Student Rahul Arora Awarded by U of T Libraries Graduate Student Exhibition

Rahul Arora, a PhD candidate and current DGP student, was awarded at this year’s U of T Libraries Graduate Student Exhibition Competition. His work titled “User-Centric Structural Optimization in Three Dimensions” is on display on the first floor of Robarts Library through the month of February.

Of his research, Arora explains, “We wanted to build a structural optimization method which helped users control optimized structures intuitively and efficiently. For this purpose, we built a novel truss-optimization algorithm inspired by hexahedral meshing research in the geometry processing community. While the algorithm itself is an end goal, the hope is that out work also inspires more research into improving the end-user experience for computational structural optimziation tools.”

Arora holding his award in front of his exhibit (photo by Paul Terefenko/University of Toronto Libraries)
Arora has given a short technical talk about his research.

For more information about the exhibit, Arora has provided a link to his research:

To find out more about previous publications and work that Arora has done, please visit his website:

UofT News has a write up here:

UofT Libraries has another write up here:

DGP Talk: Quo Vadis Mixed Reality?

We are delighted to welcome Prof. Otmar Hilliges from ETH Zurich to talk about his recent research about Virtual and Mixed Reality.


Quo Vadis Augmented Reality?


Virtual and Mixed Reality (XR) holds the promise to significantly change the ways we interact with digital information. Despite much progress from both research and industry there are still many challenges to be mastered before XR can become a mainstream interaction paradigm. In this talk I will review where we are as a field, outline some of the challenges ahead and talk about some of the recent research from our lab in this space. In particular, I will discuss new ways to capture rich user input, including full-body pose and detailed hand pose configurations without the need for environment mounted cameras or other tracking systems, enabling rich sensing of human activities in on-the-go scenarios. In the second half of the talk I will discuss novel light-weight approaches to haptic feedback for XR and adaptive UIs that control what information to display where, depending on the user’s internal state.


Otmar Hilliges is currently an Associate Professor of computer science at ETH Zurich, where he leads the AIT lab. His research is at the intersection of machine learning, computer vision and human computer interaction (HCI). The main mission is to develop new ways for humans to interact with complex interactive systems (computers, wearables, robots), powered by advanced algorithms and technologies in machine perception, planning and data driven user modelling. Prior to joining ETH he was a Researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge (2010-2013). His Diplom (equiv. MSc) in Computer Science is from Technische Universität München, Germany (2004) and his PhD in Computer Science from LMU München, Germany (2009). He spent two years as a postdoc at Microsoft Research Cambridge (2010-2012). He has published more than 70 peer-reviewed papers in the major venues on computer vision, HCI and computer graphics and received an ERC starting grant in 2017 for computational approaches to sensing based human-computer interfaces. Finally, 20+ patents have been filed in his name on a variety of subjects from surface reconstruction to AR/VR.

Third Oscar for Jos Stam

Jos Stam, DGP graduate and adjunct professor, has won his third Oscar for his work on subdivision surfaces at the Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards. U of T News has a write-up here:

Upcoming Tux Talk By Ron Baecker on 27th March, 2018

Ron Baecker:

AI Deployments Accelerate Without Sufficient Intelligence: Opportunities for HCI Research

2018-03-27 12:30 at DGP: BCIT, 5th Floor


After 35 years of ups and downs, AI finally achieved in the last two decades triumphs over the worlds best humans in chess, Jeopardy, Go, and poker.  Accelerating advances in deep leaning technology now bring actual or promised deployments in speech and face recognition, judgments of human potential, medical image processing, driverless cars, and automated warfare.  But are these systems truly intelligent?b Replacing simplistic definitions of intelligence with the more nuanced descriptions of Sternberg and Gardner suggests that the answer is no. Thinking about what we should expect of intelligent agents, we must acknowledge the lack of algorithms that can explain the logic behind their actions so that we can understand their behaviour.  This is required so that we can trust them, delegate responsibility for actions and accountability for errors, and expect their decisions that are just.  Removing these limitations will require a healthy dose of HCI research and user experience innovation.  My goal with this talk is to encourage audience members to work on these issues.

Note: Ideas in this lecture are based in part on Chapter 11 of the forthcoming text: Computers and Society: Modern Perspectives, by Ronald M. Baecker, Oxford University Press, 2019.


Ronald Baecker is Director of the Technologies for Aging Gracefully Laboratory  (TAGlab), Professor of Computer Science, and Bell Universities Laboratories Chair in Human-Computer Interaction.

The focus of TAGlab activities is R&D in support of aging throughout the life course including cognition, communication, and social interaction. Collaborators include individuals from Baycrest, Columbia Medical School, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

He is also Affiliate Scientist with the  Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit  of  Baycrest  (formerly, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care), Adjunct Scientist with  Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and founder of the  Knowledge Media Design Instituteat the  University of Toronto. He has been named one of the 60 Pioneers of Computer Graphics by ACM SIGGRAPH, has been elected to the  CHI Academy  by ACM SIGCHI, and has been given the  Canadian Human Computer Communications Society Achievement Award  in May 2005. His B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. are from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor Baecker is an active researcher, lecturer, and consultant on human-computer interaction and user interface design, user support, software visualization, multimedia, computer-supported cooperative work and learning, the Internet, entrepreneurship and strategic planning in the software industry, and the role of information technology in business. He has published over 175 papers and articles on topics in these areas. He is also the author or co-author of two published videotapes and of four books:

  • Reading in Human-Computer Interaction: A Multidisciplinary Approach,
  • Human Factors in Typography for More Readable Programs ,
  • Readings in Groupware and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work: Facilitating Human-Human Collabortation , and
  • Reading in Human-Computer Interaction: Towards the Year 2000 .

