SICSA All Hands event welcome CHI 2019 subcommittee chairs to St Andrews.

The SICSA HCI theme has an annual all hands meeting and in 2019, the St Andrews Computer Human Interaction research group (SACHI) is organising and hosting this event in St Andrews today.

This year we took the opportunity to create a unique event where we invited all the subcommittee chairs of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) to join us and present an introduction to their research. Today twenty of these chairs will join nearly 100 HCI researchers from across Scotland. We will have presentations from our visitors from around the world and from across SICSA.


Cultural Heritage in the Age of Technology – IUI Summer School 2018

Iain Carson attends IUI Summer School in Haifa

The old city of Jaffa, Tel Aviv, at sunset

I was recently fortunate enough to be accepted to the Intelligent User Interfaces Summer School in Haifa, Israel – a series of talks and workshops encouraging generation of ideas and collaborations in the era of IoT and smart environments, with consideration for the use of technology in cultural heritage as a focal point for the presentations and discussions.

As there is no direct flight between Edinburgh and Israel, I arrived keen yet bleary-eyed in Tel Aviv at 4.30am just a couple of days before the conference; just enough time to recover and get to grips with the country before having to check in at the workshop.

Narrow streets of Jaffa

Tel Aviv greeted me with wall to wall sunshine and a scorching air temperature of 30degC. My explorations of the ancient city of Jaffa (the oranges were really grown here, but the cakes are just riding on their fame) showed me that Israel is a country proud of both its incredible history and its technological prowess.

In Jaffa, the stone-clad, narrow streets of the old town create a winding labyrinth built on foundations of the ancient Egyptians, modifications of the Israelites, then Phoenicians, further fortifications from the Ottoman Empire, elements of destruction at the hand of Napoleon, all falling through dereliction to be processed by modern rehabilitation efforts. Amongst the art and architecture sit bakeries, a sprawling flea market and numerous falafel kiosks, many observing a strict closing at midday on Fridays to celebrate Shabbat. Somehow, these layers of a rich Arabian history embedded in the crumbling stonework sit in stark contrast to the Silicon Valley-esque ideals one may have on the origin of Israel’s numerous internationally-recognised tech start-ups, which include Waze, Wix, Viber, Gett and Cortica, and the Israeli-only but nonetheless impressive Pango.

With its rich cultural heritage and strong tech foundations, Israel is a fitting location for the IUI summer school and its focus on the use of technology in cultural heritage.

Introduction to Acre

The summer school took part in Haifa, some 90km North of Tel Aviv, at the University of Haifa. With the air-conditioning set to max, we attended a series of stimulating talks by researchers from around the world. Topics covered a broad range of technologies, not exhaustively from “smart objects” in museums (presented by Massimo Zancanaro) to blind navigation aids (Jeremy Cooperstock), robots (Cristina Gena) to relics, and city-guide drones (Jessica Cauchard) to animal interfaces (Anna Zamansky). Even with such diversity, all talks were tailored to prime our minds for the pinnacle task of the summer school – working in small groups to ideate, design and present a realistic technological research proposal. We were encouraged to consider how cutting-edge technology may improve accessibility and engagement with cultural heritage, and after an afternoon brainstorming we were left with a real feeling of excitement for the task ahead.

Acre’s ancient sea wall

The next day, an excursion to the UNESCO world Heritage site Acre demonstrated some excellent applications of technology in cultural heritage, where projectors, sound systems, interactive displays and some beautiful visual effects provided new pathways for our minds and senses to navigate between the physical and the information space. We were encouraged to think strongly about how our ideas and developments may be used in such contexts, but equally to learn from the (hit and miss) effectiveness of such technologies in the wild, which may influence our decisions.

Group presentation of SHIP – the Special Hecht Interaction Playground

It became clear that while good tech can increase engagement and enrichen the museum experience, poorly implemented interfaces can be tedious enough to elicit frustration, or so stimulating that they distract altogether from the exhibit, defeating their purpose.

With the talks and first-hand experience in mind, our group of 5, representing an age range of 30 years and spanning multiple nationalities, settled on the presentation of a series of interactive podiums and a collaborative exploration table for the Ma’agan Mikhael ancient ship exhibition

Sarona Market – not your average Arabian flea market!

A lot of work went into the presentation of the idea, and we hope to develop the foundations into a project proposal and framework for improving child engagement with non-physical or ancient exhibitions through roleplaying in a collaborative, gamified environment.

After the presentations I was left to explore the towering skyscrapers of new Tel Aviv, navigating the shopping malls and their app-powered coffee and burger chains to acquire yet another perspective on this inspiring culture.

Alongside my undeniable tan and plethora of new contact details, my week in Israel had left me with plenty to think about on my journey back to a sunny, yet undeniably chilly, Edinburgh.

My sincere thanks go to SIGCHI, School of Computer Science and the ACM for the financial and logistical assistance in travelling to and staying in Israel, enabling such an excellent experience.

Everyone at the IUI Summer School in Acre

SACHI members to attend womENcourage ’18, IEEE VL/HCC ’18, ACM UbiComp ’18, ACM UIST ’18, ISMAR ’18 and IEEE VIS ’18 this month.

