Prof. John Stasko of Georgia Tech visits DGP

Prof. John Stasko of Georgia Tech visited the DGP to talk about visual analytics and information/data visualization.


John Stasko is a Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a widely published and internationally recognized researcher in the areas of information visualization and visual analytics, approaching each from a human-computer interaction perspective. His Information Interfaces Research Group develops ways to help people and organizations explore, analyze, and make sense of data in order to solve problems. Stasko has been Papers/Program Co-Chair for the IEEE InfoVis and the IEEE VAST Conferences, and has served on numerous journal editorial boards including ACM ToCHI, IEEE TVCG, and Information Visualization. In Fall 2013 he was General Chair for the IEEE VIS conference in Atlanta, the primary research meeting for the field of data visualization. Stasko is an IEEE Fellow and an ACM Distinguished Scientist, and in 2012 he received the IEEE VGTC Visualization Technical Achievement Award. He also is an Honorary Professor in the School of Computer Science at the Univ. of St. Andrews in Scotland.


Reflections on Data Visualization (Some Things I’ve Learned Along the Way)


Everyone’s talking about data these days. People, organizations, and businesses are seeking better ways to analyze, understand, and communicate their data. While a variety of approaches can be taken to this challenge, my own research has focused on data visualization. In this talk, I’ll describe the particular advantages that visualization brings to data analysis beyond other techniques. Additionally, I’ll identify three key tenets for success in data visualization: understanding purpose, embracing interaction, and identifying value. To help support this premise, I will draw upon and illustrate a number of current research projects from my lab and I’ll recount a few anecdotes and experiences that  have helped to form my views.

Ben Lafreniere of the University of Saskatchewan visits DGP

Ben Lafreniere of the University of Saskatchewan visited the DGP to talk about rehearsal-based interfaces.


Ben Lafreniere is a Human-Computer Interaction researcher who specializes in the areas of learning and skill development with interactive systems, and the usability of feature-rich software. In 2014 he received a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo for his work on developing task-centric user interfaces. He is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Interaction lab at the University of Saskatchewan.


Rehearsal-based interfaces are designed to enable a smooth transition from novice to expert performance by making the novice user’s visually-guided actions a physical rehearsal of the expert’s feedback-free actions. While a number of examples of these interfaces have been developed, including Marking Menus and FastTap menus, there is little published data on how skill development happens in real use of these interfaces. In this talk I will describe two studies we conducted on skill development in rehearsal-based interfaces: one in a game that directly rewards rapid menu selections, and another in a drawing application that has no particular need for urgency. Our results show very different patterns of adoption in these two applications, and suggest that rehearsal of physical actions alone does not guarantee that users will adopt expert methods. I will also discuss insights into what affects use of expert methods by users, and the implications of our findings for how rehearsal-based techniques should be employed in practice. Finally, I will discuss ongoing research that builds on this work.

Prof. Sid Fels of UBC visits DGP

Professor Sid Fels from the ECE department at UBC, a DCS PhD alumnus, visited the DGP to talk about his work on the intersections between HCI, human anatomy, and forms of expression.


Sid has been in the department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia since 1998. Sidney received his Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Computer Science at the University of Toronto in 1994 and 1990 respectively. He received his B.A.Sc. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 1988. He was recognized as a Distinguished University Scholar at UBC from 2004. He was a visiting researcher at ATR Media Integration & Communications Research Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan from 1996 to 1997. He also worked at Virtual Technologies Inc. in Palo Alto, CA. He is internationally known for his work in human-computer interaction, biomechanical modeling of human anatomy, and new interfaces for musical expression and interactive arts. He was a principal investigator on the Canadian Networks Centre of Excellence on Graphics, Animation and New Media (GRAND) from 2010-2014. He was the Director of the Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC) from 2001-2012.


Design for Human Experience and Expression: Research at MAGIC and the HCT Laboratory


Research at the Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC; and the Human Communications Technology (HCT) laboratory ( has been targeting design for human experience and expression. In this presentation, I’€™ll start with a discussion of gesture-to-speech and voice explorations, including Glove-TalkII and the Digital Ventriloquized Actors (DIVAs). I’€™ll connect these to other explorations of the new interfaces for musical and visual expression that we have created.  I’€™ll then show some more work on new forms of personalized video viewing that we call the MyView system. MyView creates a new viewing experience though integrating human memory patterns into the navigation, browsing, annotation, authoring and sharing mechanisms. I will briefly discuss our work on modelling human anatomy ( and function, such as speaking, chewing, swallowing and breathing ( with biomechanical models using our toolkit Artisynth ( This work is motivated by our quest to make a new vocal instrument that can be controlled by gesture. I’ll discuss some of the activities we have been doing on some new 3D displays: pCubee and Spheree. Finally, these investigations will be used to support a theory of designing for intimacy and discussions of perspectives on human computer interaction for new experiences and forms of expression.

