UW, iSchool dominate CHI awards

The UW Information School and its collaborators dominated the awards given to the best submissions at this year's CHI, the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. The iSchool and its collaborators garnered two Best Paper awards and three Honorable Mention awards. CHI is the largest international conference for researchers and practitioners in the area of Human-Computer Interaction and Design (HCI).

The overall submission acceptance rate at CHI this year was 26 percent. Remarkably, the UW iSchool had 16 of 29, or 55 percent of its papers accepted. Assistant professor Jacob O. Wobbrock had 8 of 10 papers accepted. The University of Washington also did well, with 35 of 57 (61 percent) of papers accepted. The top one percent of all submitted papers (1540 this year) receive Best Paper awards. Honorable Mentions represent the top five percent of submissions.

Best Paper Awards went to:

  • Ph.D. student Shaun Kane and faculty members Jacob O. Wobbrock and Richard Ladner (Department of Computer Science & Engineering) for "Usable Gestures for Blind People: Understanding Preference and Performance"
  • Ph.D. student Kristen Shinohara and Wobbrock for their paper "In the Shadow of Misperception: Assistive Technology Use and Social Interactions"

Honorable Mention Awards went to:

  • Ph.D. student Jeff Huang with affiliate faculty member Susan Dumais and Ryen White of Microsoft Research for "No Clicks, No Problem: Using Cursor Movements to Understand and Improve Search"
  • "Typing on Flat Glass: Examining Ten-Finger Expert Typing Patterns on Touch Surfaces" by postdoctoral fellow Leah Findlater with Wobbrock and Daniel Wigdor of Microsoft Research
  • and another paper by Wobbrock with Findlater, Darren Gergle (Northwestern) and James Higgins (Kansas State), "The Aligned Rank Transform for Nonparametric Factorial Analyses Using Only ANOVA Procedures"

Wobbrock and his lab's performance was particularly remarkable: five papers and three notes accepted, and among them, two best papers and two honorable mentions. Dr. Wobbrock now owns five career CHI best papers, more than anyone in the world.

Of the thirteen Best Paper awards, only two were on accessibility, both from the UW iSchool. Their work reflects two different perspectives on accessibility - the technical (interaction and interface design) and the qualitative and conceptual.

The more technical paper from Kane, Wobbrock, and Ladner, who have become world experts on the accessibility of touch screens, presents research on blind and sighted users' performance using gestures on touch screens. It compared users' preference and performance characteristics to guide the design of future accessible touch screen user interfaces. This work supports better collaboration between all users on increasingly ubiquitous touch screens.

The paper from Shinohara and Wobbrock examines how the design of assistive technology affects access and use. Their research shows how the goal of greater accessibility can be undermined by product designs that are well behind the aesthetic curve of mass-market consumer products.

Charlotte Lee, who holds appointments in the Department of Human-Centered Design and Engineering and the iSchool, also won an honorable mention as co-author (with Alexander Thayer, Linda Hwang, Heidi Sales, Pausali Sen, and Ninad Dalal of the UW) on "The Imposition and Superimposition of Digital Reading Technology: The Academic Potential of E-readers," which presents results from a longitudinal qualitative study of students' integration of e-readers into academic reading practice.

All told, 12 papers by UW authors received awards at CHI this year, the most of any academic institution. UW iSchool partners and funders have included Intel Research, Microsoft Research and the National Science Foundation. The strength of the local HCI community is reflected by the number of contributions from the Pacific Northwest to garner awards, by far more than any other geographic region.

For more information about CHI, visit www.chi2011.org.