Blue bear from CHI conference centre

CHI 2017

The Birmingham HCI Centre was involved in multiple activities at CHI'17, including papers, CHI Remix, alt.chi, workshops, courses, late breaking work, SIGS and the Student Research Competition.

This page provides further details and links to related resources.

Thank you to everyone who engaged in our work.


A Cognitive Model of How People Make Decisions Through Interaction with Visual Displays

Professor Andrew Howes presented this paper, which received an Honorable Mention.

Abstract: In this paper we report a cognitive model of how people make decisions through interaction. The model is based on the assumption that interaction for decision making is an example of a Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (POMDP) in which observations are made by limited perceptual systems that model human foveated vision and decisions are made by strategies that are adapted to the task. We illustrate the model by applying it to the task of determining whether to block a credit card given a number of variables including the location of a transaction, its amount, and the customer history. Each of these variables have a different validity and users may weight them accordingly. The model solves the POMDP by learning patterns of eye movements (strategies) adapted to different presentations of the data. We compare the model behavior to human performance on the credit card transaction task.

Xiuli Chen, Sandra Dorothee Starke, Chris Baber, and Andrew Howes. 2017. A Cognitive Model of How People Make Decisions Through Interaction with Visual Displays. CHI'17, 1205–1216. Paper | Slides.

Andrew was also an author on the following papers:

  • Antti Kangasrääsiö, Kumaripaba Athukorala, Andrew Howes, Jukka Corander, Samuel Kaski, and Antti Oulasvirta. 2017. Inferring Cognitive Models from Data using Approximate Bayesian Computation. CHI'17, 1295–1306. Paper.
  • Wanyu Liu, Gilles Bailly, and Andrew Howes. 2017. Effects of Frequency Distribution on Linear Menu Performance. CHI'17, 1307–1312. Paper.

CHI Remix

Studying Studying – Academic Life as the Subject of Commercial Research

Professor Alan Dix, who was elected a member of the SIGCHI Academy in 2013, presented his CHI Remix paper.

Abstract: This paper offers a personal view on the interplay between the multiple roles of academic and commercial researcher and classroom teacher. A series of vignettes expose a variety of lessons. Some of the vignettes are about the way that being an educator of human-computer interaction has informed my practice as an academic researcher about HCI. Some are about the different ethical expectations when using educational practice as part of commercial research as opposed to academic research. We also see how the inside knowledge of being a practitioner researcher offers unique insights into rich data and how product orientation can expose gaps in research, surprisingly not so different from the way that teaching students does: with neither developers nor students can you hide fuzzy thinking behind long words. While there are conflicts that need to be carefully managed, both academic and commercial research have powerful synergies with educational practice.

Alan Dix. 2017. Studying Studying – Academic Life as the Subject of Commercial Research. CHI'17 EA. ACM. 1030-1036.
doi: 10.1145/3027063.3053685 | Slides, links and draft paper | Video


Crisps and alt.chi award

The Anti-Influence Engine: Escaping the Diabolical Machine of Pervasive Advertising

Charlie Pinder received an alt.CHI best paper "Best Provocation Award" for her paper. Both the paper and her talk featured crisps quite strongly.

Abstract: This paper aims to stimulate discussion about the need for and possible incarnations of anti-advert technology. Advertisers are increasingly using pervasive and nonconscious routes to emotionally manipulate people. HCI researchers have yet to provide the tools to counter these unwanted influences. My paper outlines a design fiction solution, the Anti-Influence Engine: a distributed system that returns to users the power over their own associative memories. The Engine gathers advert-exposure information, and offers users multiple ways to counteract emotionally manipulative ads. Design and ethical issues are discussed.

Charlie Pinder. 2017. The Anti-Influence Engine: Escaping the Diabolical Machine of Pervasive Advertising. CHI'17 EA. ACM.
doi: 10.1145/3027063.3052762. Paper | extended author's version | Slides (with crisps!)


Rowanne Fleck helped organise the Quantified Data & Social Relationships workshop and presented her Life Swap paper.

