Microsoft Research Celebrates the Past, Present and Future of Human-Computer Interaction at CHI 2008 Conference

FLORENCE, Italy — April 7, 2008 — This week in the city Leonardo da Vinci called home, academics and researchers from around the globe are gathering for CHI 2008, the annual conference of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI). Scientists from Microsoft Research labs in Asia; Cambridge, England; India; and Redmond, Wash., will participate to present their latest innovations in a broad range of human-computer interaction research.

CHI 2008 accepted 20 papers from Microsoft Research (12 percent of the total papers accepted at this year’s conference). In its continued commitment to drive the state of the art in technology through open collaboration, Microsoft Research wrote 16 of the 20 papers with academic partners from 12 universities around the globe. Following are three examples of the papers Microsoft Research will present at the conference:

  • “BlindSight: Eyes-Free Access to Mobile Phones.” Written in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego, this paper examines audible ways of accessing information stored on mobile devices during a conversation. The need to check a calendar or contact list on a mobile device while speaking with someone on that device is not uncommon. blindSight allows users to access information on their device audibly rather than visually, without interruption of a conversation. Audible feedback is heard only by the user, not the person on the other end of the line. A video demonstration and additional information on blindSight can be found at

  • “Mischief: Supporting Remote Teaching in Developing Regions.” This paper outlines a joint project with Microsoft researchers and academic partners from China, India and the U.S. to create an application for remote classroom learning. Even when instructors in rural areas are available, they can lack subject expertise, may be overworked or have high rates of absenteeism. The Mischief system connects a classroom of students to a central monitor, allowing teachers in another location to lead and interact with the class. The Mischief user interface allows numerous students to engage simultaneously, supports anonymous responses, and communicates a focus of attention.

  • “MySong: Automatic Accompaniment Generation for Vocal Melodies.” Created in tandem with the University of Washington, MySong brings a first glimpse of the songwriting experience to people who might not otherwise ever try to create their own music. A user sings into a microphone, and MySong automatically selects chords to accompany the recorded voice, then lets the user manipulate those chords using interactions designed to be intuitive to non-musicians. This lets users with no musical background experiment with music composition. A video demonstration, audio samples and additional information about MySong can be found at

The 20 papers Microsoft Research will present at CHI 2008 cover a broad range of subject areas that include interactive image search; physiological sensing for input; mobile interaction; multiple and large displays; cognition, perception, and memory; health and wellness; and collaboration and cooperation. Two of the papers, “An Error Model for Pointing Based on Fitts’ Law” and “Large Scale Analysis of Web Revisitation Patterns,” received Best of CHI awards; three others papers were nominated. The SIGCHI Best of CHI Program is designed to recognize outstanding work in the field of human-computer interaction by selecting and honoring exceptional submissions to SIGCHI-sponsored conferences. A complete list of the Microsoft Research papers accepted at CHI 2008, as well as the Microsoft Research papers presented at the annual CHI conference back to 2004, can be found at

The annual CHI conference is the world’s leading forum for the human-computer interaction community to discuss the latest breakthroughs and innovations in helping computers and humans connect and communicate. “Our strong participation in CHI 2008 reflects our broader emphasis on open collaboration with the worldwide research community,” said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research. “Close connections between private-sector researchers and universities provide the fundamental brainpower that drives the state of the art in the technology industry. Microsoft is constantly deepening its partnership with academia and is committed to jointly developing new ideas and tackling many of the key challenges in human-computer interaction.”

In Microsoft’s continued leadership role in the HCI community, its researchers hold several senior leadership positions on this year’s conference committee. Mary Czerwinski, research area manager of the human-centered computing (HCC) groups and manager of the Visualization and Interaction (VIBE) research group, is the co-chair of the conference along with Arnie Lund, director of User Experience, Microsoft IT. Microsoft researcher Desney Tan is the technical program chairman. Several other Microsoft researchers hold leadership positions as well.

“CHI is the preeminent gathering place for researchers and social scientists around the world who are engaged in improving the computing user experience,” said Czerwinski. “Human-computer interaction and design are central to the future of computing. CHI brings together the greatest minds in HCI research, helping to facilitate integration and driving solutions through shared research finding and collaboration.”

Also at this year’s conference, Microsoft researcher Bill Buxton will be presented with the CHI Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented to individuals for outstanding contributions to the study of human-computer interaction, recognizing the very best work in shaping the field. Buxton, a pioneer in HCI research and user interface design, joined Microsoft Research in 2005 to collaborate with various groups in Microsoft’s research labs around the world and bring his insight to a number of projects. He will deliver the CHI 2008 closing plenary titled “From the Materialistic to the Experiential — A Changing Perspective on Design” on April 10.

Microsoft Research’s participation in CHI 2008 comes on the heels of another major HCI announcement on April 2, by Microsoft Research Cambridge, which, together with participants of the HCI 2020 Forum, launched a report into the future of HCI titled “Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020.”

The report is the culmination of debate and research at the two-day HCI 2020 Forum in March 2007, attended by 45 internationally distinguished academics from the fields of computing, design, management science, sociology and psychology as well as commercial organizations. The report considers how the field of HCI has changed and matured over the past 20 years, how the design of computers is helping to create a new socio-digital landscape, and what HCI might look like in the year 2020. Seven recommendations are made at the end of the report about making HCI research and design more relevant to today’s world.

The full report and related reader’s guide are available at

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research currently employs more than 800 people in six labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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