Feb 21, 2013

CCRMA Summer Workshops:Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics

I would love to take a few summer workshops at Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, CCRMA.  I took a computer music technology class back in 2003 and have longed for more. 

Here is the schedule of workshops at CCRMA, from the CCRMA website:

6/17 - 6/21   Network Sound and Data:  Juan Pablo Caceres and Carr Wilkerson
6/24 - 6/28  Intelligent Audio Systems: Foundations and Applications of Music Information Retrieval:  Jay LeBoeuf, Leigh Smith, Steve Tjoa
7/8 - 7/12      Aspects of Sound in Art: Elaine Buckholtz and Sasha Leitman
7/15 -  7/19   SuperCollider: Fernando Lopez Lezcano and Bruno Ruviaro
7/22 - 7/26    The World of Auditory and Music Perception: Takako Fujioka, Poppy Crum, Pierre Divenyi
7/29 - 8/2      Music and Mobile Computing:  Mark Cerqueira and Spencer Salazar 
8/12 - 8/16    New Music Controllers: Edgar Berdahl and Michael Gurevich
8/19 - 8/23    Stompbox Design: Edgar Berdahl and Esteban Maestre
8/26 - 8/30    3D Printing for Acoustics :  John Granzow , Marlo Kohn, Scott Summit 
9/9 - 9/13      Perceptual Audio Coding:  Marina Bosi and Rich Goldberg

Tuition is $450.00 for each workshop. More information can be found on the CCRMA site.

If you happen to be interested, CCRMA offers undergraduate and graduate university degrees.   In addition to traditional courses, such as "Musical Acoustics" and "Seminar in Music Perception", other courses are offered, such as "Future Media/Media Archaeology", "Interactive Sound Art", and "Neuroplasticity and Musical Gaming".

I'd be just as happy with a visit to IRCAM, the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music in France.

Feb 20, 2013

Disney Research: Touche, Touch and Gesture Sensing

The following video is a demonstration of something called Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing. It recognizes various configurations of hands and body during interactions.  This system is different than conventional capacitive touch sensing, as it senses a range of frequencies to develop a capacitive profile that provides a significant amount of data that can be analysed and utilized in an application.

At 1:23, the SFCS is demonstrated on a table, sensing body posture or body configuration. It is a wireless system and can be used on smaller touch screens, such as mobile devices.  It can recognize interactions in liquids.

Touche was awarded Best Paper at ACM CHI 2012:

Touche: Touch and Gesture Sensing for the Real World
Disney Research
Sato, M., Poupyrev, I, and Harrison, C. Touché: Enhancing Touch Interaction on Humans, Screens, Liquids, and Everyday Objects. In Proceedings of CHI’12. 2012. ACM.
Paper [PDF, 10Mb]
Touche with Arduino
Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing (SFCS)
Audrey Cropp, Responsive Landscapes, 2/18/13

SOMEWHAT RELATED Synthetic Ecologies Course Reading List
Responsive Environments Course
Allen Sayegh, Harvard Graduate School of Design

AirHarp for Leap Motion, a Responsive Musical Natural User Interface

I like this demonstration of Adam Somers  AirHarp music application for use with the Leap Motion 3D controller:

AirHarp is being developed in C++ using Adam Somer's audio processing toolkit, MusKit.  This looks interesting!  Things have changes since I last took a computer music technology course (back in 2003).

Adam Somers is a senior software engineer at Universal Audio.  He has a graduate degree in music technology from Stanford, and a background in computer science, electronics, human-computer interaction, and signal processing.

Leap Motion is a motion-control software and hardware start-up company located in San Francisco, California. According to promotional information from the website, the company's first product, the Leap Motion controller, is 200 times more sensitive than existing technologies.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  (I'm still waiting for my pre-order.)

AirHarp (links to GitHub)
Leap FAQs
Leap Motion Website
Leap Motion Developer Portal
Leap Motion Leadership Team
Leap Motion goes retail: Motion controller sold exclusively at Best Buy
Michael Gorman, engadget, 1/16/13

Leap Motion: Low Cost Gesture Control for your Computer Display
Asus partners up with Leap Motion, PCs with 3D motion control to debut in 2013
Michael Gorman, engadget, 1/3/13
Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics

Feb 19, 2013

Part II: Websites and Apps for Teens and Education

If you plan to design/develop websites or applications that provide an element of "edutainment" or informal educational activities for teens, it might be good to think about how your site/application can fit into the requirements of an educational system. Much has changed over the past three years. 

For example, many schools have adopted a 1:1 laptop/netbook/tablet initiative. In some cases, the students no longer carry textbooks, because digital versions are installed on their devices. They access on-line digital content, such as videos and interactive learning games, and self-correcting quizzes provided by the textbook publisher. These activities are accessed by the students during and after school hours. 

