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Some highlights of 2015 to date

LitLong Launch | SICSA Medical Imaging and Sensing Theme | Best Paper at CHI 2015
Aaron appointed to Board of ScotlandIS | New Lecturer joining SACHI in June 2015
Miguel, Uta and Per Ola served as Associate Chairs for respective CHI 2015 subcommittees.
4 papers and other works at CHI 2015

Our newsfeed has details of these all these activities and research.

May 28 / Daniel John Rough

June 2nd, seminar by John Stasko: “New Approaches for Information Visualization: Rethinking Existing Notions”

Speaker: John Stasko, Georgia Institute of Technology
Date/Time: 2-3pm June 2, 2015
Location: CS1.33a, University of St Andrews

As the field of information visualization matures, researchers are able to reflect on, and perhaps even question, some long-accepted notions from the area. In this talk, I focus on three such notions:
* Representing network data through force-directed node-link diagrams
* Focusing on visual representation first and foremost
* Evaluating visualizations through user studies and experiments
Although these ideas clearly have value as evidenced by their acceptance and longevity, I have begun to question the wisdom of each. In this talk I’ll explain my concerns about these notions and I’ll suggest a new, alternative approach to each as well. To support these arguments, I will describe a number of research projects from my lab that illustrate and exemplify the new approach.

John received the B.S. degree in Mathematics at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (1983) and Sc.M. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island (1985 and 1989). He joined the faculty at Georgia Tech in 1989, and he is presently a Professor in the School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing. His primary research area is human-computer interaction, with a focus on information visualization and visual analytics. John is a senior member of the ACM and IEEE. He was named an ACM Distinguished Scientist in 2011 and an IEEE Fellow in 2014. He also received the 2012 IEEE VGTC Visualization Technical Achievement Award. In 2013 John served as General Chair of the IEEE VIS conferences in Atlanta, and he was named an Honorary Professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

This seminar is part of our ongoing series from researchers in HCI. See here for our current schedule.

May 26 / David Harris-Birtill

Improving patient care: zero-touch technologies in the clinical environment

We are proud to announce that Dr David Harris-Birtill, leader of the SICSA Medical Imaging theme, is an invited speaker at the Collaboration Technologies and Systems conference (CTS 2015), held in Atlanta, Georgia from 1st – 5th June 2015.

He will be presenting a tutorial entitled ‘Improving patient care: zero-touch technologies in the clinical environment’ on Monday 1st June, which will explore the potential for remote sensing, interactive, and collaborative computational tools for the clinical environment.

Dr David Harris-Birtill

Dr David Harris-Birtill speaking on Medical Imaging

The tutorial will discuss how zero-touch devices can improve interaction in surgical settings and how camera-based technology can be utilised in the clinic to monitor vital signs, speed diagnosis and improve the patient experience. It will cover an overview of how computation is used in the clinic, explaining the technologies used, the clinical workflow and how current scientific research can lead to future improvements in patient care.

The tutorial will also use a worked example, highlighting the uses of the Microsoft Kinect to discuss this technology’s potential, demonstrating how it can be used to collaboratively control selection of medical images in a surgical environment, showcasing its potential to monitor the patient’s heart rate and blood oxygenation level before, during, and after treatment.

Dr Harris-Birtill’s tutorial will cover the following topics:

  • Background and history of technology in medicine.
  • State of the art technology in healthcare, including collaborative and embedded systems.
  • Worked example of gesture-based control, and monitoring of patients using the Microsoft Kinect and related technologies.
May 16 / Daniel John Rough

Wednesday 20th May, seminar by Gorkem Pacaci: Visualizing and writing variable-free compositional relational programs

Visualizing and writing variable-free compositional relational programs.

Speaker: Gorkem Pacaci, Uppsala University
Date/Time: 2-3pm May 20, 2015
Location: JC1.33a, University of St Andrews

Representing argument binding in compositional relational programs is an issue due to the syntactic problems. We first present our former research on using visualization to overcome this problem, and relevant user studies, and go on to discuss our recent work on syntactic improvements in solving the same problem. We are looking forward to feedback on this early stage research.

Gorkem studied his masters degree in Abertay Dundee in Computer Games Technology, delivering a thesis on Optimizing collision detection in games. After working in games for a while, he started studying towards a doctorate degree in Uppsala University, Sweden. His study focuses on the representation of relational programming languages

May 1 / Aaron Quigley

June 26, Andruid Kerne, The Future of Human Expression: Ideation − Play − Body-based Interaction

Speaker: Andruid Kerne, Texas A&M, USA
Date/Time: 2-3pm June 26, 2015
Location: CS1.33a, University of St Andrews


Centuries ago, the technology of movable type vaulted human consciousness and expression from oral performance—improvisational— to writing, fixed by letters and words. The Interface Ecology Lab investigates new technologies that transform human expression. We engage the human body with the digital. We use cloud and web to maximize impact. We investigate how curation, exploration, and body-based interaction support expression and ideation.

