophysiology, and uses a variety of cutting edge technology in her research. Dr. Boyd also directs the Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Title: Investigating Metadata as a Resource for Designing Longer-Term Interactions

Speaker: William Odom, PhD, Assistant Professor, SFU School of Interactive Arts and Technology

Abstract: The convergence of social, cloud and mobile computing alongside the massive adoption of networked personal devices has resulted in the production of large amounts of metadata—human or machine constructed traces of digital information that implicitly and explicitly document people’s interactions and experiences in daily life. These diverse and growing archives of metadata offer largely unexplored opportunities for revealing rich insights about ourselves, catalyzing new social connection and collaborations with others, and supporting longer-term interactions with technologies inhabiting our everyday lives. In this talk I will draw on examples of systems developed in my recent research to demonstrate and reflect on new opportunities that metadata presents for designers and researchers of interactive technology.


William Odom is an Assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University. His work has received numerous best paper and honorable mention awards at ACM conferences including CHI, DIS, and Ubicomp, as well as a silver international design excellence award (IDEA) from the Industrial Designers Society of America. He is Technical Program Chair for ACM DIS 2018. He holds a Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, and was previously a Fulbright Scholar in Australia and a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in Canada. He can be reached at:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Title: Pocket Skills: A Conversational Mobile Web App To Support Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Speaker: Mary Czerwinski, PhD, Microsoft Research, Redmond WA


Mental health disorders are a leading cause of disability worldwide. Although evidence-based psychotherapy is effective, engagement from such programs can be low. Mobile apps have the potential to help engage and support people in their therapy. We developed Pocket Skills, a mobile web app based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Pocket Skills teaches DBT via a conversational agent modeled on Marsha Linehan, who developed DBT. We examined the feasibility of Pocket Skills in a 4-week field study with 73 individuals enrolled in psychotherapy. After the study, participants reported decreased depression and anxiety and increased DBT skills use. We present a model based on qualitative findings of how Pocket Skills supported DBT. Pocket Skills helped participants engage in their DBT and practice and implement skills in their environmental context, which enabled them see the results of using their DBT skills and increase their self-efficacy. We discuss the design implications of these findings for future mobile mental health systems, and can discuss other mobile apps providing interventions just in time, or personalized to the user.


Mary Czerwinski is a senior HCI researcher and Research Manager of the Visualization and Interaction (VIBE) Research Group at Microsoft Research Redmond WA. Mary’s research focuses primarily on emotion tracking, information worker task management, health and wellness for individuals and groups. Her background is in visual attention and multitasking. She holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Indiana University in Bloomington. Mary was awarded the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Service Award, was inducted into the CHI Academy, and became an ACM Distinguished Scientist in 2010. Mary became a Fellow of the ACM in 2016. She also received the Distinguished Alumni award from Indiana University’s Brain and Psychological Sciences department in 2014 and will receive a Distinguished Alumni award from the College of Arts and Sciences from Indiana in February, 2018.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Title: Towards Better User Interfaces for 3D

Speaker: Wolfgang Stuerzlinger, Professor, SFU School of Interactive Arts and Technology

Three-dimensional (3D) user interfaces are popular in science fiction movies. Inspired by such visions, there are now many systems that enable people to interact with 3D content, including computer games. Based on reflections on the capabilities and limitations of both humans and technologies, I present recent research improvements to 3D pointing, docking, manipulation, and navigation methods and new fatigue models for 3D interaction. Finally, I will present two new virtual reality systems.


