Showing posts from January, 2006

HCII Twelfth Anniversary!

HCII 12th Anniversary Celebration
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Carnegie Mellon has been at the forefront of human computer interaction research since the field's inception. The early book by CMU professor Allen Newell and CMU alumni Stu Card and Tom Moran coined the field’s name in the early 1980s. We created the first Human-Computer Interaction Institute in 1994.

Help us celebrate 12 years of HCI Institute progress by attending a one-day seminar with distinguished speakers from the HCI community followed by the 50th Anniversary of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon! You are welcome to join all events, including the Spring Carnival festivities!


Can we use Massively Multiplayer Games for Good?

Note: This is a rant I wrote back in 2003 or so and had at my home page at Berkeley. I'm putting it up on my blog now since my old home page is no longer there. I've made some updates to the original, with additional updates at the bottom.

This is going to be a lengthy but serious discussion of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). I wrote this after talking with Jen Mankoff (a fellow professor here at CMU), and after reading this article on the New York Times about how this person spends 7+ hours a day online playing a single game, having racked up 2400+ hours already.

Usually, when I read these kinds of articles about game addicts, I always think, "if only we could use his powers for good!" If only we could make it so that people get more out of games than just fun. If only we could actually get something genuinely useful at the same time (so we don't end up with stories like this one from The Onion).

My canonical example is Crazy Taxi. In thi…

[HCI] Color blindness as an advantage

Very interesting, I would never have thought of it this way. I wonder if there are ways of building information visualization tools along these lines too.

Color blindness is usually classed as a disability; however, in select situations color blind people have advantages over people with normal color vision. Color blind hunters are better at picking out prey against a confusing background, and the military have found that color blind soldiers can sometimes see through camouflage that fools everyone else. Monochromats may have a minor advantage in dark vision, but only in the first five minutes of dark adaptation.


The United States Military has found that color blind individuals can be more easily trained as snipers due to the fact that they are more acutely aware of differences in texture and pattern and thereby less likely to be fooled by camouflage patterns.

[Just Plain Weird] Customer Rewards for MMORPGs

I had a whacky idea today, that these MMORPGs like Everquest and World of Warcraft should have special rewards program that are like frequent flier miles.

Some examples:

Buy products with the Everquest credit card, and get 10 gold pieces per dollar spent
For every dollar you donate to charity, Dark Age of Camelot will give you 100 experience points
For every captcha you help us break, Ultima Online will give you a lottery ticket to get [insert some powerful item]

[Funny][Just Plain Weird] Hong Wars

Last weekend, I came to my office in Newell Simon Hall and found that a small army of action figures were poised to invade. Reminds me a little of Toy Story.

[HCI][Cool] Watch Ed Chi get Kicked

I was digging around my old photos, and found some videos I took at UIST2004 of PARC researcher Ed Chi getting kicked in the stomach. This was part of his demonstration of a SensorHogu he and others helped develop for better scoring in Tae Kwon Do.

Plus, it's just fun to watch Ed get kicked (sorry Ed, it's true!)


Video 1 (5meg avi)
Video 2 (4meg avi)
Video 3 (1meg avi)

Original Paper: Ed H. Chi, Jin Song, Greg Corbin. 'Killer App' of Wearable Computing: Wireless Force Sensing Body Protectors for Martial Arts. In Proc. of 17th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, pp. 277--285. ACM Press, October, 2004. Santa Fe, NM.

[Cool] 10 Architectural Wonders of China

I was expecting things like the Great Wall and the Three Gorges Dam, but it's really about modern buildings.

Check out the Central Chinese Television CCTV building, I can't believe it doesn't fall over. I'd hate to work on the top floor of that building!



Some of our students have organized a wiki about CMU's HCII and Pittsburgh.

Also very useful: the CMU Acronym Secret Decoder Ring

[Design] What Makes Things Cute?

NYTimes article on The Cute Factor.

Scientists who study the evolution of visual signaling have identified a wide and still expanding assortment of features and behaviors that make something look cute: bright forward-facing eyes set low on a big round face, a pair of big round ears, floppy limbs and a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait, among many others.

Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can't lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire.


Whatever needs pitching, cute can help. A recent study at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the University of Michigan showed that high school students were far more likely to believe antismoking messages accompanied by cute cartoon characters…