Michael Bernstein of Stanford visits DGP

Prof. Michael Bernstein of Stanford visited the DGP to talk about his work in designing crowd-sourcing systems for experts.

Dr. Bernstein at DGP


Michael Bernstein is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, where he co-directs the Human-Computer Interaction group and is a Robert N. Noyce Family Faculty Scholar. His research in human-computer interaction focuses on the design of crowdsourcing and social computing systems. This work has received Best Paper awards and nominations at premier venues in human-computer interaction and social computing (ACM UIST, ACM CHI, ACM CSCW, AAAI ISWSM). Michael has been recognized with the NSF CAREER award, as well as the George M. Sprowls Award for best doctoral thesis in Computer Science at MIT. He holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science from MIT, and a B.S. in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University.


Crowdsourcing a Meeting of Minds


Crowdsourcing is an increasingly powerful method for combining amateurs’ efforts to recreate an expert’s abilities. However, across domains from design to engineering to art, few goals are truly the effort of just one person — even one expert. If we can now crowdsource simple tasks such as image labeling, how might we computationally coordinate many peoples’ abilities toward far more complex and interdependent goals? In this talk, I present computational systems for gathering and guiding crowds of experts — including professional programmers, designers, singers and artists. The resulting collectives tackle problems modularly and at scale, dynamically grow and shrink depending on task demands, and combine into larger organizations. I’ll demonstrate how computationally-enabled expert crowds can pursue goals such as designing new user experiences overnight, producing animated shorts in two days, and even pursuing novel research.

Chris Harrison of CMU Visits DGP

Prof. Chris Harrison of CMU visited the DGP to talk about his work in mobile sensing.

Dr. Harrison's Lecture at DGP

Dr. Harrison’s Lecture at DGP


Chris is an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. He broadly investigates novel sensing technologies and interaction techniques, especially those that empower people to interact with small devices in big ways. Harrison has been named a top 30 scientist under 30 by Forbes, a top 35 innovator under 35 by MIT Technology Review, a Young Scientist by the World Economic Forum, and one of six innovators to watch by Smithsonian. He has been awarded fellowships by Google, Qualcomm, Microsoft Research and the Packard Foundation. He is also the CTO of Qeexo, a touchscreen technology startup.  When not in the lab, Chris can be found welding sculptures, visiting remote corners of the globe, and restoring his old house.


Interacting with Small Devices in Big Ways.


Eight years ago, multi-touch devices went mainstream, and changed our field, the industry and our lives. In that time, mobile devices have gotten much more capable, yet the core user experience has evolved little. Contemporary touch gestures rely on poking screens with different numbers of fingers: one-finger tap, two-finger pinch, three-finger swipe and so on. We often label these as “natural” interactions, yet the only place I perform these “gestures” is on my touchscreen device. We are also too quick to blame the “fat finger” problem for much of our touch interface woes – if a zipper or pen were too small to use, we would simply call that “bad design”. Fortunately, our fingers and hands are amazing, and with good technology and design, we can elevate touch interaction to new heights. I believe the era of multi-touch is coming to a close, and that we are on the eve of an exciting new age of “rich-touch” devices and experiences.

Jonathan Deber, Ricardo Jota, Clifton Forlines, Daniel Wigdor CHI Paper: Honorable Mention

How much Faster is Fast Enough? User Perception of Latency & Latency Improvements in Direct and Indirect Touch

Dr. Ricardo Jota Awarded Mitacs Postdoctoral Award

Ricardo Jota was awarded the Postdoctoral Award for Outstanding Innovation for his research with Tactual Labs.

Congratulations to Jota for the well-deserved recognition!

Read more about the Mitacs Awards Reception and Jota’s work in this press release.

Photo Courtesy of Mitacs. Pictured Above: Ted Mao (Trojan Technologies), Rafael Falcon (University of Ottawa), Linda Gowman (Trojan Technologies), Daniela Tuchel (Royal Roads University), Minister Chris Alexander (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), Minister Ed Holder (Minister of State, Science and Technology), Stephen Dugdale (Universite INRS), Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Minister of National Revenue), Dr. Rob Annan (interim Chief Executive Officer, Mitacs), Professor Alan Fung (Ryerson University) and Ricardo Jota (University of Toronto).