Building on his deep expertise in virtual reality and human-computer interaction, Dr. Stuerzlinger is a leading researcher in spatial and three-dimensional user interfaces. He got his Doctorate from the Vienna University of Technology. Since 2014, he is a full professor at the School of Interactive Arts + Technology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. His works aims to find innovative solutions for real-world problems. Current research projects include better interaction techniques for spatial applications, new human-in-the-loop systems for big data analysis (visual analytics and immersive analytics), the characterization of the effects of technology limitations on human performance, investigations of human behaviors with occasionally failing technologies, user interfaces for versions, scenarios and alternatives, and new virtual reality hardware and software.
Home page:

November 8, 2017

Calmer: A Robot for Managing Pain in Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Liisa Holsti, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, UBC Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy

Each year worldwide, over 15 million infants are born preterm. These infants need specialized medical procedures to save their lives, many of which may be painful; however, early pain is associated with brain injury and with negative effects on growth and development. Traditional medications for reducing pain are not effective particularly for routine medical tests. Instead, behavioral treatments, such as parents holding their infants skin-to-skin, are recommended. Yet, for a variety of reasons, many parents are not able to hold their infants for the many months needed to treat each painful event while their infants are in the NICU. To address this problem, Dr. Holsti, Dr. Karon MacLean (UBC CS) and Mr. Henry Voss (UBC Engineering Graduate), invented a robotic system called Calmer, that delivers simultaneously fundamental components of skin-to-skin holding (touch, motion and sound) that activate parallel physiological pathways to reduce pain. This talk will focus on the development and early clinical testing of the first prototypes of Calmer.


Dr. Liisa Holsti is an Associate Professor in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at UBC, holds a Canada Research Chair and is an Investigator at B.C. Children’s Hospital and B.C. Women’s Research Institutes. Dr. Holsti’s research is aimed at optimizing neurodevelopment in high-risk infants and children. She has expertise in developing assessment tools, including functional brain monitoring technology, and evaluating novel non-pharmacological and technology-based strategies for brain protection for infants cared for in the NICU.

Wednesday October 11, 2017

The Dream of a Common Infrastructure: Why We Should Get Out of the Lab in the Big Data Era

Ellen Balka, University Professor, SFU School of Communication

Ellen Balka will speak about the need to leave the lab and go out into the field and use ethnography in order to improve data quality in an era of big data. Historically, much HCI research was carried out in laboratory settings using experimental methods. And, while these methods remain important, in this talk she will suggest that they are wholly inadequate in addressing issues arising in our efforts to build large multiuser computing infrastructures to support big data applications and analysis. Using examples from 20 years of ethnographically-based field research in healthcare and related settings, she will outline a number of human computer interaction challenges which emerged through observationally based ethnographic research. The examples she draws on underscore the importance of focusing on how people work in situ – in real world organizations, carrying out real-world tasks – and also highlight a number of issues and challenges which threaten data quality, and ultimately analytic findings based on poor quality data, in an era of big data.


Ellen Balka is a University Professor in Simon Fraser University’s School of Communication. She is also an associate member of SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology, and a Senior Scientist in Vancouver Coastal Health’s Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation. Throughout her career, her work has spanned computer science and social sciences. A frequent contributor to publications in the areas of computer supported cooperative work, participatory design of information technology systems, and occasionally HCI, she and her team also regularly publish in health and medical informatics journals. Her engagement with computing began as an undergraduate geography major, when she became interested in limitations inherent to algorithms used to simulate heat loss and thermal gain. After completing a Masters degree that focused on computerization of women’s work, Dr. Balka went on to conduct one of the first large studies of the use of computer networks for social change for her doctoral work, for which she earned an interdisciplinary degree in applied sciences combining computer science, communication, and women studies. Balka has held grants from SSHRC, CIHR, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Health Canada, and Genome BC as PI. Her publications have been recognized by Best Paper Awards from the ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work as well as the Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS), and she and her team received the Artful Integrators Award at the bi-annual Participatory Design Conference for contributions to participatory design of computer and information technology systems. Her current work is concerned with design and implementation of an adverse drug event reporting system (with Dr. Corinne Hohl, UBC and VCH).