This month nine different members of SACHI will be travelling to Belgrade, Lisbon, Singapore, Berlin and Munich to attend womENcourage ’18, VL/HCC ’18, UbiComp 2018, UIST 2018, ISMAR 2018 and IEEE VIS 2018.

womENcourage ’18

At the start of October Maheshya and Adrianna will attend womENcourage ’18 in Belgrade. Adrianna is posters co-chair in 2018 and serves on the steering committee for this conference series. Maheshya will present two posters on “Novel Technologies in Teaching and Learning towards Enhanced Knowledge Retention” Maheshya Weerasinghe, Matjaž Kljun, Klen Čopič Pucihar and Aaron Quigley and “An Active Video Game Based Lower Limb Rehabilitation Approach to Assist Children with Cerebral Palsy” Maheshya Weerasinghe. Adrianna is involved with a further two posters on “Self-Flip: How Learning through Making Can Flip the Classroom” Anna Vasilchenko and Adriana Wilde and the “Impact of Design Decisions in Information Visualization: two takes on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites dataset” Paulina Busch, Eszter Kocsis and Adriana Wilde.

VL/HCC ’18

From Oct 1st Daniel will be in Lisbon to present two papers. First, a paper “Towards end-user development for chronic disease management” Rough, DJ & Quigley, AJ 2018, in Designing Technologies to Support Human Problem Solving: A Workshop in Conjunction with VL/HCC 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal, Oct. 1, 2018. After this Daniel is presenting a full paper entitled “End-user development in social psychology research: factors for adoption.” Rough, DJ & Quigley, AJ 2018, at the IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC 2018). in Lisbon, Portugal.

Ubicomp and ISWC ’18

From October 7th, Aaron and Tristan will be attending Ubicomp 2018 in Singapore. Tristan will present “How portable is portable? Exercising the GDPR’s Right to Data Portability” Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on Legal and Technical Issues in Cloud and Pervasive Computing (CLaw 2018) collocated with Ubicomp. While Aaron will give a talk on “Becoming a Volunteer at ACM SIGCHI and SIGMOBILE”, register here.


Mensch-und-Computer 2019 Keynote by Professor Aaron Quigley

Professor Aaron Quigley will be a keynote speaker at the Mensch-und-Computer conference 2019 in Hamburg Germany in September of 2019. This series of symposia takes place each year in different German-speaking countries. This is one of the largest HCI conferences in Europe each year with over 700 delegates from industry and academia. Usability Professionals and Scientists come together in a multi-track program with long papers, short contributions, demos, tutorials and workshops. Submissions are possible in German and English.

Hamburg Speicherstadt

VISSOFT 2018 Keynote by Professor Aaron Quigley

Aaron will be a keynote speaker at the IEEE VISSOFT 2018 conference later this year. “The sixth IEEE Working Conference on Software Visualization (VISSOFT 2018) builds upon the success of the previous four editions of VISSOFT, which in turn followed after six editions of the IEEE International Workshop on Visualizing Software for Understanding and Analysis (VISSOFT) and five editions of the ACM Symposium on Software Visualization (SOFTVIS). Software visualization is a broad research area encompassing concepts, methods, tools, and techniques that assist in a range of software engineering and software development activities. Covered aspects include the development and evaluation of approaches for visually analyzing software and software systems, including their structure, execution behavior, and evolution.”


St Andrews – University of Primorska co-tutelle in Computer Science

The University of St Andrews and Primorska are soon to agree to award a joint degree with the title of Doctor of Philosophy (on condition that the joint PhD study programme in Computer Science will gain accreditation of the Slovenian Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education). This represents the culmination of many months of effort from Drs Matjaž Kljun, Klen Čopič Pucihar and Professor Aaron Quigley. Aaron and Matjaž first met at the UMAP conference in 2011 in Spain as mentor and mentee in the PhD doctoral program. Since then, Matjaž and Klen who undertook their PhDs in the University of Lancaster have returned to Slovenia to establish and exciting program of HCI research and development in the HICUP lab. In 2017 a program of international support (Slovenian/English) allowed them to invite Aaron to Slovenia for three weeks and this has resulted in a number of join grant submissions and the establishment of this co-tutelle program. We look forward to many years collaborating and we look forward to this new PhD student starting later this year.


iVoLVER system wins Best Demo Jury Award at ACM ISS 2017

The iVoLVER system (, created by Gonzalo Méndez and Miguel Nacenta from the SACHI group at the School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews, received on Thursday 19 the ACM ISS Best Demo Jury Award during the conference, which took place at Brighton, UK.

iVoLVER is a web-based visual programming environment that enables anyone to transform visualizations that the find in-the-wild (e.g., in a poster or a newspaper) into new visualizations that are more useful for them.

An example iVoLVER interface.

The ACM Interactive Surfaces and Spaces conference takes place yearly in different locations. Next year it will take place in Tokyo, Japan. The conference is a premier venue for work that studies how people interact in smart spaces and surfaces and how to design and engineering solutions for novel interfaces.

Gala Malbasic wins Young Software Engineer of the Year award

Gala who undertook her honours project in SACHI has been awarded the Young Software Engineer of the Year 2017 by ScotlandIS.


SACHI @ IEEE VIS in Phoenix

Uta Hinrichs is currently representing SACHI at the IEEE VIS conference in Phoenix, Arizona. If you are at IEEE VIS this week, too, come and say “hi” (look for the pink hair) and hear about the cool visualization work happening at SACHI. Find some of the activities Uta is involved in at the conference below, including the VIS4DH workshop, a tutorial on Analyzing Qualitative Data, and a Panel on Reflection on Reflection in Design Studies.