Published: May 1, 2020

Drawing of human head with equations and numbers inside and outside. 

Helping robots behave tactfully in group situations, pinpointing ways social media can avoid reminding the bereaved of their losses, blending modern technology with ancient weaving practices to improve smart textiles, encouraging visually impaired children and sighted family members to learn Braille together through tangible blocks and computer games—these are some of the topics covered in the nine papers and two workshops by researchers at CU Boulder’s ATLAS Institute that were accepted to CHI 2020, the world’s preeminent conference for the field of human-computer interaction. 

Like so many other events, CHI 2020, also known as ACM’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, isn’t taking place this year, but the proceedings are published and faculty and students remain tremendously proud of their contributions. Commenting on their work, ATLAS Director Mark Gross said, “The interactions we all have with hardware and software range from the absurd to the sublime. The field of human-computer interaction has more impact today than ever before, and ATLAS students and faculty are contributing at the highest levels. I’m immensely proud of this work.”

Researchers in the Unstable Design Lab authored a remarkable four of the nine papers admitted to the conference, two of which earned honorable mention, an accolade reserved for the top 5 percent of accepted conference papers. The THING, Superhuman Computing, Living Matter, ACME and IRON labs also had papers accepted to the conference. 

"Each of these papers is unique and forward-thinking," said Laura Devendorf, director of the Unstable Design Lab, of the researchers' papers. "They show new ways of both designing, engaging, but also recycling wearable tech devices. They not only present interesting design work, but present it in a way that ties in theories and practices from inside and outside our research community: from design for disassembly to ASMR channels on YouTube."

CHI 2020 was scheduled to take place April 25 – 30, in Hawaii. “I’m particularly disappointed for our students. It’s a big opportunity for them and their careers to get that kind of exposure,” said Devendorf.

In all, CHI 2020 received 3,126 submissions and accepted 760. In 2019, CHI accepted five ATLAS papers, including three from the Unstable Design Lab and two from the Superhuman Computing Lab.

CHI 2020 papers, position papers and workshops by ATLAS faculty and students2020 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems logo

Unstable Design Lab

Craftspeople as Technical Collaborators: Lessons Learned through an Experimental Weaving Residency [Honorable Mention Award]
Laura Devendorf (ATLAS/INFO Faculty), Katya Arquilla (Aerospace PhD Student), Sandra Wirtanen,  Allison Anderson (Aerospace Faculty), Steven Frost (Media Studies Faculty) 
By broadening the idea of who and what is considered “technical,” this paper examines the ways HCI practitioners, engineers and craftspeople can productively collaborate. 

Making Design Memoirs: Understanding and Honoring Difficult Experiences [Honorable Mention Award]
Laura Devendorf (ATLAS/INFO) Faculty), Kristina Andersen, Aisling Kelliher
How can we design for difficult emotional experiences without reducing a person’s experience? In this paper three researchers design objects that illustrate their personal experiences as mothers to gain a deeper understanding of their individual struggles.

Unfabricate: Designing Smart Fabrics for Disassembly  
Shanel Wu (ATLAS), Laura Devendorf (ATLAS/INFO)
Being mindful of the massive waste streams for digital electronics and textiles, HCI researchers address sustainability and waste in smart textiles development through designing smart textile garments with reuse in mind.

What HCI Can Learn from ASMR: Becoming Enchanted with the Mundane  
Josephine Klefeker (ATLAS, TAM undergraduate), Libi Striegl (Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance), Laura Devendorf (ATLAS/INFO)
Researchers introduced the online subculture of
autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos, showing people slowly interacting with objects and whispering into microphones and triggering a tingling bodily sensation in viewers and listeners, as a source of inspiration for wearables and experiences of enchantment, to cultivate deeper connections with our mundane and everyday environments.