5th Annual HCI@UBC Annual Kickoff Event: September 13, 2017, 12noon-1pm

Speaker #1: Dongwook Yoon, Assistant Professor, UBC Computer Science

Title: Rich collaboration systems: Improving online collaboration with multi-modal interactions


In this talk, Dongwook Yoon will present rich collaboration systems that are designed to bring the expressivity of human-to-human interaction into online collaboration. Face-to-face interaction, as compared to meeting in a virtual way, offers unmatched expressivity for conveying complex ideas and nuanced emotions (e.g., emotions embedded in voice inflection or the unspoken meaning of a pointed finger). To enhance expressivity of virtual collaboration tools, Yoon’s design approach translates such natural human interactions into novel combinations of input modalities (e.g., speech, writing, and gesture) that serve as building blocks for fluid, rich, and lightweight interfaces. Yoon built, deployed, and evaluated high-fidelity systems in real world contexts (e.g., classrooms), from which we can obtain ecologically valid user data. He plan to pursue the vision for rich collaboration systems by extending his approach to virtual reality, a promising next generation computing platform.


Dongwook Yoon completed his Ph.D. at Cornell in Information Science. Dongwook joined the UBC Department of Computer Science as an assistant professor in August 2017. His research lies at the intersection of human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, computer-mediated communication, and educational technology. He builds interactive systems powered by expressive multi-modal interactions. His work frequently appears at top-tier ACM venues including UIST, CSCW, and CHI. His multi-modal document commenting system, RichReview, has been deployed to six different classes at Cornell, including a massive open online course where it was successfully used by more than 150 students around the world as a tool for online peer discussion assignment. He has worked at Microsoft Research, edX, and KIST. He earned his B.S. in electrical engineering and M.S. in computer graphics from Seoul National University. His Ph.D. study has been supported by a Kwanjeong Scholarship.

Speaker #2: Marina Milner-Bolotin, Associate Professor, UBC Curriculum & Pedagogy (Faculty of Education)

Title: Examination of Technology-Enhanced Collaboration in STEM Teacher Education: Opportunities, Challenges and Possibilities


The 60th anniversary of Sputnik is a great opportunity to reflect on the developments of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Canada. It is also timely to examine how modern technological developments, specifically collaborative technologies, have shaped and are shaping how we learn and teach STEM and how we educate new teachers. This is the focus of my research. I will also describe how technology is changing how we are educating future STEM teachers here at the University of British Columbia and what I think might be the future of STEM teacher education.


Dr. Marina Milner-Bolotin is an Associate Professor in Science Education at the UBC Faculty of Education (Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy). Her research focusses on uncovering the potential of modern technologies in STEM teacher education; STEM outreach to the general public; and on increasing student engagement with STEM disciplines through creative use of technologies. To learn more about her work, please visit her web site:

Speaker #3: Dr. Julia Bullard, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts, iSchool

Title: Invisible conflict: Organizing systems in construction and experience


Organizing systems—such as classifications, subject headings, and metadata schemes—are meant to fade into the background of our experience. In contrast to this invisibility, the construction of an organizing system is often a fraught process which surfaces latent conflicts and crises among concepts and among interdependent technical systems. In this talk, Julia Bullard will introduce her research into how designers manage and express such conflicts in the construction of an organizing system.


Dr. Bullard joined the iSchool at UBC in September 2017 after completing her PhD at University of Texas, Austin. Her program of research focuses on classification systems, specifically in the design of organizing systems and how these invisible layers of information infrastructure come to represent—or conflict with—the needs and values of their users and collections. Her dissertation research entailed an ethnography of volunteer classification designers for a large fanfiction repository.


Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality Research meetup
Who: Hosted by Yvonne Coady
Where: the Hangar at the Centre for Digital Media
When: Friday May 26th 9:30am-11:30am


April 12, 2017
HCI@UBC: Designing for People Year-end Poster/Demo Event
Do you have a poster or demo ready to share?

Date: Wednesday, April 12
Time: 12noon–2pm
Where: Forestry Building, 2nd floor; Room 2300 A – 2424 Main Mall;

The steering committee wants to thank everyone for participating and attending the HCI@UBC-Designing for People Year-end Poster/Demo event today. We had great attendance and some wonderful posters and demos presented today. Below are the winners (we had some ties as there were so many wonderful projects).


Poster #6

Project Title: SWAPP (Sleep/Wake-Behaviours App)

Authors and affiliation:The project is developed by Emily Carr University Health Design Lab in collaboration with BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute and Simon Fraser University, with funding from Kids Brain Health Network.


