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Some highlights of 2014 to date

New Lectureship | RSE/Makdougall Brisbane Medal | AHRC funding for Palimpsest Project
General Chair MobileHCI'14 | Program Chair ITS'14 | Program Chair PerDis'14 | New SICSA theme
Best paper and honorable mention at CHI 2014 | Best paper at AVI 2014 | Best paper at DIS 2014
JISC funded Trading Consequences Launch | 9 papers and other works at CHI 2014.

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

Dec 5 / uta

Now on Sale: FatFonts World Population Maps


Looking for a gift for a visualization aficionado? We are happy to announce that the first ever FatFonts World Population Map is now available in the Axis Maps store. All proceeds from the maps will be used to fund more FatFont-related research.

The map shows how the population of the world is distributed. It uses a typographic visualization technique–FatFonts–which allows you to read the exact number of people living in a particular area with a precision within 100,000 people. Each number in the world map corresponds to the population in an area of approx. 40,000 km².


FatFonts – first conceived and designed by Miguel Nacenta and Uta Hinrichs – are digits that can be read as numbers, but also encode the information visually in the amount of ink that each digit uses. For example, digit eight 8 has eight times the amount of ink of digit one 1, digit seven 7 seven times and so on and so forth. This technique turns a table of numbers into a graphical representation where darker areas (with thicker numbers) represent higher population density. Stepping away from the map gives you an overview of which areas are heavily populated, coming closer lets you read the exact values.

To represent population densities from the tens of millions in a square (e.g., in New York City or Istanbul) to the hundreds of thousands, we use two layers: the FatFont numbers with orange backgrounds represent tens of millions of people. For example, the square that contains Buenos Aires shows you that fourteen million people live in that square of the world (the smaller 4 within the larger 1 represents the smaller order of magnitude). Tiles without an orange background represent populations between 9.9 million people to 100,000 (one order of magnitude lower).

This is an effective way to represent several orders of magnitude. The effect is quite mesmerising, and it gives you a good idea of where people actually live. Although it is possible to represent the same data with colours (i.e., colour scales), it is something different to see also the number itself. With the number you can easily make comparisons, calculate proportions, and relate what you see with the knowledge that you have already.

After a few minutes of looking at the map it starts to really sink in how empty some areas of the planet really are (Australia!), and how the real population centroid of the world is clearly in South East Asia. The map uses an equal-area projection; the numbers that you read are, therefore, also population densities. The representation is derived from the 2005 estimations for 2015 of the GPWFE dataset made available by SEDAC, Columbia University. 15 insets highlight interesting areas of high and low population in more detail, such as Northern China, Mexico City, Egypt, Western Japan, Bangladesh and Africa’s Great Lakes region.

Angle Australia_600

Nov 27 / Gonzalo Mendez

Exciting Collaboration with Wacom to Investigate Pen+Touch Interaction


Manipulation of visual information on the Wacom Cintiq 24HD touch display.

As part of a joint initiative to better understand pen+touch interaction in multi-touch devices, the SACHI lab has started a collaborative research endeavour with Wacom Co., Ltd. As a result, we recently welcomed some new arrivals to our lab: a  Cintiq 24HD touch display and a Cintiq Companion Hybrid tablet.

This equipment has an ergonomic design with a high resolution screen which combines multi-touch and pen capabilities. We intend to use them to explore new interaction possibilities and provide insights that can be incorporated in the design process of new multi-touch devices. Specifically, we will study user interaction within the creative space of Complex Graphic Manipulations, and with children in the context of handwriting.

SACHI looks forward to keeping you up to date with our discoveries.


SACHI researchers collaborating with Wacom devices.


Nov 20 / Gonzalo Mendez

December 2nd, seminar by Eve Hoggan: Augmenting and Evaluating Communication with Multimodal Flexible Interfaces

Speaker: Dr. Eve Hoggan, Aalto Science Institute and the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology

Date/Time: December 2, 2014 / 2-3pm

Location: Jack Cole Building 1.33a, School of Computer Science

Title:  Augmenting and Evaluating Communication with Multimodal Flexible Interfaces


This talk will detail an exploratory study of remote interpersonal communication using the ForcePhone prototype. This research focuses on the types of information that can be expressed between two people using the haptic modality, and the impact of different feedback designs. Based on the results of this study and other current work, the potential of deformable interfaces and multimodal interaction techniques to enrich communication for users with impairments will be discussed. This talk will also present an introduction to neurophysiological measurements of such interfaces.