Teachers do not limit their assignments to the resources provided by text-book publishers. In some classes at the high school level, students are required to work on group projects that extend over several weeks. Students use protected websites, i.e. Moodle, provided by the school district, to store digital content and collaborate on group projects. 

During the course of a group project, teachers provide students with links to approved websites. Some of these websites provide tools to assist in the creation of content related to their project. Students might work together to create an animation or video, or work individually on one component of the project to contribute to the final project. For example, one student might work on an animation to demonstrate a biological process, and another might be responsible for organizing a story board for a video that the group presents to the class.

After completion, the products generated from the students' work may be available for viewing by others on-line, and in some cases, featured on the school's website.

If you are interested in developing applications or content for use in education, it is important to know that most states have adopted the Common Core Standards. Educational applications must align with these content standards in order to support the learning and teaching goals for a particular subject. 

It is also important to have a grasp of learning and teaching theories, an understanding of child and adolescent development, and a working knowledge of applications and technologies that have been successfully used with this age group to support learning.  Consider working with a knowledgeable interdisciplinary team!


Nielson-Norman Group Research Reports

Pew Research Center Resources

Teens and Education Resources 
The following websites also provide resources for other age groups and related topics.

Other Resources

For readers interested in learning more about educational technology and related "nuts and bolts", the following links will provide food for thought:

Feb 17, 2013

Tips for Apps and the Web: Designing for Teens, Part I

Jakob Nielsen, of the Nielsen Norman Group, recently wrote an interesting post about designing website for teens. He provides good information for anyone considering this age group.  The study includes tips for designing for smaller screens such as laptops with track pads, touch-screen tablets, and smart phones.

Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox, 2/4/13

The research shared in Nielsen's post is important. The results of research conducted 8 years ago are compared with current findings.  Nielsen discusses some of the myths about teens and technology. As Nielsen points out, teens might appear to be tech-savvy in some ways, but they possess brains that are in the midst of cognitive development,  just one factor to consider when designing web experiences for this age group.

Nielsen Norman Group's related product, "Teenagers (Ages 13-17) on the Web" provides additional information on this topic. It includes 110 design guidelines informed by research conducted with teens.  Busy web developers might find the fee of $149.00 for this report appropriate.   

The information in this report would also be useful to design/development teams who aim to provide web-based educational content for this age group.

Pew Internet & American Life

Another good resource for designers/developers targeting applications or websites for teens is the Pew Research Center website.  The Pew Internet & American Life Project continues to investigate a wide range of topics related to the use of technology among people of all walks of life.  What I like about the Pew Research Center is that their reports are free, and include summaries as well as samples of interview questions.

Researchers from the Pew Internet and American Life Project share their knowledge in a variety of forms.  Data is available for download in SPSS and comma-delimited format, crosstab files and questionnaires.

The website also provides access to number of presentations, such as the one below:

Nielson-Norman Group Research Reports
College Students (Ages 18-24) on the Web

Pew Research Center Resources
Featured Research: Teens
Pew Research Center Trend Data (Teens)
In-store Mobile Commerce During the 2012 Holiday Shopping Season

Teens and Education Resources 
The following websites also provide resources for other age groups and related topics.
Edudemic Ed-Tech Tools 
Edutopia: 6-8 Grade Level Resources
Edutopia: 9-12 Grade Level Resources

Part II will focus on teens and considerations for educational technology.

Feb 15, 2013

Designing for Touch & Gesture: Tips for Apps and the Web (Updated)

In the past, our fingers did the walking, sifting through files, papers, pamphlets, and phonebooks, and then by point-click-clicking with a mouse to interact with images and text, in essence, electronic imitations of the paper-based world. Traditional forms, brochures, ad inserts, and posters informed much of the design. 

How much have things change?   It is 2013, but you'd think it was 1997 from the PowerPoint look and feel of many apps and web sites!   Touch is everywhere, but from what I can tell, not enough designers and developers have stepped up to the plate to think more deeply about ways their applications can support human endeavors though touch and gesture interactions.  

For an overview of this topic, take a look at my 2011 post, written after a number of ugly encounters with user-unfriendly applications:  Why bother switching from GUI to NUI?  