Demo #4

Title: WebValueCharts

Authors and affiliation: Emily Hindalong, Aaron Mishkin, Giuseppe Carenini

UBC Computer Science Department

Runners-up Posters: (tie) ($25 each)

Poster #1

Title: Human Proxemic Preferences for Robotic Gestures in Physical and Virtual Reality

Authors and affiliation: Sahba El-Shawa, Noah Kraemer and Sara Sheikholeslami (Affiliation: CARIS Lab, Supervisor: Elizabeth A. Croft)

Poster # 2

Title: Towards user-adaptive MMDs: Understanding how users process Multi-Modal Documents with eye tracking

Authors: Dereck Toker & Cristina Conati, Department of Computer Science

Runners-up Demo (tie) ($17 each)

Demo #1

Title: Haptic facets: Exploiting users’ sense-making schemas as a path to design and personalization of haptic experience

Authors and affiliation: Hasti Seifi, Dilorom Pardaeva, Karon E. MacLean – SPIN lab, Computer Science, UBC

Demo #3

Title: Behaviour design for CuddleBits: an iterative prototyping platform for complex haptic display.

Authors and affiliation: {Paul Bucci, Laura Cang, Matthew Chun, David Marino, Oliver Schneider, Hasti Seifi, and Karon MacLean}, computer science, UBC.

Demo # 5

Title: EZ-Zoom: Elastic Zed Zooming for Small Displays

Authors and affiliation: Dilan Ustek and Kevin Chow



HCI@UBC Forum : March 8, 2017

Nursing and Technology Lightening Talks

Can an internet resource support the health and well-being of women experiencing intimate partner violence?

Dr. Colleen Varcoe, RN, PhD


iCANplan4safety is an adaptation of an online resource developed initially in the US as a decision aid and tested in New Zealand and Australia. This presentation will feature the results of our randomized clinical trial of iCANplan4safety compared to ‘usual care’.

Dr. Colleen Varcoe is a professor in the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on reducing structural and interpersonal violence and inequities, and on promoting ethical and equitable health care practice and policy. She is currently leading or co-leading intervention studies to this end. These include studies of health promotion interventions for women experiencing violence, including a study specifically with Indigenous women, studies to promote equitable, culturally safe and trauma- and violence-informed care in primary care settings, and more recently in Emergency Departments and a study of an on-line safety and health intervention. Her teaching and research focus on discrimination related to the intersecting issues of gender, class and racism. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and author of over 100 journal articles, books and book chapters.

Virtual Reality (VR) for Pain and Other Health Applications

Dr. Bernie Garrett PhD, PGCEA, BA (Hons), R.N.

Dr. Garrett is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, School of Nursing. He was a renal Clinical Nurse Specialist for 15 years before becoming a nurse educator. He holds a PhD in information Science, and prior to his current appointment he was Department Head of Critical & Specialist Care at Oxford Brookes University in the U.K. Dr. Garrett’s current work highlights two main areas: 1) The use VR and AR in clinical and educational applications, and 2) science, philosophy, and the use of deceptive and non-evidence based practices in contemporary healthcare. He is currently exploring the use of VR to mitigate chronic cancer pain. His work is underpinned by a passion for science and technology, and frequently writes on these subjects including his recent graduate textbook: Science and Modern Thought in Nursing. He was the recipient of the 2007 at the Spencer Award for Information Technology Innovation, for his work on developing a mobile PDA-based e-portfolio for students, and the CRNBC Award of Excellence in Nursing Education in 2000. He was the Elizabeth Kenny-McCann Nursing Education Scholar at UBC between 2013-2014, and awarded the CASN Pat Griffin Nursing Education Scholarship between 2014-15.

Website interventions focused on Men’s smoking cessation, psychosocial prostate cancer support and prevention of male depression and suicide

Dr. John Oliffe, RN, PhD

John Oliffe is the founder and lead of the men’s health research program at UBC ( ). Dr. Oliffe is a Professor at the School of Nursing at the University of British Columbia. Founder and lead investigator of UBC’s Men’s Health Research program, his work focuses on masculinities as it influences men’s health behaviours and illness management, and its impact on partners, families and overall quality of life. His research provides key insights to guide clinicians and researchers advance men’s health promotion practices. John Oliffe is the nominated Principle Investigator for the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network and the P.I. for Project Five: Man-Up Against Suicide.