Ideation is the generation, expression, and development of new ideas. Curation means to gather, assemble, and annotate content to form exhibits. People perform curation as they engage in information-based ideation tasks, in which content serves as stimulus and support for creativity. We invented information composition, a new, freeform, medium of curation, pushing beyond print’s linearity and hypertext’s text-centricity. We develop the medium of information composition through the cloud-based IdeaMâché system, integrating sketching, writing, clipping, explorable metadata, and zoomable interfaces. IdeaMâché has already been fruitfully used on assignments by 1255 students, spanning 11 course offerings in 5 departments, resulting in 124,478 pageviews.

We investigate body-based interfaces that incorporate diverse sensing modalities, e.g., multi-touch, pen, NFC, depth camera, and accelerometer. We develop body-based interfaces for information composition. We investigate how cross-surface portals promote ideation.

Evaluation of systems that support human expression is challenging. We conduct mixed methods evaluations, connecting qualitative, quantitative, and visual data. Building on decades of creative cognition research, we develop and apply information-based ideation metrics of curation to evaluate IdeaMache. We adapt information-based ideation metrics to measure exploration to evaluate the TweetBubble Twitter extension.

Andruid Kerne is a researcher working at the intersection of science and art to support human creativity and innovation through computing and education. He is associate professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, and director of the Interface Ecology Lab []. Andruid holds a B.A. in applied mathematics / electronic media from Harvard, an M.A. in music composition from Wesleyan, and a Ph.D. in computer science from NYU. He is the papers chair of ACM Creativity and Cognition 2015.

Andruid Kerne’s research has been supported by NSF, Google, Cypress Semiconductor, Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, and the Rockefeller Foundation. The Guggenheim Museum, ACM CHI, UIST, SIGGRAPH, CSCW, JCDL, Multimedia, CIKM, TEI, Creativity and Cognition, EICS, ToCHI, and ToIS, Ars Electronica Center, the Boston CyberArts Festival have presented his output. He serves on program committees such as CHI, JCDL, MM, and TEI. Press coverage spans Time, MSNBC, Discovery News, Popular Science, PC World, New Scientist, Slashdot, Engadget, Gizmodo, and Le Monde. He has directed industry projects and developed systems for NASA JPL, AT&T, The Discovery Channel, Proctor and Gamble, Mitsui, and Boeing.

This seminar is part of our ongoing series from researchers in HCI. See here for our current schedule.

May 1 / Aaron Quigley

May 19, Tom Rodden, On lions, impala, and bigraphs: modelling interactions in Ubiquitous Computing.

On lions, impala, and bigraphs: modelling interactions in Ubiquitous Computing.

Speaker: Tom Rodden, University of Nottingham
Date/Time: 2-3pm May 19, 2015
Location: CS1.33a, University of St Andrews


As ubiquitous systems have moved out of the lab and into the world the need to think more systematically about how there are realised has grown. This talk will present intradisciplinary work I have been engaged in with other computing colleagues on how we might develop more formal models and understanding of ubiquitous computing systems. The formal modelling of computing systems has proved valuable in areas as diverse as reliability, security and robustness. However, the emergence of ubiquitous computing raises new challenges for formal modelling due to their contextual nature and dependence on unreliable sensing systems. In this work we undertook an exploration of modelling an example ubiquitous system called the Savannah game using the approach of bigraphical rewriting systems.


This required an unusual intra-disciplinary dialogue between formal computing and human- computer interaction researchers to model systematically four perspectives on Savannah: computational, physical, human and technical. Each perspective in turn drew upon a range of different modelling traditions. For example, the human perspective built upon previous work on proxemics, which uses physical distance as a means to understand interaction.


In this talk I hope to show how our model explains observed inconsistencies in Savannah and ex- tend it to resolve these. I will then reflect on the need for intradisciplinary work of this form and the importance of the bigraph diagrammatic form to support this form of engagement.


Tom Rodden ( is a Professor of Interactive Computing at the University of Nottingham. His research brings together a range of human and technical disciplines, technologies and techniques to tackle the human, social, ethical and technical challenges involved in ubiquitous computing and the increasing used of personal data. He leads the Mixed Reality Laboratory ( an interdisciplinary research facility that is home of a team of over 40 researchers. He founded and currently co-directs the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute (, a university wide interdisciplinary research centre focusing on ethical use of our growing digital footprint. He has previously directed the EPSRC Equator IRC ( a national interdisciplinary research collaboration exploring the place of digital interaction in our everyday world. He is a fellow of the British Computer Society and the ACM and was elected to the ACM SIGCHI Academy in 2009 (

Apr 30 / Aaron Quigley

May 8th (Workshop) Sketching and Constructing Visualisations: A hands-on introduction to data literacy


Dr Miguel Nacenta and Dr Uta Hinrichs

Friday May 8th, 11:00 to 16:30

School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews
John Honey Building, North Haugh (KY16 9SX)
Open to the SICSA community, the University of St Andrews community
No charge, but limited places.