Comparing F-Formations between Humans and On-Screen Agents  
Hooman Hedayati (PhD student, Computer Science), James Kennedy, Daniel Szafir
While humans most often learn to interpret social situations and adjust their behavior accordingly, robots must be programmed to do so. This paper explores ways for robots to detect and predict the position of individuals in human conversational groups in order to more fluidly interact and participate in a conversation with them. More information


RoomShift: Room-scale Dynamic Haptics for VR with Furniture-moving Swarm Robots
Ryo Suzuki, Hooman Hedayati, (both PhD student, CS), Clement Zheng (ATLAS PhD candidate), James Bohn (undergraduate, CS), Daniel Szafir, Ellen Yi-Luen Do, Mark D. Gross, Daniel Leithinger (all ATLAS faculty)
With applications in virtual tours and architectural design, this project dynamically synchronizes virtual reality with the physical environments by rearranging objects using a small swarm of robots able to elevate and relocate tables, chairs and other objects. When users can sit on, lean against, touch and otherwise interact with objects in a virtual scene, it provides more a fuller immersion in the virtual world than purely visual VR. More information

Living Matter Lab 

Semina Aeternitatis: Using Bacteria for Tangible Interaction with Data
Mirela Alistar (ATLAS), Margherita Pevere
An exploration of the potential of DNA molecules to enable new ways for humans to interact with their stories and memories via a physical interface. The project involved encoding an elderly woman's written memories into precisely sequenced DNA and then splicing the code into the genome of a microorganism. The transformed bacteria then replicated, creating billions of facsimiles of the woman's memories. The resulting biofilm was presented in an exhibition as a sculpture. (CHI '20: Extended Abstracts)

Superhuman Computing Lab 

BrailleBlocks: Computational Braille Toys for Collaborative Learning
Vinitha Gadiraju, Annika Muehlbradt, and Shaun K. Kane (ATLAS/CS)
BrailleBlocks tactile gaming system encourages visually impaired children and their sighted family members to learn Braille together through tangible blocks and pegs and an iPad application with interactive educational games. More information.

ATLAS PhD Student in External Labs

Experiences of Trust in Postmortem Profile Management
Katie Z. Gach (ATLAS PhD Student), Jed Brubaker (INFO Faculty)
Managing Facebook pages for loved ones after their death is fraught with difficulty, according to this paper. While Facebook has created the ability for users to appoint post-mortem managers, called legacy contacts, Facebook gives them limited authority over the content, making them feel distrusted by the social network (Published in Transactions on Social Computing, invited for presentation at CHI 2020)

Workshops Organized

Embracing Uncertainty in HCI
Robert Soden (ATLAS alumnus), Laura Devendorf (ATLAS/INFO faculty), Richmond Y. Wong, Lydia B. Chilton, Ann Light, Yoko Akama
This workshop explores the many ways uncertainty appears in research and the different types of responses that HCI has to offer. Outcomes of the workshop include exercises designed to evoke uncertainty in participants, concept mappings and a collection of essays developed by participants.

Asian CHI Symposium: HCI Research from Asia and on Asian Contexts and Cultures 
Ellen Yi-Luen Do (ATLAS faculty) among many others listed here
This symposium showcases the latest HCI work from Asia and those focusing on incorporating Asian sociocultural factors in their design and implementation. In addition to circulating ideas and envisioning future research in human-computer interaction, this symposium aims to foster social networks among researchers and practitioners and grow the Asian research community.

Workshop Papers

Toward Effective Multimodal Interaction in Augmented Reality
Matt Whitlock (CS student), Daniel Leithinger (ATLAS faculty), Danielle Albers Szafir (ATLAS faculty/INFO affiliate faculty)
This paper on envisioning future productivity for immersive analytics was accepted to the Immersive Analytics workshop at CHI 2020.

Virtual and Augmented Reality for Public Safety
Cassandra Goodby (CTD student)
This paper explores potential applications of AR and VR technologies, haptics and voice recognition for first-responders. It was accepted to the Everyday Proxy Objects for Virtual Reality workshop at CHI 2020.

Mental Health Survey and Synthesis
Cassandra Goodby (CTD student)
This paper on tools and technologies available through mental health applications was accepted to the Technology Ecosystems: Rethinking Resources for Mental Health workshop at CHI 2020.