Eve Hoggan is a Research Fellow at the Aalto Science Institute and the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT in Finland, where she is vice-leader of the Ubiquitous Interaction research group. Her current research focuses on the creation of novel interaction techniques, interpersonal communication and non-visual multimodal feedback.  The aim of her research is to use multimodal interaction and varying form factors to create more natural and effortless methods of interaction between humans and technology regardless of any situational or physical impairment.

More information can be found at

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

Nov 4 / Gonzalo Mendez

November 11th, seminar by Jason Alexander: Supporting the Design of Shape-Changing Interfaces

Speaker: Dr. Jason Alexander, School of Computing and Communications, Lancaster University

Date/Time: November 11, 2014 / 2-3pm

Location: Jack Cole Building 1.33a, School of Computer Science

Title:  Supporting the Design of Shape-Changing Interfaces


Shape-changing interfaces physically mutate their visual display surface to better represent on-screen content, provide an additional information channel, and facilitate tangible interaction with digital content. The HCI community has recently shown increasing interest in this area, with their physical dynamicity fundamentally changing how we think about displays. This talk will describe our current work supporting the design and prototyping of shape-changing displays: understanding shape-changing application areas through public engagement brainstorming, characterising fundamental touch input actions, creating tools to support design, and demonstrating example implementations. It will end with a look at future challenges and directions for research.


Jason is a lecturer in the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University. His primary research area is Human-Computer Interaction, with a particular interest in bridging the physical-digital divide using novel physical interaction devices and techniques. He was previously a post-doctoral researcher in the Bristol Interaction and Graphics (BIG) group at the University of Bristol. Before that he was a Ph.D. student in the HCI and Multimedia Lab at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. More information can be found at

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

Nov 4 / Michael Mauderer

Dr Miguel Nacenta Appointed Co-Leader for SICSA Research Theme: Human Computer Interaction

– photo by Callum Hyland

– photo by Callum Hyland

We are happy to announce that Dr Miguel Nacenta was appointed as co-leader of the SICSA Human-Computer Interaction research theme.

In his new position as SICSA HCI theme co-leader Miguel will, together with Professor Stephen Brewster of the University of Glasgow, take responsibility for the academic coordination of the theme and organize events such as the pre-CHI day, the All Hands Meeting and the SICSA HCI Doctoral Consortium.

If you are interested in the theme and its related events you can have a look at the SICSA HCI website, join the theme mailing list, or contact Miguel or Stephen for further information.

Oct 21 / Daniel John Rough

October 28th, seminar by Neal Lathia: Emotion Sense: From Design to Deployment

Speaker: Neal Lathia, Cambridge University
Date/Time: 2-3pm October 28, 2014
Location: Maths Lecture Theatre D, University of St Andrews

In the UK, more than 70% of mobile users now own a smartphone. These increasingly powerful, sensor-rich, and personal devices present an immense opportunity to monitor health-related behaviours and deliver digital behaviour-change interventions at unprecedented scale.

However, designing and building systems to measure and intervene on health behaviours presents a number of challenges. These range from balancing between energy efficiency and data granularity, translating between behavioural theory and design, making long psychological assessments usable for end users, and making sense of the sensor and survey data these apps collect in a multidisciplinary setting.

Approximately 18 months ago, we launched Emotion Sense, a mood-tracking app for Android where we tried to address some of these challenges. To date, the app has been downloaded over 35,000 times and has an active user base of about 2,000 people: in this talk, I will describe how we designed, trialled, and launched Emotion Sense, and the insights we are obtaining about diurnal patterns of activity and happiness that we are finding by mining the 100 million+ accelerometer samples the app has collected to date. I’ll close with future directions of this technology — including a novel smoking cessation intervention (Q Sense), and a generic platform (Easy M) that we have developed to allow researchers to conduct their own studies.

Neal is a Senior Research Associate in Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory. His research to date falls somewhere in the intersection of data mining, mobile systems, ubiquitous/pervasive systems, and personalisation/ recommender systems, applied to a variety of contexts where we measure human behaviour by their digital footprints. He has a PhD in Computer Science from University College London. More info/contact

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

Oct 20 / admin

Winter Augmented Reality Meeting 2015 Keynote Speaker Aaron Quigley


Professor Aaron Quigley

Professor Aaron Quigley

Aaron Quigley has been invited to the Winter Augmented Reality Meeting 2015 as a Keynote Speaker. WARM is an interdisciplinary meeting of experts in AR and related domains running its tenth installment. WARM2015 continues the success of previous WARM events (WARM’05, WARM’07, WARM’08, WARM’09, WARM’10, WARM’11, WARM’12, WARM’13, WARM’14).