For an in-depth look into the history of multi-touch, the wisdom of Bill Buxton is well-worth absorbing.  He's worked with all sorts of interfaces, and has been curating the history of multi-touch and gesture systems since 2007:

Multi-Touch Systems that I have Known and Loved
Bill Buxton, Microsoft Research, Updated 8/30/12

Even if you are not a designer or developer, I encourage you to explore some of the links below:

Touch Gestures for Application Design
Luke Wroblewski, 10/9/12

Common Misconceptions About Touch
Steven Hoober, 3/18/13

Designing With Tablets in Mind:  Six Tips to Remember
Connor Turnbull, Webdesign tuts+, 9/27/11

Finger-Friendly Design: IDeal Mobile Touchscreen Target Sizes
Anthony T, Smashing Magazine, 2/21/12

Best Practices: Designing Touch Tablet Experiences for Preschoolers (pdf)
Sesame Street Workshop

Are Touch Screens Accessible?
AcessIT, National center on Accessible Information Technology in Education

iOS Human Interface Guidelines

Android User Interface Guidelines
Using Touch Gestures
Handling Multi-Touch Gestures

Designing for Tablets?  We're Here to Help!
Roman Nurik, Android Developers Blog 11/26/12

Touch interaction design (Windows Store apps)
Microsoft - MSDN

Multi-Touch Systems that I have Known and Loved
Bill Buxton, Microsoft Research, Updated 8/30/12

Feb 14, 2013

Affinity+: Semi-Structured Brainstorming on Large Displays, from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The Affinity+ concept has the potential to be useful in educational settings such as schools, museums, and libraries. Although it was designed to support collaborative activities among software designers/developers, it could support a wide range of collaborative project-based learning activities. The clearly narrated video below was produced by a team from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

"Affinity diagraming is a powerful method for encouraging and capturing lateral thinking in a group environment. The Affinity+ Concept was designed to improve the collaborative brainstorm process through the use of large display surfaces in conjunction with mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. The system works by capturing the ideas digitally and allowing users to sort and group them on a large touch screen manually. Additionally, Affinity+ incorporates theme detection, topic clustering, and other processing algorithms that help bring structured analytic techniques to the process without requiring explicit leadership roles and other overhead typically involved in these activities." -PNNL


Affinity+ Semi-Structured Brainstorming on Large Displays
Russ Burtner, Richard May, Randy Scarberry, Ryan LaMothe, Alex Endert
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Information Visualization Core Area:  Natural User Interactions
Information Visualization Core Area:  User Experience
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Large Displays: Will it ever be enough? (pdf)

Richard May, Jim Thomas, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Although this paper is from 2006, it contains a discussion of the "Top Ten Research Challenges" associated with  large high-resolution displays:
A Survey of Large High-Resolution Display Technologies, Techniques, and Applications (pdf)
Tao Ni, Greg S. Schmidt, Oliver G. Staadt, Mark A Livingston, Robert Ball, Richard May
IEEE Virtual Reality Conference 2006, pp223-226 Virginia Tech, 2006

Advanced Visualization and Interaction Techniques for Large High-Resolution Displays (pdf)

Sebastian Thelen (in Ariane Middel, Inga Scheler, and Hans Hagen (eds.), Visualization of Large and Unstructured Data Sets - Applications in Geospatial Planning, Modeling and Engineering (IRTG 1131 Workshop), VLUDS 2010, March 19-21, 2010, Bodega Bay, CA, USA DOI: 10.4230/OASIcs.VLUDS.2010.73

Affinity Diagraming

Usability Net

Feb 12, 2013

Call for Papers: Human-Computer Interaction and the Learning Sciences

Below is the call for papers for a workshop that I'd like to attend!   (The information below was copied from the Surface Learning website.)

If you are interested in the intersection of learning and interactive surfaces,  the Surface Learning website provides an interdisciplinary forum for like-minded explorers.

Human-Computer Interaction and the Learning Sciences

Full-Day Pre-Conference Workshop, in conjunction with CSCL 2013, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

Submission deadline:15 April 2013
Notification of acceptance:29 April 2013
Early registration deadline:TBD
Workshop registration deadline:TBD
Workshop:15 June 2013


Both Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and the Learning Sciences (LS) are active research communities with established bodies of literature. As both have an interest in using computing technologies to support people, there is a natural synergy. However, the practices and values of the two fields are substantially different, leading to tensions felt by researchers who actively participate in both fields. They also make it harder for researchers in either field to move towards the other.

Recently, there has been increased interest in LS to acknowledge the importance of HCI. In his keynote at ICLS 2012, Pierre Dillenbourg made the case that many of the important problems of learning / education are not primarily addressed through innovations in learning theory (a particular emphasis in LS) but of addressing important problems through useful, usable, perhaps innovative designs (a particular emphasis in HCI). At the "Interactive surfaces and spaces: A learning sciences agenda" symposium later that day, the relationship between HCI and LS was heavily debated. That discussion continued in email form. What became clear is that the relationship is complex, viewed differently by different groups (LS researchers interested in HCI, HCI researchers interested in LS and interdisciplinary researchers) and needs to be improved.

