I am an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Toronto. My general area of research is the leveraging of computing technology to enable users to live better lives. This work includes the development of user interface software, interaction methods, sensor hardware, new device form factors, development platforms, and operating system enhancements. Several projects are ongoing in my group; two major ones are focused on zero-latency, “high performance” user experiences, and on the enablement of a “symphony of devices”.
High Performance UX: the ultimate aim of ubiquitous computing is to seamlessly blend the physical and digital worlds. One of the primary barriers to achieving this is latency: the time between an input to the system, and its response to that input. Latency impairs performance, adds frustration, causes “cyber sickness”, and in general is a sign of low-quality. Our aim is to purge all systems of latency. We began by examining the psychophysics of latency perception and its impacts on human performance, which gave us a baseline target for our systems (2ms – 50 times faster than is typical today). To achieve this, we have developed software tools, re-architected OS input processing, built models of human movement to enable prediction, and have developed sensors capable of detecting input 3 orders of magnitude more quickly than current commercial devices. This project continues in several directions within the group here at U of T. It also has spun-out as a startup company, Tactual Labs, which is seeking to commercialize the work.
Symphony of Devices: The Internet of Things promises a future in which devices can be always connected, and tied-in to your personal cloud. The present manifestation of this is a series of technologies which allow people to switch between devices: watch a movie on your phone, and push a button to move it to the TV. This is a terrible waste. Why not enable user experiences to seamlessly expand to take advantage of all of the technologies in a space? Symphony of Devices is an examination of how user experiences of the future will exist between devices, rather than run on a particular platform or device. This project has spanned many years, and has included in-situ study of users, the development of unique user interface technologies, and the creation of a platform which enables applications to grow and shrink to any configuration of devices available to it. Recently, two of the papers from this project (Panelrama, which describes our platform, and Duet, which describes interaction methods) were chosen as People’s Choice Best Talks at CHI 2014, and Duet was chosen as a Best Paper.