Abstract: Collecting and sharing personal data offers greatpotential to support people in reflecting on the impactof communications technology on our ability to successfully manage our work-life balance. We conducted a series of ‘Life-Swap’ workshops where people brought along and discussed data they had collected, sharing their own difficulties and personal approaches to managing this balance. An initial look at how these conversations unfolded around the different types of data suggests ways in which sharing data can support participants' understanding of their data, eachother and themselves. We make some suggestions about how different types of data might best be used to support this process, and discuss the potential of such discussions to provide researchers with valuable insights into research topics of interest.

Rowanne Fleck & Anya Skatova. 2017. Life Swap: Swapping Life Experiences Through Data Conversations. Presented in the Quantified Data & Social Relationships Workshop, CHI 2017.
Workshop page | Workshop call paper | Life-swap paper

Alan Dix participated in the Moving Transparent Statistics Forward working workshop to develop concrete guidelines for improving statistical practice in HCI. He presented his Making HCI statistics better: saving the baby paper.

Abstract: I have long had a concern over the state of statistics in HCI, so welcome a chance to be part of this workshop. I will have a special interest in advancing statistical literacy and sharing of data and meta-data.

Position paper and links

Alan Dix. 2017. Making HCI statistics better: saving the baby. Presented in the Moving Transparent Statistics Forward workshop, CHI 2017.

Alan also participated in the Values in Computing workshop which explored how to give more exposure to less-frequently-considered values in computing. He presented his paper Where are the values? Locating and reasoning 25 years on.

Abstract: The author's work in the early 1990s identified issues of privacy and bias in complex data processing and black-box machine learning algorithms. Although some of these have taken time to emerge, they are now major societal issues. This early work has direct lessons, but also suggests that we need to look widely in the way computer systems are designed, produced and deployed to understand the way values become embedded in code. In addition we need new ways to reason about values, both in code and society at large.

This workshop resulted in the Denver Manifesto on Values in Computing, available to read and sign.

Alan Dix. 2017.Where are the values? Locating and reasoning 25 years on. Presented in the Values in Computing workshop, CHI 2017.

Paper and links


Making Sense of Statistics in HCI: From P to Bayes and Beyond

Alan Dix (enthusiastically) presented a course on statistics, which a participant reviewed as "the most entertaining course on statistics I've ever attended".

Abstract: Many find statistics confusing, and perhaps more so given recent publicity of problems with traditional p-values and alternative statistical techniques including confidence intervals and Bayesian statistics. This course aims to help attendees navigate this morass: to understand the debates and more importantly make appropriate choices when designing and analysing experiments, empirical studies and other forms of quantitative data.

Alan Dix. 2017. Making Sense of Statistics in HCI: From P to Bayes and Beyond. CHI'17 EA. ACM.
ACM 978-1-4503-4656-6/17/05.
doi: 10.1145/3027063.3027109 | full course website | Video

Understanding People: A Course on Qualitative and Quantitative HCI Research Methods

Sandy Gould helped present a course on Research Methods for HCI, exploring methods to understand people and interactional contexts.

Duncan P. Brumby, Ann Blandford, Anna L. Cox, Sandy J. J. Gould, and Paul Marshall. 2017. Understanding People: A Course on Qualitative and Quantitative HCI Research Methods. CHI'17 EA.
DOI: 10.1145/3027063.3027103 | Course website

Late Breaking Work

Using Nature-based Soundscapes to Support Task Performance and Mood

Abstract: Smartphone apps that enable workers to listen to nature soundscapes are increasingly popular. There is, however, little evidence that these soundscapes have the effects that they claim to have. Previous research exploring the effect of listening to background music during tasks has shown that while such music may have a positive effect on emotional state, it can disrupt reading and memory-based tasks. This paper explores the effects of nature soundscapes on mood and performance. A diary study of the use of soundscapes whilst studying suggests that students view such soundscapes as: aiding focus whilst studying; creating feelings of calm and peace; helping to manage stress and anxiety; and hiding distracting sounds. A second study -- an experiment -- investigated the effects of nature soundscapes on mood and performance. Whilst we found no effect of soundscapes on mood and arousal during the task, our results demonstrate that high acoustic variation in a soundscape may cause a disruption to serial recall tasks. The implications of our findings suggest that nature soundscapes with high acoustic variation may be detrimental to task performance compared to working in silence for serial based thinking tasks.