Please sign up here at Eventbrite

SheelaghCarpendale samuel-huron-profile






Workshop By Prof Sheelagh Carpendale and Dr Samuel Huron

Workshop Focus and Motivation
We are moving into a new era of a data driven society. The collection and use of data abounds in science, industry, government, commerce, and also in our personal lives both at work and socially. Data is being continually collected, and being stored in increasingly massive data warehouses in the expectation of later analysis and use. The common belief is that through this data, we, as a society, can gain new insights and learn how to run our lives, businesses, cities, etc. more efficiently, and effectively. Yet society is increasingly, if only vaguely aware of the volume and variety of data that we are accruing on a daily basis. However, there is a gap, how can data lead to new insight?

To realise even the beginning of the promised potential of this data, we must become data literate. To be an effective data driven society this notion of data literacy must extend beyond the data literacy of a few experts to a wider population. We must each become, at least somewhat, data literate.

To test the waters of what might possibly constitute data literacy exercises, we will hold a workshop based on sketch based visualisation and constructive visualisation on May 8th 2015.

This will be a hands-on workshop where we will conduct exercises on data characterisation, visualisation data sketching, and constructive visualisation. There will be several short talks on basic data visualisation concepts, discussions, sketching sessions and constructive visualisation sessions.

In this workshop you employ the basic visual variables to construct meaningful representations, the dynamic manipulation of spatial positioning to enable spatial reasoning, and through these practices you will become aware of the wide variety of ways that people can think about data.

This workshop is designed for professionals, academics, and anyone with an interest in visualisation and data science. No programming experience required.


Sheelagh Carpendale is a SICSA Distinguished Visiting Fellow to Scotland this May. A Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary where she holds a Canada Research Chair in Information Visualisation and NSERC/AITF/SMART Technologies Industrial Research Chair in Interactive Technologies. She has received many awards including the E.W.R. NSERC STEACIE Memorial Fellowship; a BAFTA (British Academy of Film & Television Arts Interactive Awards); an ASTech Innovations in Technology Award; and the CHCCS Achievement Award. She leads the Innovations in Visualization (InnoVis) research group and initiated interdisciplinary graduate programs in Computational Media Design. Her research on information visualisation, large interactive displays, and new media draws on her background in Computer Science, Art and Design (Simon Fraser University, Emily Carr, Institute of Art and Design, Sheridan College, School of Design). She has found the combined visual arts and computing science background invaluable in her information visualisation research.)

Samuel Huron is Lead Designer at the Institute for Research and Innovation of the Pompidou Center (Paris) and Post doctorate researcher at the University of Calgary in the Innovis Lab. He successfully defended his Ph.D. on “Constructive Visualization: A token-based paradigm allowing to assemble dynamic visual representation for non-experts” at the Pompidou Center (Paris, France) in September 2014, under the supervision of Jean-Daniel Fekete, Vincent Puig and Sheelagh Carpendale. He graduated first candidate in 2009, Master in New Media Art in Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. He participated in several design research groups at Ecole National Supérieur des Arts décoratifs. For over ten years he has carried out multiple creative web projects for a broad range of civic, cultural and corporate clients. His interest focuses particularly on computer human interaction and visual languages.



Apr 15 / smr20

SACHI at CHI 2015: What to see

Once again, members of SACHI are presenting a number of papers and other works at this year’s CHI in Seoul, South Korea. The schedule below will allow you to see a sample of the Human-Computer Interaction research from the University of St Andrews.

Paper (Best paper): VelociTap: Investigating Fast Mobile Text Entry using Sentence-Based Decoding of Touchscreen Keyboard Input [ACM DL]
Session: How Fast Can you Type on your Phone?
When: Monday 16.30-17.50
Where: 402
Teaser Video

Paper: Performance and User Experience of Touchscreen and Gesture Keyboards in a Lab Setting and in the Wild [ACM DL]
Session: How Fast Can you Type on your Phone?
When: Monday 16.30-17.50
Where: 402

Paper: MultiFi: Multi Fidelity Interaction with Displays on and Around the Body [ACM DL]
Session: Multi-Device Interaction
When: Thursday 14.30-15.50
Where: 401
Teaser Video (download paper and other files here)

AltCHI Paper: The Broken Dream of Pervasive Sentient Ambient Calm Invisible Ubiquitous Computing [ACM DL]
Session: Augmentation
When: Monday 11.30-12.50
Where: 308
Teaser Video

Furthermore, Miguel Nacenta is on the subcommittee for Interaction Using Specific Capabilities or Modalities, and Uta Hinrichs is on the subcommittee for Design. Per Ola Kristensson, who is now an honorary associate and external member of SACHI, is on the subcommittee for Interaction Techniques and Devices, whilst also being co-organiser of the two workshops below.