Intended Audience

This workshop is intended to be both interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary:
  • For researchers at the intersection of the two fields (i.e., active participants in both communities), this workshop provides a forum for discussing interdisciplinary research with the aims of supporting the connection between the fields.
  • For HCI researchers interested in LS, this workshop provides an introduction to the learning sciences community (values, practices, literature, venues, etc.), an opportunity to receive LS feedback on your work and support for becoming part of the LS community.
  • For LS researchers interested in HCI, this workshop provides an introduction to Human-Computer Interaction (both the fundamentals taught in an introductory course and the research community), an opportunity to receive feedback on your work from HCI researchers and connections to experienced interdisciplinary researchers.


We offer two paths to participate in the workshop based on the CSCL 2013 theme: "To See the World and a Grain of Sand: Learning across Levels of Space, Time, and Scale." Send submission in either category tosubmit@surfacelearning.org by 15 April 2013. Submissions are not anonymous and should include all author names and contact details.

The World
We seek position papers on the critical issues in interdisciplinary HCI / LS work or visions of how to advance the relationship between HCI and LS. Topics include, but are not limited to: 
  • What core methods and principles of HCI might be of use to LS researchers?
  • How can LS researchers piggyback on the efforts of HCI research to make the newest technology available for development?
  • What theoretical foundations can LS offer to HCI researchers interested in using technology to support learning?
  • How do we better support true interdisciplinary researchers?
  • How do we promote academic exchange between the communities?
Position papers should be 2–4 pages in CSCL proceedings format. They will be publicly posted on the workshop website and should serve as a resource or discussion point. During the workshop, the position papers will be briefly presented (<10 minutes per presentation) to the entire group at the closing panel. The panel will use these presentations to reflect on the day's work and discuss possible future directions.

A Grain of Sand
One of the core values of HCI is that design (both the product and the process) matters. A great study of a lackluster, ill-conceived system is relatively useless. The time to reflect on and improve a design is during its formative stages (i.e., before it is finished). Here, we give attendees an opportunity to discuss design work in progress. We seek papers on preliminary projects, either before a system has been built (outlining the motivation) or during active development. Design papers should include motivation for the project (why is this necessary research?), related work (what are you building upon?), and a sketch of how you will proceed. The projects can be based in either an HCI or LS tradition of research.

Design papers should be 2–4 pages in CSCL proceedings format. They will be publicly posted on the workshop website. During the workshop, the papers will be briefly presented (<10 minutes per presentation) to a small group who will have time to give concrete feedback on the design / research from both HCI and LS perspectives (e.g., suggestions for improvement, related work).


Jochen RickJochen “Jeff” Rick is research associate / lecturer in the Department of Educational Technology (EduTech) at Saarland University, Germany. He received his PhD in the area of "Learning Sciences and Technologies" from the College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology in 2007. This will be his ninth ISLS conference. He has published in both JLS and ijCSCL and is on the editorial board of ijCSCL. He is also active in the HCI community, particularly the Interaction Design and Children community, serving as a full papers chair for the 2012 conference. He has experienced multiple perspectives on this interdisciplinary area: LS graduate student at an HCI powerhouse, postdoc in an HCI lab and junior faculty in an LS department. He has helped to organize four workshops, including one at CSCL 2002 and one at ICLS 2010. For two workshops, he successfully employed Open Space Technology, an organizing technique we plan to employ in this workshop.

Michael HornMichael Horn is an assistant professor at Northwestern University, USA where he directs the Tangible Interaction Design and Learning (TIDAL Lab). Michael holds a joint appointment in Computer Science and the Learning Sciences, and his research explores the role of emerging interactive technology in the design of learning experiences. His projects include the design of a tangible computer programming language for use in science museums and early elementary school classrooms; and the design of multi-touch tabletop exhibits for use in natural history museums. Michael has presented work at cross-disciplinary conferences including Interaction Design and Children (IDC), Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI), Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), ICLS, and AERA; he is on the editorial board for the Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Learning; and he is the program committee co-chair for ACM Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces (2012 and 2013). Michael also co-organized a workshop on Technology for Today’s Family at CHI 2012.

Roberto Martinez-MaldonadoRoberto Martinez-Maldonado is a PhD candidate in the Computer Human Adapted Interaction Research Group at The University of Sydney, Australia. His research focuses on analysing data generated when groups of students collaborate using shared devices to help teachers to be more aware about their learning processes and take informed decisions. His research grounds on principles of Human-Computer Interaction, CSCL, Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics; he makes use of a number of technologies including multi-touch interactive tabletops, tablets, kinect sensors and databases. He has presented work at interdisciplinary conferences that include Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS), Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED), Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces (ITS) CSCL, ICLS and Educational Data Mining (EDM). He lead the organisation of the workshop held in conjunction with ICLS 2012 titled Digital Ecosystems for Collaborative Learning. He has published papers at CSCL 2011, ICLS 2012 and other communities related with HCI and Artificial Intelligence in education.