Joseph W. Newbold, Jacob Luton, Anna L. Cox, and Sandy J. J. Gould. 2017. Using Nature-based Soundscapes to Support Task Performance and Mood. CHI'17 EA. ACM.
doi: 110.1145/3027063.3053214

Sensebelt poster
SenseBelt: a belt-worn sensor to support cross-device interaction

We were delighted to see our former student Alexandros and former colleagues Jo and Lindsay presenting Sensebelt.

Abstract: Mobile interaction is shifting from a single device to simultaneous interaction with ensembles of devices such as phones, tablets, or watches. Spatially-aware cross-device interaction between mobile devices typically requires a fixed tracking infrastructure, which limits mobility. In this paper, we present SenseBelt -- a sensing belt that enhances existing mobile interactions and enables low-cost, ad hoc sensing of cross-device gestures and interactions. SenseBelt enables proxemic interactions between people and their personal devices. SenseBelt also supports cross-device interaction between personal devices and stationary devices, such as public displays. We discuss the design and implementation of SenseBelt together with possible applications. With an initial evaluation, we provide insights into the benefits and drawbacks of a belt-worn mediating sensor to support cross-device interactions.

Alexandros Stylianidis, Jo Vermeulen, Steven Houben, Lindsay MacDonald, and Russell Beale. 2017. SenseBelt: a belt-worn sensor to support cross-device interaction. CHI'17 EA. ACM.
doi: 10.1145/3027063.3053135 | Paper | Video

Are you ready for a drive? User perspectives on autonomous vehicles

Abstract: In this paper, we present preliminary results of a user research study investigating factors with high potential impact on user experience (UX) of autonomous vehicles (AVs). The study was conducted in Singapore with 29 participants in 10 sessions, each one lasting around 2 hours. Participants conveyed their requirements verbally, as well as visually through sketching. The extensive rounds of discussions revealed an underlying trend of general mistrust towards AVs expressed in three requirement categories concerning: safety, empowerment and interaction style. In response to these requirements, designers need to ensure the vehicle's reliability is "expressed" in users' "language", passengers are allowed to have some decision power during navigation (despite the car being autonomous) and are able to interact with the AV in a flexible, easy and straightforward manner. We believe such design decisions would be beneficial to generate more trust towards AVs and improve the overall UX.

Andreea I. Niculescu, Alan Dix, and Kheng Hui Yeo. 2017. Are you ready for a drive? User perspectives on autonomous vehicles. CHI'17 EA. ACM.
doi: 10.1145/3027063.3053182 | Video


Alan Dix participated in the CHI Outside SIG with his Walking (a long way) account of his 2013 1,000 mile walk around Wales.

Abstract: The author's one thousand mile walk around Wales in 2013 created a substantial open-science dataset, which is of potential benefit to many working on the impact of outdoor activities and health. It also gave rise to observational data that highlights some of the barriers to exercise for those who often most need it, and especially some of the socio-economic hurdles.

Alan Dix. 2017. Walking (a long way). CHI Outside - Interactive Computing in Outdoor Recreation, CHI2017 Special Interest Group

Position paper, slides and link

Student Research Competition

Nonconscious behaviour change poster
Nonconscious Behaviour Change Technology: Targeting The Automatic

Charlie Pinder presented her research at the Student Research Competition.

Abstract: My research focuses on the use of technology to directly target nonconscious processes to drive behaviour change. It is rooted in habit and dual process theories, and explores the transfer of psychology techniques from labs to smartphones. This paper outlines a set of related experiments and surveys exploring subliminal priming, implementation intentions and cognitive bias modification as potential nonconscious interventions to change behaviour.

Charlie Pinder. 2017. Nonconscious Behaviour Change Technology: Targeting The Automatic. CHI'17 EA. ACM. 160-165.

doi: 10.1145/3027063.3048426 | Paper | Larger poster