Another successful HCI All Hands Day

by Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Martin Halvey, SICSA HCI Research Theme Leaders

The SICSA HCI All Hands day was held on Tuesday November 29th at the University of St Andrews. This is an annual event where members  of the the SICSA HCI theme meet to reflect on the previous year and to discuss how to move forward for the following year. The event was a sell out and was attended by approximately 60 participants from across SICSA institutions.

Prior to the event beginning the SACHI research group in St Andrews hosted a pre-event reception and open lab session where they demonstrated some of their innovative demos.

The main meeting was bookended by two keynote talks. The opening keynote entitled “Amplifying the Mind with Digital Tools: Technologies to Enhance Human Perception and Cognition” was given by Professor Albrecht Schmidt, University of Stuttgart. This talk focussed on how digital tools can provide us with entirely new opportunities to enhance the perceptual and cognitive abilities of humans, and the interesting research problems that arise. The closing keynote entitled “Open Data Islands and Communities: How do we make digital technology serve those at physical and social margins of society?” was given by Professor Alan Dix, University of Birmingham. Alan’s talk focused particularly on open data, how we can devise ways to make it more easily found, accessed, and visualised by small communities at the edges, and moreover how they can become active creators of information: producers not merely subjects of data.

During the day we had a town hall meeting to discuss future directions for the SICSA HCI theme. One of the outcomes from this was a list of potential future events for the HCI theme over the next year. We also had a madness presentation session, each research group attending was allowed 3 minutes to present an overview of their research group. In total close to 20 groups from most SICSA universities were represented. This was a useful exercise to raise awareness of different groups and capabilities across Scotland. The variety of topics and approaches to research (from practical and industry-oriented to more abstract and fundamental research) was an eye-opener.

Over lunch we had a presentation from and discussion with the new SIGCHI UK chapter. SIGCHI is the ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer–Human Interaction, and is considered one of the world’s leading organisations. The aim was to raise awareness of the new UK chapter and also discuss the potential for SICSA HCI and SIGCHI UK to help each other. SIGCHI UK also sponsored a social event at the end of the All Hands meeting, the fruitful discussions that started over coffee and lunch during the day were thus able to continue later on in the pub.

Overall this was an extremely successful and well attended event. The SICSA HCI community has been strong for a long time, and this was obvious at the meeting.