Dartmouth team visits tech symposium

by Autumn Dinh | 10/31/17 2:00am

A Dartmouth team presented four prototypes, including a modular smartphone and a calendar-linked smart ring at the 30th ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium. The forum, which took place in Quebec City from Oct. 22 to 25, was a chance for researchers to show off their innovations in human-computer interfaces and featured over 400 teams, each presenting their own research topics, according to General Chair of the conference Krzystof Gajos.

The event consisted of a series of paper presentations, live demonstrations of project prototypes and multiple talks, such as town halls and keynote presentations. Computer science professor Xing-Dong Yang served as the proceedings chair for the conference and led the Dartmouth team.

Computer science Ph.D. candidate Jun Gong said that Dartmouth had a particularly strong showing this year.

The four innovations are RetroShape, a shape-deforming tactile watch-back for smartwatches, Pyro, a thumb-tip gesture infrared sensor, a modular smartphone for lending and Frictio, a feedback mechanism for smart rings. Gong worked on Pyro.

“Pyro is inspired by Google’s project Soli, an interaction sensor that uses radar for motion tracking of the human hand,” Gong said. “The big difference between Pyro and Soli is that Pyro is more power efficient.”

Gong said that Pyro could be used with multiple devices, such as smart watches or glasses, and could be out in markets soon but could use further development. For example, Pyro currently only recognizes six gestures, which Gong wants to increase.

Both Yang and Gong said that the biggest challenge in developing Pyro was that no similar research was available. Yang said that they had to explore everything on their own and learn through the experiments.

“Pyro is inspired by Google, but Google doesn’t publish their papers so we had nothing but an idea to lean on,” Gong said. “It took us four months to complete Pyro.”

Gong’s favorite moment while working on Pyro was when they finished the demo.

“I was so satisfied and relieved that it actually worked,” he said.

Both Yang and Gong said that the conference went well.

“People’s reactions to our team’s products were very positive,” Gong said. “They asked me a lot of questions.”

Yang also said that in the conference, some big companies expressed interest in sponsoring their next researches.

Gong added that he was also a student volunteer who helped organize the conference, making the experience more fun for him. The duality of those roles also allowed him to meet more people than he would have otherwise, he said.

Gajos said that UIST 2017 was successful.

“What distinguishes UIST from other technology conferences are its intimate size and the intensive program, and we have worked really hard to bring about and enhance these values,” he said.

Correction Appended (Nov. 8, 2017):

The Oct. 31, 2017 article "Dartmouth team visits tech symposium" was updated to remove a sentence incorrectly stating that the Dartmouth research team was the first group to publish four papers at once in UIST history. Another researcher group has accomplished the feat before.

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