CHCI work addresses all aspects of the interplay between people and interactive technologies. We place special emphasis on two key research thrust areas: 3D Experiences and Social Informatics.

3D Experiences

3D Experiences

The 3D Experiences group of the Center for Human Computer Interaction comprises faculty from a diverse set of research domains and with interests in interaction techniques, fidelity, perception and cues, visualization of sensor data, the power of place, situated cognition, affect, situational awareness, sonification, and sense making, among others. This team of faculty has formed to coalesce effort around areas of common interest in order to become more than the sum of its constituent Parts.

Potential 3D Experiences research threads include:

Perception with large-scale, physical navigation
Collaborative awareness
Sense making
Visualization design
Sonification design
Going beyond physical space
• spaces/visualizations larger than the Cube
• breaking the perfect 1:1 mapping while retaining collaborationn capabilities
Technical infrastructure for distributed rendering, input, tracking
AR vs. VR for specific tasks or learning outcomes
Technical AR questions
Applications in education, journalism, architecture, scientific visualization intelligence, and art
Combining human sense making with machine learning for 3D data visualization
Measuring affect in collaborative visualization, using affect to predict insight

Social Informatics

Social Informatics refers to the body of interdisciplinary research and study that examines social aspects of computing. The Social Informatics Area at Virginia Tech focuses on human-computer interaction research and education as a critical and proactive program. We see that while we, as humans, have done a great job inventing and evaluating myriad ways to smoothly interact with information technology, we have also made a mess of things. In a relatively short period of time, computerization has moved from providing a counterpoint to life, with the potential to highlight and shade experience, to constituting a constant force, defining life as experienced. Computers have come to design human behavior and define the quality of life. We must observe, examine and understand what we are doing with technology, and what we could do differently in anticipation of social, economic and environmental impacts -- positive and negative -- on the quality of life and the public interest. From software to social networks to societies, students in particular will learn to take an active, thoughtful role in defining their own, and others’, relationships to interactive systems.

Social: From crowd work to networked social relationships, our technologies have redefined the social world. In contrast to HCI’s roots in personal computing, we are now deeply enmeshed in interpersonal computing. We study both mediated social realms and explore alternatives to them.

Information: Skills for generating and transforming information for greater insights, including systems thinking, computational thinking, proficiency in content creation and critical analysis, and design practice and peer critique. Our approach addresses the call for “21st Century” skills by focusing on the abstract ideas that underlie a knowledge economy, the technologies that enact them, and developing a reflexive and constitutive framework for innovating the “new”.

Research Highlights

Kurt Luther received NSF CAREER award for expert-led crowdsourcing research


HCI Research Highlight

Assistant professor of computer science and CHCI member Kurt Luther has been recognized by the National Science Foundation with a Faculty Early Career Development Award to study and improve the capabilities of crowdsourced investigations. Luther will use an innovative expert-led crowdsourcing approach to collect data using a platform called CrowdSleuth. The software will assist collaboration between crowds and experts, such as journalists, historians, and law enforcement, as they attempt to discover new information and verify details of investigations. More information can be found on the VT News article.

NSF Award on Global Event and Trend Archive Research (GETAR)


NSF III: Small Collaborative: Global Event and Trend Archive Research (GETAR)
Edward A. Fox (PI), Andrea Kavanaugh (co-PI), Donald Shoemaker (co-PI, Sociology), Chandan Reddy (co-PI, CS NOVA), and Jefferson Bailey (Collaborative Research co-PI at Internet Archive)

The GETAR project will devise interactive, integrated, digital library/archive systems coupled with linked and expert-curated webpage/tweet collections, covering key parts of the 1997-2020 timeframe, in collaboration with the Internet Archive (IA) and colleagues from diverse disciplines. Supporting research on urgent global challenge events and initiatives, the project will allow diverse stakeholder communities to interactively collect, organize, browse, visualize, study, analyze, summarize, and explore content and sources related to biodiversity, climate change, crises, disasters, elections, energy policy, environmental policy/planning, geospatial information, green engineering, human rights, inequality, migrations, nuclear power, population growth, resiliency, shootings, sustainability, violence, etc. GETAR will leverage VT research on Web archiving, HCI, digital libraries, information retrieval, machine learning, discovery analytics, and natural language processing. Those interested in participating are invited to contact any of the co-PIs. Read more.

Kurt Luther and T.M. Murali (PIs) receive NIH Award


The project titled "Using Crowdsourced Design to Visualize Effects of Environmental Chemicals on Signaling Networks" was awarded $ 600,000 over two years. This research involves the development of a web-based system called GraphSpace to enable citizen scientists and non-experts to improve visual representations of processes within the cell that are affected by environmental chemicals. GraphSpace will assist molecular biologists and toxicologists in discovering hypotheses about how these chemicals may harm human health. This grant is also a collaboration with Zooniverse, the largest online citizen science portal. Check out the NIH project information.

CHCI research presented at IDC 2016 in Manchester, UK


CHCI research presented at IDC 2016 in Manchester, UKCHCI research by PhD student Panagiotis Apostolellis and Professor Doug Bowman was presented at the 15th international ACM SIGCHI conference on Interaction Design and Children in Manchester, UK (21-24 June 2016). Panagiotis' research investigates effective ways of involving young audiences with digital games and virtual environments during group visits in informal learning contexts, such as museums and science centers. This work, which is part of his doctoral dissertation, was featured during the conference dinner inside the Imperial War Museum of Manchester. More information about Panagiotis research can be found on his personal website.

CHCI's presence at CHI'16 conference in San Jose


CHCI had quite a prominent presence in the Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) conference in San Jose, CA. This was the largest CHI conference so far, with 3,876 attendees and 20 tracks of technical program. CHCI faculty and students participated in Workshops, the Student Research Competition, and the Video Showcase. More specifically the entries were:

Panagiotis Apostolellis & Doug Bowman with a paper: Supporting Social Engagement for Young Audiences with Serious Games and Virtual Environments in Museums at the Workshop: Involving the Crowd in Future Museum Design Experiences.
Maoyuan Sun, Peng Mi, Hao Wu, Chris North, Naren Ramakrishnan with a paper: "Usability Challenges underlying Bicluster Interaction for Sensemaking" at the Workshop: Human Centered Machine Learning.
Anamary Leal and Steve Harrison with a paper: "Practical Meaning Construction of Fabric Materials in Maker Situations" at the Workshop: Fabrication & HCI: Hobbyist Making, Industrial Production, and Beyond.
Nai-Ching Wang (advisor: Dr. Kurt Luther) with a Student Research Competition paper/poster (finalist): "Crowdnection: Connecting High-level Concepts with Historical Documents via Crowdsourcing."

Kurt Luther was a co-chair of the Video Showcase session.