The organisers of WARM’15 note that the fields of Computer Graphics, Augmented Reality, Computer Vision and Ubiquitous Computing are synergistic. However, the overlap and interleaving contributions of each area has yet to be expressed and understood. The domain expert, focusing and on excelling in his or her field of research, is unable to see the connections. This meeting is a fertile ground to connect ideas and therefore seeks a variety of topics revolving around Augmented Reality and Ubiquitous Computing.

Aaron is currently on sabbatical in Japan conducting research and working on a book. Elements from both of these will form the basis for his keynote lecture in February 2015 at Graz University of Technology, Institute for Computer Graphics and Vision, Austria.

The title for his talk will be “Constructing Reality: Digital-Physical Scaffolding” and the abstract is,

Is the relationship between human and computer akin to a dance, where each moves effortlessly responding to the movements of the other? Or, are computers just agents who do our bidding, either undertaking direct actions on our behalf or proactively determining services, information and supports we may need on a moment to moment basis? Or, should computers continue to be best thought of as simple devices which we should turn over work to as Vannevar Bush said or thinking assistants to perform the routinizable work as Licklider suggests while we focus on creative thought and decision? Neither the beautiful dance, the agent nor the simple device seems to capture our current experience of human computer interaction. Technology underpins the human experience and digital technologies in the form of devices, computers and communications are weaving themselves into the fabric of existence. The nature of this weaving is far from uniform, distributed or even fair. For some, the impact of digital technologies are far removed from their day to day life and serve only to support some of the infrastructure of where they live, if at all. For others, digital technologies form part of the substrate of their existence and living without their mobile phone, social media apps and streaming music service seems unimaginable. Between these extremes are broad swathes of the global population who rely on digital technologies for the infrastructure in their areas and services delivered to their homes. Of course, our use and indeed reliance of technology is not new. Indeed, it is one of the defining characteristics of humans and society, our fashioning of tools, instruments and technologies to help shape our world and lives. In this talk I will discuss how we have already used technology to fashion and construct our present reality and explore ways we might create new scaffolds for the future such as enhancing our senses for a myriad of reasons from correction to replacement and enhancement.



Oct 14 / Aaron Quigley

MobileHCI 2014, MobileHCI conference series, UIST 2014 and UIST 2015


MobileHCI 2014 General Co-Chairs

MobileHCI 2014 General Co-Chairs

In late September 2014 a number of members from SACHI were involved with MobileHCI 2014 in Toronto Canada. Aaron Quigley was the general co-chair for this conference and Daniel Rough was the registration chair. Per Ola Kristensson, an external member of SACHI, presented a paper and was a session chair during the conference. MobileHCI brings together people from diverse areas which provides a multidisciplinary forum for academics, hardware and software developers, designers and practitioners to discuss the challenges and potential solutions for effective interaction with and through mobile devices, applications, and services. MobileHCI LogoThis year MobileHCI was able to have a single track for the entire program which allowed everyone to see all the papers, posters, demos, design contest, panels etc. without trying to change sessions. Some images from this conference can be found here. Aaron is now the chair of the MobileHCI conference series steering committee until August 2015.

In early October a number of SACHI members were again involved with or attended UIST 2014, the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology. We organised this conference, UIST 2013 here in St Andrews last year. In 2014, Per Ola Kristensson was the demo co-chair and  Jakub Dostal was the registration co-chair. Per Ola was also awarded a lasting impact award during UIST 2014. Aaron Quigley will be the keynote chair for UIST 2015 in Charlotte, NC Nov 8-11, 2015. UIST-2014The ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) is the premier forum for innovations in human-computer interfaces. UIST brings together people from diverse areas including graphical & web user interfaces, tangible & ubiquitous computing, virtual & augmented reality, multimedia, new input & output devices, and CSCW.

You can read Aaron’s full blog post about the papers he noted to SACHI here.

