My very last business trip for SAP brought me to fabulous Las Vegas – to not only experience that dessert city in the middle of July, but, more importantly, to present our latest innovation at this year’s Human Computer Interaction International Conference.
A large conference
I’d never before visited at a conference which covered such a huge number of sessions – in addition to roughly 350 paper presentations (out of the 1100+ papers published), they offered more than 20 half-day tutorials and exhibited more than 200 posters. 1700 participants from 74 countries visited the event and the conference program itself covered almost 100 pages.
Needless to say, that it wasn’t easy to organize yourself through the event. Ant that’s not only because of the content – the venue itself was huge and the distance to cover from my hotel room at Caesars Palace, through casinos, dining, and shopping areas to the Conference Center (of the same hotel!) was close to 1km.
With its 14 affiliated conferences (such as, for example, 10th International Conference on Cross-Cultural Design; 7th International Conference on Design, User Experience and Usability; 5th International Conference on Learning and Collaboration Techniques), HCII seemed to be focusing more on the scientific (vs. pragmatic) side of UX. In comparison to conferences like Interaction or M&C, it was lacking centrally organised networking events (other than the conference reception). The quality of presentations ranged from very hard to follow or missing relevance to great insights and humorous science.
“Technology in Support of Healthy Habits”
The conference’s opening key note speech was held by Microsoft’s Mary Czerwinsky, a principal researcher and research manager, who spoke about affective computing, wearable-free sensing, conversational UIs, and the importance of attractiveness vs. reliability of chatbots. Already today, enough usage data is being captured for companies being able to draw conclusions about their users’ state of minds and emotions – by systematically evaluating text semantics, tone of voice, facial expressions, or even the way you type. According to Czerwinsky, the goal is to create digital agents that you want to use, because they know you and thus are able to help you. It’s not about a chatbot pretending to be human, but a digital agent reacting in a human way.
She continued to present a couple of case studies; starting with ParentGuardian, which provides parents small hints on how to behave in specific situations with ADHD children, while measuring the parents’ stress-factor using smart bracelets. Another example was Chewie; an app which predicts about-to-eat moments for just in time eating intervention. By combining the ability to identify behavioural patterns with the development of trustworthy, reliable, and attractive conversational user interfaces, even agent-based psychological interventions can and will be created.
Fitness, Health and Wearables
One of the personally relevant tracks for me I found on Wednesday – within Social Computing and Social Media I discovered a couple of sessions specifically focusing on activity trackers in the everyday life – seen from a rather scientific perspective. It started with a comparison of different fitness tracking reward programs in Germany and Australia, giving an outlook about how health insurances might motivate us in sharing even more data with them. Another presentation shared insights on data privacy of fitness trackers, whereas the third presenter talked about the relationship between people’s activity levels and their network sizes: the more followers you have the more likely you are to repeat exercising. The last of this track’s presentation discussed reasons why users join fitness communities on Facebook.
The main reason, though, for my trip to HCII Las Vegas was presenting EUREKA, based on a paper my colleague Panos and I submitted a couple months back. EUREKA stands for “Engineering Usability Research Empirical Knowledge and Artifacts” and summarises a methodology and tool that facilitates a structured yet flexible iterative process to qualitative data analysis. Based on the fact that collecting, analysing, sorting, and making sense of the data collected during a usability test study is a time-consuming task that requires a lot of effort, we studied on one hand a methodological perspective to usability tests data analysis and on the other hand created a tool that could provide the features and functionalities to realise this method, in various situations, scenarios and projects. Currently, EUREKA is available as a functional Excel prototype, consisting of five distinctive modules, allowing users to step-by-step analysing their qualitative and quantitative test data, prioritising findings, finding, evaluating and tracking their solutions.
The method itself is based on principles of theoretical directions, like Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory whereby knowledge is a result of a transformational experience and Engeström’s Activity Theory – Learning by Expanding, that the activity (i.e., data analysis) itself constitutes the medium for learning and development, through active collaboration, reflection and contradiction. Therefor, EUREKA was presented within the track of “Learning and Collaboration Technologies”. For a closer look to the idea of EUREKA, please have a look at the video above. A more detailed description will be published at SAP UX Community Blog in September 2018, please find the link below.
If you want to know more, please feel free to refer to a couple of resources:
EUREKA Conference Paper
Germanakos P. & Fichte L. (2018). “EUREKA: Engineering Usability Research Empirical Knowledge and Artifacts – An Experience-based Expansive Learning Approach”, Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI 2018), Las Vegas, Nevada, July 15-20, 2018, Lecture Notes in Computer Science 10924, Springer, pp. 85-103