Workshop: Text Entry on the Edge
When: Saturday 08.00-17.00
Where: 325
Workshop Link

Workshop: Principles, techniques and perspectives on optimization and HCI.
When: Sunday 08.00-17.00
Where: 324
Workshop Link

Members of SACHI also contributed to the Scottish HCI welcome party supported by the SICSA HCI theme which was a great success. Last but not least, Aaron Quigley is one of the conference session chairs while Shyam Reyal will be a Student Volunteer throughout the conference at this year’s CHI.

Apr 14 / Daniel John Rough

June 16th, seminar by Gavin Doherty: Technologies for mental health: designing for engagement.

Speaker: Gavin Doherty, Trinity College Dublin
Date/Time: 2-3pm June 16, 2015
Location: CS1.33a, University of St Andrews

Mental illness is one of the greatest social and economic challenges facing our society.
The talk will consider at some of the different ways in which technology (and HCI research) can help, with a particular focus on the problem of engagement. Taking examples from a series of projects to develop novel technologies for use in the mental health space, we will see some of the unique issues and challenges which come from working in this domain, and the steps which can be taken to address them. The SilverCloud platform, designed to deliver range of engaging and effective clinician-supported mental health interventions, will be used as a specific example to discuss the topics of evaluation and dissemination. Development of a suite of programmes and a number of partnerships based on the platform have enabled the delivery of supported online interventions to tens of thousands of patients in a range of public and private healthcare services worldwide.

Dr. Gavin Doherty is an Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College Dublin, and co-founder of SilverCloud Health. He completed his doctorate at the University of York, before undertaking postdoctoral work at CNR in Pisa and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK before moving to TCD. He is interested in design for specific application areas, and has led a number of interdisciplinary projects in a number of different domains. A major focus of his work over the last decade has been on the design of technologies for mental health. The aim has been to develop systems which can increase access to, increase engagement with, and assist in improving the outcomes of mental health interventions.

This seminar is part of our ongoing series from researchers in HCI. See here for our current schedule.

Apr 10 / Daniel John Rough

April 28th, seminar by Mel Woods: Future Cities: Co-creating Future City Design Fictions in the Wild

Speaker: Mel Woods, University of Dundee
Date/Time: 2-3pm April 28, 2015
Location: CS1.33a, University of St Andrews

Blue heritage plaques pepper the UK landscape expounding officially validated narratives celebrating past events, people, and buildings. This seminar will discuss a novel method that draws on this specific cultural context to generate reflective, nano-stories, documenting them through populating a place, physical space, and an online data repository. The guerrilla blue plaque method was designed to support people to reflect on possible futures, in this instance the theme of future cities. The seminar will demonstrate how using critical design artefacts can help support understanding of future hopes, needs, and goals for individuals and communities. It will also discuss the method as a feedback mechanism for participatory design, citizen engagement and emergent outcomes from the latest deployment.
This work was initially developed as part of a UK arts and digital media festival and exhibited recently at Microsoft Research Lab, Cambridge at RTD 2015.

Mel is Reader at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee. In her research she has developed and explored interaction between people to support discovery, foster creativity and affect. Throughout her academic career she has sustained a critical enquiry in art and design, creating digital artefacts, interfaces, prototypes and exhibits using novel methods and evaluation techniques.

This seminar is part of our ongoing series from researchers in HCI. See here for our current schedule.

Mar 30 / David Harris-Birtill

LitLong Launch

The Palimpsest project involving the University of St Andrews’ SACHI team, collaborating with the University of Edinburgh’s English literature and text-mining group, has now completed its LitLong Edinburgh application and website, which are launched today (30th March 2015).

LitLong_web_vis LitLong_app

Lit Long: Edinburgh features a range of maps and accessible visualisations, which enable users to interact with Edinburgh’s literature in a variety of ways, exploring the spatial relations of the literary city at particular times in its history, in the works of particular authors, or across different eras, genres and writers. Lit Long: Edinburgh makes a major contribution to our knowledge of the Edinburgh literary cityscape, with potential to shape the experience and understanding of critics and editors, residents and visitors, readers and writers.

Give the web visualisation a try here.

SACHI’s Dr Uta Hinrichs created the web visualisation and Dr David Harris-Birtill created the mobile app. Professor Aaron Quigley was the University of St Andrews leader and co-investigator on the Palimpsest project.

This work is also featured on the Guardian’s website and mentioned in Edinburgh University’s news.