Oct 1 / Anne-Marie Mann

October 14, Seminar by Professor Janet Read: Children, Text Input – and the Writing Process

Speaker: Professor Janet C Read, University of Central Lancashire
Date/Time: 2-3pm October 14th, 2014
Location: Maths Lecture Theatre B, University of St Andrews


The process of learning to write is both cognitive and motoric.  Forming symbols into words and committing them to a surface is a process laden with complexity; creating the meaning that will be represented by these words is even more complex.

Digital technologies provide opportunities and insights for the study of writing processes.  With keyboard capture and pen stroke capture important information can be gathered to make writing systems more child suited and to provide useful assistance to beginner writers.  Data captured during the electronic transcription of writing can also provide insights into how writing emerges as a form.

This talk will present child computer interaction against the context of children writing using electronic means.  The marriage of the text input space, the digital ink space and the child will be explored using examples from recent research.


Prof. Janet C Read (BSc, PGCE, PhD) is an international expert in Child Computer Interaction having supervised 7 PhD students to completion, examined 14 PhD students in six different European countries and currently supervising 8 PhD students studying a range of topics including the use of colour in teenage bedrooms, the design of interactive systems for dogs, the use of scaffolding in serious games, the use of text input to detect fraudulent password use, collaborative gaming for children, evaluation of systems for children and the forensic detection process.  Her personal current research is in three main areas – she has recently published several papers on the ethics of engaging with children in participatory research activities offering a model for working with children which ensures they are given full information, and also a set of techniques that can be used to ensure that children’s contributions to interaction design are treated with respect. A second strand of interest is in the study of fun and the study of means to measure it.  The Fun Toolkit, which is a set of tools to measure the experience of children when using interactive technology, is her most cited work and this is work that has developed over time but is still being examined.  The uses of digital ink with children, and the whole area of text input for children, both with standard keyboards and with `handwriting recognition completes her current research portfolio. Professor Read has acted as PI on several projects (see below) and is the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Child Computer Interaction.

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

Sep 16 / admin

Best wishes to Per Ola


Dr Per Ola Kristensson, one of the cofounders of SACHI, has become a University Lecturer in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. In his time at St Andrews he helped to establish the teaching and research footprint for HCI across the School of Computer Science. Speaking to SACHI Per Ola said, “I have enjoyed my time in St Andrews tremendously. It is an incredibly stimulating and vivid research environment and the growth and international visibility of the St Andrews Human Computer Interaction (SACHI) group is a testament to this.” The students here will miss him as will his colleagues. Working with students is clearly close to Per Ola’s heart, as he noted that “both the undergraduate students and the MSc students I have been teaching have been fantastic. It is incredibly rewarding to teach HCI to motivated students.”

Per Ola helped establish SACHI in many ways, from bringing leading researchers to our seminar program to new funded research projects. Professor Aaron Quigley said, “We will all miss Per Ola very much. His energy and razor sharp intellect helped in our research, teaching and in developing new insights into challenging problems”.  Per Ola went on to say that, “the collegial atmosphere is superb and the intellectual environment in the SACHI group has resulted in many papers at CHI, AVI, IUI, etc. co-authored together with colleagues, PhD students or undergraduate students. Some of these papers have also been featured in the international press or won best paper prizes.”

During his time with St Andrews, Per Ola had many successes from being awarded the RSE/Makdougall Brisbane Medal  to being the only UK member of the TR35, the most prestigious annual list published by MIT TechnologyReview in 2013.  Speaking of Per Ola as an academic Aaron said , “While Per-Ola has some serious business credentials under his belt, he is a true academic scholar, in every meaning of that term. He values academia deeply and understands that high quality research with impact doesn’t come overnight. Instead, it comes with deep thought, studious application of suitable methodology and care in reporting research results”.

Speaking about the School of Computer Science and the University Per Ola said, “people here have a genuine belief in academic values and the importance of ensuring teaching and research is of the highest calibre.” Dr Miguel Nacenta, another of Per Ola’s colleagues added, “Per Ola has been a great colleague and a friend. Working with him has enriched all of us at SACHI and we hope that the strong ties that we keep with him result in many more fruitful collaborations.”

Dr Per Ola Kristensson is now a Honorary Reader in the School of Computer Science and continues to be a member of SACHI. Looking back on his time in St Andrews Per Ola noted, “these years I have spent in St Andrews have helped me develop as a researcher and a teacher and I will remember my years here fondly”. We all wish Per Ola well on the next step in his career, it has been our great pleasure to work together for these past few years.