Using Gamestorming for User Centred Design with Patient Populations

Dr. Leanne Currie, RN, PhD

Dr. Leanne Currie is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia School of Nursing where she conducts research in the field of nursing, biomedical and health informatics. Dr. Currie worked as a critical care nurse for 15 years before completing her Masters in Nursing Informatics from University of California, San Francisco in 2001. She attained a PhD in Nursing Informatics from Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City in 2004, where she was funded as a pre-doctoral trainee with the US National Library of Medicine in Columbia University Department of Biomedical Informatics. She was faculty at Columbia University School of Nursing between 2005 and 2010. Since 2010 she has been faculty at UBC School of Nursing. Her program of research focuses on i) computerized clinical decision support systems, ii) measurement of informatics competencies, iii) user-centred design methods, and iv) digital literacy and access in low resource setting. Her students are working in areas such as global health informatics, patient safety informatics, clinical informatics, usability evaluation, informatics leadership, and informatics competencies.



February 8, 2017
HCI@UBC Forum hosted Parmit Chilana who will speak on understanding conversational programmers.

When: 12-1PM
Where: Engineering Design Centre (Room 102) Directions


Research in HCI and computing education is continuously helping us better understand the barriers to learning and teaching programming. However, many of the insights are based on the assumption that learners will eventually write code (e.g., as a professional developer or a domain-specific end-user programmer). But, is this always the case?

In this talk, I will be presenting our recent research, which shows that some students in fields such as management may not aspire to write code as an end-user programmer or a professional programmer, but are still strongly interested in taking programming classes. We call these students conversational programmers because they want to develop only conversational skills in programming literacy to be able to: 1) aid technical conversations with professional software developers in the future; or 2) enhance their marketability in the software industry. I will also discuss results from our follow up study that confirms the existence of such a population of conversational programmers in industry. Based on 3151 survey responses from non-engineering professionals at a large technology company who never or rarely wrote code on the job, we found that a significant number of them (42.6%) had invested in learning programming.  And, their top motivations to learn programming were also to improve the efficacy of technical conversations and to acquire marketable skillsets. I will discuss some of the broader implications of these findings and new directions for future work on conversational programmers.


Parmit Chilana is an Assistant Professor in human-computer interaction (HCI) at the School of Computing Science at Simon Fraser University. From 2013-16, she was an Assistant Professor in Management Sciences at the University of Waterloo. Parmit’s core research in HCI focuses on the design and study of novel tools and techniques that help people use, learn, and program feature-rich software. Her work has been recognized with several awards and honors, including Best Paper and Honorable mention awards at the ACM CHI conference and 2nd place in the international iSchool Doctoral Dissertation Award competition. Parmit received her PhD in Information Science from the University of Washington in 2013 where she also co-founded AnswerDash, a venture-funded startup that is commercializing her dissertation work on selection-based crowdsourced help retrieval. Parmit received her BSc from Simon Fraser University and MSc from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


January 11th, 2017
HCI@UBC Forum hosted Caylee Raber who will speak on Co-creating better health and wellness through design.

When: 12-1PM
Where: Engineering Design Centre (Room 102) Directions

The Health Design Lab (HDL) at Emily Carr University specializes in using human-centred design approaches to address complex challenges in health and healthcare.  At the core of our practice is the use of Co-creation, largely following the methodology established by Sanders and Stappers (2012), itself based on rich HCI background, notably Participatory Design. Co-creation is the creative act of making, telling and enacting, wherein designers prompt participants to interpret and answer ambiguous questions; discuss problems; describe future experiences, concerns or opportunities; make artifacts or “things”; and create prototypes. Co-creating allows us to quickly understand complex social problems, explore possible solutions, detect mistakes in design ideas, and create solutions tailored to people’s needs.