He is the co-holder of 2 patents. Professor Baecker was the founder, CEO, and Chairman of HCR Corporation, a Toronto-based UNIX contract R&D and technology development and marketing firm, sold in 1990 to a U.S. competitor.   He was also the founder of Expresto Software Corp, a firm specializing in structured visual communication explaining software and other complex technology. Expresto Software was sold in 2002 to Caseware International.   Another entrepreneurial venture was a virtual non-profit foundation within the University of Toronto to distribute and support the open source  ePresence Interactive Media  rich media webcasting and archiving system, which then led to the formation of a start-up delivering ePresence products, services, and solutions, recently sold to Desire2Learn. Most recently, he was instrumental in the founding of  MyVoice.

More information about the 2017/2018 Tux presentation series is available on the official Tux website.

Upcoming Tux Talk By Marcelo Coelho on 13th March, 2018

Marcelo Coelho: Materializing Interaction

2018-03-13 12:30 at MaRS


As technology advances and we progress towards a world imbued with computation, how will we create programmable objects and spaces that are responsive and can take full advantage of our senses?

In this talk, Marcelo Coelho will present his design and research practice, and how the capabilities of computers and materials can be intertwined to create new aesthetic experiences. He will present examples of wearables, interactive installations, live performances, and nano- to stadium-sized sculptures, which present new opportunities and challenges in design, fabrication, and assembly. 


Marcelo Coelho is a Brazilian/American computation designer working on objects, installations, and live experiences. Spanning a wide range of media, processes, and scales, his work explores the boundaries between matter and information, fundamentally expanding and enhancing the ways in which we interact and communicate. Marcelos creative work has been exhibited internationally, including places such as the Rio 2016 Paralympics Ceremonies, Ars Electronica, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and Design Miami, and can be found in private collections including the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art and The Rothschild Collection. Recognition for his work include two Prix Ars Electronica awards, VIDA 16.0 Award, and the W Hotels Designer of the Future Award. In addition to his practice, Marcelo is also a Lecturer at the MIT Department of Architecture and Head of Design at Formlabs. Prior to his practice, Marcelo Coelho received a Doctorate in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab.

More information about the 2017/2018 Tux presentation series is available on the official Tux website.

Upcoming Tux Talk By Ishtiaque Ahmed and Fanny Chevalier on 27th Feb, 2018

Ishtiaque Ahmed and Fanny Chevalier:
“Designing for Voice” and “Make our society think again: Cultivating critical thinking through visualization education”

2018-02-27 12:30 at DGP: BCIT, 5th Floor




Ishtiaque Ahmed


Voice refers to a person’s ability to express their rightful opinions. This has long been a central concern for many sociologists, political scientists, and human- right activists, among others. Voice has also got the attention of the Computer Scientists, especially of some researchers of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD), in recent years, and various computing systems have been built to help people raise their voices in various contexts. However, the core challenges for designing appropriate computing technologies to support the voices of marginalized communities have mostly been unexplored. In this talk, I will be presenting my work in Bangladesh and India on studying and designing computing technologies for ‘access’, ‘freedom’, ‘infrastructure’, and ‘visibility’ which constitute the idea of ‘voice’. 


Dr. Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He leads the “Third Space” research group here. 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 research is situated in Bangladesh and India, where he has had conducted ethnography and design with many underprivileged communities including readymade garments factory workers, evicted slum dwellers, rickshaw drivers, mobile phone repairers, and victims of sexual harassment. His work often engages with postcolonial computing, infrastructural politics, feminist HCI, and subaltern informatics.

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 started an “Innovation Lab” in Bangladesh to promote grass-root level innovation in Bangladesh. 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. His research has been supported by National Science Foundation of USA, Intel, Microsoft Research, IBM Research, Samsung Research, World Bank, and National Institute of Mental Health of Bangladesh. He also has received multiple awards for his publications including a Best Paper award in ICTD and a Best Paper Honorable Mention Award in ACM CHI.


Fanny Chevalier


Data, “the oil of the digital era”, has came to be the most valuable resource of our modern society. As a scientist, I find it exciting to see news outlets using more and more data graphics to communicate facts, stakeholders increasingly rely on data analytics to gain insight into our world and make informed decisions, and governments increasingly promote and engage in open data. In the meantime, it is also daunting to witness how destructive fake news, rumours and falsehoods can be to a general population poorly prepared to engage in evidence-informed reasoning.

In this talk, I will discuss one of the most important societal challenge of our times: data literacy, defined as the ability to understand, find, collect, interpret, visualize, and support arguments using data. Through a sample of my recent research projects focusing on visualization creation, visual communication and visualization education, I will share my reflections on how we can cultivate an informed citizenry capable of critical thinking, reasoning, and knowledge-based decision making.


Fanny Chevalier is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Statistical Sciences at University of Toronto, where she conducts research in data visualization and human-computer interaction. In particular, she has been interested in methods and tools that support visual analytics and creative activities, with a primary focus on interactive tools for the visual exploration of rich and complex data, visualization education, the design and perception of animated transitions, and sketch-based interfaces. Before joining UofT, she was a Research Scientist at Inria, France, and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Toronto, Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD-U), and Inria-Microsoft joint center in Paris. She obtained her PhD in Computer Science from the Université de Bordeaux. She is the recipient of an Inria grant for scientific excellence (PEDR) and her research papers have received awards at the premier venues in Human-Computer Interaction (ACM CHI, ACM UIST). 


More information about the 2017/2018 Tux presentation series is available on the official Tux website.