You also did the the high-precision touchscreen right? You talked about that. That was the lift-off keyboard. Right the lift-off. We actually pushed that high-precision idea all the way to the point of of selecting a single pixel on the screen. That was, you know, a bit of a trick in a little bit of a game that wasn’t really necessary but we showed that it could be done. So the touch screens we saw uses for home control devices, for mobile devices, a variety of things and even the slide to open. That was our work here. Wow! The slide to open was the work of my dear colleague Catherine Plaisant who’s a collaborator for 30 years here from 1987 onwards, and we’ve written more than a hundred papers together but she did the lead on the work of the slide to open and that was a key issue in the case two years ago of Apple versus Samsung and Catherine’s testimony in that case solidified, clarified that it was her work that made that idea happen. Okay. So we have a lot to be proud of here at Maryland and we were pioneers. Part of that is that in 1983 I founded the Human-Computer Interaction Lab here at Maryland. I’m very grateful to my dear colleague Azriel Rosenfeld, a superstar professor who early on appreciated the importance of studying human performance and the idea of human-computer interaction and he was forming the Center for Automation Research to house his research on computer vision. He also had a robotics lab and he invited me to start this human-computer interaction lab, which just celebrated its 35th anniversary. We’re now on the 8th director, Niklas Elmqvist, and it’s been one of those really nice stories. We were one of the largest and earliest of such labs in the world. We continued to have strong recognition for what we’ve done over these years. Well, what are some of the major accomplishments that have come out of HCI lab and HCI as a field? Whoa, there’s a whole lot I would say. You know there’s a lot to take credit for. The larger field which has grown and all around the world. Can take credit for the fact that, you know, what’s it about six billion people have something like this in their pockets and they can use it for getting information, being in touch, medical care, business, and so on and it was a movement that was really devoted to the user and making technology accessible to all. And so the idea that you had a device and you could operate it even if you were disabled, even if you were blind, even if you your language skills were low. We worked hard and all the people in this community, to make sure that universal usability was a possibility, and by making technology designed for many people I believe, and I think the evidence is pretty good, you raise the quality of that for everyone. So that devotion to universality helped raise quality and that’s a really satisfying and powerful impact. We had many small smaller parts of that along the way. The direct manipulation principle played out in our design of photo libraries and photo browsers and the idea of tagging a photo you know, list of the names of people in your family or colleagues and you drag the name onto the photo and it clicks in place. The photo finder that was a photo file. Right. The photo finder project was the source of that and I had a patent for the idea of photo tagging and of course that’s become widely influential. The university owned that patent and did sell it so we have again, you know, more evidence and clarity about the the contributions we made. Other things that were getting into the 90s where we shifted more and more toward visualizing information and the tree maps were one idea for that. So we had a lab with 14 students sharing a Mac computer with 80 megabytes hard drive and as you can imagine it filled up pretty often. Yeah. and there I was, trying to figure out who should I bother to clean their files up. who was using the most space? And it wasn’t so easy to find out when you have 14 different users signing on and so I was looking for a way that showed the whole hard drive in a single screen, not this long scrolling list with hierarchies of folders and many windows so on. But a single screen that with no scroll link where the areas were proportional to the size of the folder. So that I could look in one screen and see the 14 folders, see the size and know. And I worked on that for a long time and one day in the faculty lab having some coffee I had this aha moment and I thought I figured out how to do it. Took me three days to convince myself that it really would work under all circumstances and that was the idea that I called tree maps because it was a map like a 2D map of the tree structure of the hard drive. Okay. So the tree maps have gone on to be widely used as well for lots of information processing, a lot of journalism, you know, uses tree maps to show economic data and health data, stock market data, some of the most widespread uses are for financial and stock market data. So it’s pretty cool to see the entire stock market or 500 stocks of the Standard and Poor’s 500 – and see all at once. Each of the 500 is size coded by the market capitalization so Apple is the biggest one and of course Google, Facebook, Microsoft are big. The color-coding is by whether it’s gone up or down. So usually people do green if it’s going up and red if it’s going down and in one glance you can see how things are going. And the interesting thing is you can see if most of the screen is green but there’s one red blotch that’s interesting or mostly red and one green but and those things do happen. So it’s a very revealing way that I see is a natural outgrowth of direct manipulation. The whole screen was visible you click on that for more information or you zoom in on that area.

Tech Story: Ben Shneiderman, UMD Human-Computer Interaction Expert – Part 2
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One thought on “Tech Story: Ben Shneiderman, UMD Human-Computer Interaction Expert – Part 2

  • October 19, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Lift-off 0:00
    Apple vs. Samsung (Slide to Open) 0:45
    HCIL 1:09
    HCIL Accomplishments 2:10
    Universal Usability 2:45
    Photo-tagging 3:38
    Treemaps 4:25


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