In this presentation, HDL Director, Caylee Raber will describe the human-centred design methodologies used within the Lab and provide examples from recent projects with our industry and community partners.  The presentation will highlight the design strategies and methods used on one of our current collaborations with Investigators from the Sleep/Wake Behaviour Clinic and Research Lab at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute and SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology on a “Sleep/ Wake Application (SWAPP)” to better understand, diagnose and treat sleep disorders.

The main objective of this project is to create an intuitive, user-friendly application that allows parents/caregivers to better capture, monitor and share their children’s’ sleep/wake-behaviours through qualitative narratives with their care providers.

Caylee Raber is the Director of the Health Design Lab at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. The Health Design Lab is a research centre that applies design thinking to healthcare, using human-centred design research methodologies to address complex problems. Caylee’s practice focuses on the application of her interdisciplinary design skillset and experience with generative human-centred research methods to the health and education sectors.

As a designer and healthcare consultant, Caylee was involved in operations and transition planning in major hospital redevelopment projects in the US and Canada. In addition to her design practice, Caylee has been an active educator in the design program at Emily Carr University and is a design-education consultant in elementary schools in BC. Caylee’s Master of Design thesis work explored the integration of design as a pedagogic approach within K-7 classrooms, with a focus on the benefits of design for children with learning differences.

Caylee seeks to engage people as active participants within design in order to improve the health, education and well-being of our community.


HCI@UBC Forum : December 14th, 2016

Exploratory analysis in virtual reality: Stakeholders in the new frontier

Dr. Yvonne Coady


Yvonne is a software engineering investigating challenges in modern system infrastructure software. This has resulted in contributions falling into three core areas: traditional system evolution and maintenance, emerging avenues of advanced modularity across the software stack, and new programming paradigms and future pedagogical directions in concurrent environments. Many of her projects are in the intersection of HCI and software engineering. The Slice Around the World project is an example. A  “slice” is a collection of highly programmable resources—including segments of networks and virtual machines—within a globally distributed research environment. The project is exploring a new breed of applications that could be part of our everyday lives someday soon using OpenFlow-based networks, integrated with cloud technology. This means that everyone, everywhere, may sometime soon be faced with the question… what will you do with your supercomputer?


Virtual Reality (VR) is projected to have it’s first billion dollar year in 2016 (Deloitte report) and to become a 35 billion dollar market by 2025 (Goldman Sachs report). Initially much of that market is dominated by hardware and gaming, but serious data analytics applications in healthcare, engineering, earth observation, military applications and education form 12 billion dollars of the projected market in 2025.

Simultaneously, one of the fastest growing segments of the IT industry is data science. There is a profound shortage of people who are domain experts, able to program analyses, and understand how to leverage cloud data centres to explore vast amounts of data. One solution to the deluge of data is to train more data scientists. Another solution is to make better tools so as to reduce the technical level of expertise required for domain experts to derive interesting insights from data. Emerging technology such as VR, 3D input devices and Natural Language Processing (NLP) could now provide the platform for a new set of rich interactive tools to allow groups of individuals to collaboratively explore complex data sets in a way that is accessible and approachable to the broader community.

This presentation provides a survey of opportunities and challenges associated of leveraging VR and NLP using case studies from cloud computing dashboards, ocean monitoring systems, and bioinformatics. What interaction mechanisms are most effective at promoting engagement? What are the most seamless ways of elucidating the inter-relationship of disparate data sets? What are the best models for group interactions in a virtual environment? Specifically, the potential impact on user experience relative to common interaction scenarios with current tools will be identified in this presentation.

