CHI 2012!

Posted on May 16, 2012

There’s just so much to be said about this conference, I don’t think it can be contained in a post.

So CHI2012 this year was pretty awesome. Held in Austin Texas, and even though the water made me sick for some reason, still a fun experience. Also, I didn’t take hardly enough photos.

I showed up early because I was a part of the workshop on healthcare and aging as that’s where my presentation was. I met a lot of awesome people with great projects for elder care including (but not limited to) some girls from Standford who rocked a program called MILES which is a lot like our smart phone program called PUCK that prompts the user to do certain things. Ours also does activity recognition. Also, a couple of women from England who filled us in on how to get your focus group attendees to be more talkative. They say offer tea and cakes, I think in America it’s coffee and bagels or donuts. And a company who makes a tablet for reminding users of things they need to do throughout the day.

Then the conference started with far too many talks to go see with many of them conflicting! But I went to every session to see something and often hopped from room to room. The opening speaker really got us off to a good start, Margaret Gould Stewart from YouTube who talked about how we share media and make it our own.

Then, off to the talks! I mostly did elder care, healthcare, or video games (simply because they’re fun). I learned a lot about video game development, for all ages, and how to design better for our older adults. I have a few pictures, but the ones that turned out well were all from the talk where they had a TV and snow globes with pictures of local area things and when you put the snow globes on the TV it played a video that helped the user to bring up old memories. It was all very interesting.

I learned other things, like that crowd sourcing your data may not be a great idea. That older adults like to play video games if they emulate things they’re used to. That video game tutorials are only necessary if it’s a complex game. And that someone made an app for your iPad that uses the camera to orient itself to the way you’re facing (but that’s not out yet). SOOOO much!

It ended with a talk by Hugh Herr from MIT who made a mechanical prothetic leg that emulates the way your ankle and knee work so that walking feels normal. It was some of the most amazing tech I saw the whole conference.

If you can’t tell in the picture (look closely) he’s wearing two of them, because he lost both of his legs in a climbing accident. It was an incredibly moving talk.

This and much much more are the reasons why CHI is my favorite conference of the year, this year AND last year. I may not be a computer scientist or engineer, but it’s great content, great parties, and I always feel welcome at this conference. If you’re in the area or are interested at all I highly recommend it.