HCI@UBC Forum : November 9th, 2016

VizIT: Use-Driven MOOC Analytics for Course Teams

Dr. Ido Roll


Ido Roll is the Senior Manager for Research and Evaluation in the Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology at the University of British Columbia. He graduated from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and serves on the executive board and steering committee of the Society for Artificial Intelligence in Education and Learning at Scale. Ido studies how information- and interaction- design can support students in becoming more competent, curious, creative, and collaborative learners. Towards that goal, he works with faculty members from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and educational contexts. His research utilizes methodologies from the fields of learning analytics, cognitive science, education, and human-computer interaction. His publications in these fields have won numerous awards. More can be found on his website,


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have millions of diverse learners. However, rather than leveraging on the wealth of knowledge and perspectives in the community, learning from MOOCs is often a solitary experience. Similarly, instructors in MOOCs often receive little feedback with regard to students’ goals, engagement, and learning. Instead, instructors settle for shallow heuristics of success (such as retention rate) or overly specific data (such as percentage of learners who watch a certain video for a certain duration).

In this talk Roll will describe VizIT, a dashboard that seeks to close the loop and offer instructors formative feedback on their courses and learners. VizIT bridges the information sciences, learning sciences, and instructional design to emphasize relationship between course structure and engagement, offer an intuitive understanding of learning in the course, and provide success metrics and actionable information. VizIT is being released for 16 MOOCs at the University of British Columbia.

Location and time

Engineering Design Centre, Rm 102


Trust in IT: Factors, Metrics and Models

Dr. Clare Hooper

Clare Hooper is a computer scientist specialised in human-computer interaction, user experience and web science. She has led various national research projects in the UK as well as major work packages in EU projects. Clare enjoys the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary work, and has recently moved to Vancouver.


The TRIFoRM project brought together computer science, health science, social science and engineering to explore the trusting beliefs of users of IT systems, looking at factors that influence trust of systems and ways to model those factors and trust levels. The team focused particularly on healthcare technologies for monitoring chronic conditions, and interviewed people who may use or provide healthcare monitoring technology to understand what was important to them as individuals. Analysis of the interviews let the team identify possible threats to trust of technology, and controls to mitigate those threats. In addition, the team identified two key issues. The first issue was that it is clear that people using a monitoring technology to manage pain are more likely to take risks and tolerate faults, making them more vulnerable. The second issue is the importance of relationships: patients were concerned that monitoring technology might change their relationship with healthcare providers, as well as with whether healthcare providers themselves trust the technology.

Location and time

Engineering Design Centre, Rm 102


Fourth Annual Kickoff Event

When: 12-1PM
Where:Dodson Room  (Room 302) in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
Who:Anyone interested in finding out more about Human-Computer Interaction at UBC
What:You will be treated to three short talks that show the breadth of HCI-related research and activities happening at UBC.

Mapping innovativeness by design: A human and machine approach

Angèle Beausoleil
Interdisciplinary Studies

Angèle has recently completed her PhD in Innovation Process studies at UBC, following a 25 year career as a strategist and lead-innovator for creative agencies, technology companies and consumer packaged brands. She balances teaching at the Sauder School of Business with design-method focused research projects. She continues to advise global consulting agencies on new business models, new products and services. She is passionate about developing future innovators and supervises, advises, and mentors graduate and undergraduate students, along with other BC-based entrepreneurs.

Angèle shares her recent research on how innovativeness can be taught, learned and practiced in the classroom and inside corporations. Her methodology involves design-centred qualitative and quantitative research techniques. She will discuss an important role for HCI in innovation studies.

Getting Emotional with Machines: Affect in HCI

Artificial intelligence has witnessed a recent surge, with scientists teaching machines to ‘speak’ and ‘see,’ but can we also teach them to be ‘social’? In this talk, I sketch some of my relevant research on building social machines and synergies with HCI.

Dr. Muhammad Abdul-Mageed
Information and Media Studies

Dr. Abdul-Mageed completed a dual Ph.D. in Computational Linguistics and Information Science at Indiana University in 2015. Between 2010 and 2012, he was a Visiting Scholar in the Center for Computational Learning Systems, Columbia University. Prior to taking up a UBC faculty position in SLAIS, he was a fellow of the Center of Computer-Mediated Communication at Indiana University. He is a member of the standing reviewing committee for Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics. His interests lie at the intersection of social media, natural language processing, and machine learning. He is an expert on Arabic sentiment analysis and is especially interested in learning from people and data over social media and creating more ‘social’ machines.

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