Current Research Projects
Our interests are in the following four areas:

Pointing Devices and Haptic Interaction

For the past seven years we have investigated, with help from Steve Keele and Mike Posner in the Universtiy of Oregon Psychology Dept., the rich body of psychological literature on human rapid aimed movement (pointing) with the purpose of better understanding computer-mediated pointing. Two previous areas of research focus have been the evaluation of keyboard-based pointing devices, and the explanation of human performance differences between isotonic (mouse) and isometric (joystick) pointing devices. The results of that research have been published in several papers and a book, The ergonomics of computer pointing devices, (Springer-Verlag, 1997). Much of this work has been done in collaboration with former Ph.D. student Kartik Mithal, who received his Ph.D. degree in August 1995, and current Ph.D. student Arthur Kirkpatrick.

Current research projects in this area:

Software for Pointing Device Experiments

We have developed WinFitts, a program for running two-dimensional Fitts experiments on Windows 95 and NT. The program is available for use and modification by other groups performing pointing device research (Download Winfitts).

User Interface Design for WWW Scientific Databases

Our research group has spent the past two years creating a Web-based genetics database for the Zebrafish science community. This project, sponsored by NSF grant BIR95-07401, is one part of the broad research goals of the Human Genome Project: to establish species-specific genetics databases. Because approximately 25 such databases are now on the Web with many more in the planning stages, it is critical that they meet the needs of the scientific community. In response, our research has focused on developing a human-centered and distributed participatory design approach that can be used by other developers to create useful and usable systems.

Current research projects in this area:

Computer Mediation of Social Interaction

Earlier work in this area by the Interactive Systems Group was the doctoral dissertation work of Eck Doerry. His 1995 dissertation examined transcribed dialogues of pairs of users performing shared work-space tasks with face-to-face, audio link, and audio-video link environments. Using a systematic classification of communication breakdowns (topic, turn-taking, and reference) and a set of heuristics for categorizing events into these breakdown categories, his results support that of similar studies: face-to-face communication has significantly fewer breakdowns than either technologically-mediated environment, with video providing no additional advantage.

Our work developing the Web-based genetics database for the Zebrafish science community has lead to a new and exciting research topic for us: technologies for social interaction on the Web. Social interaction is achieved by the use of Internet tools such as email, bbs, chat and MOOs linked through the information resources of the HTML home page. This type of computer-mediated social interaction differs significantly from the typical computer conferencing in interaction medium, time frame of interaction and type of group.

Current research projects in this area:

Algorithm Visualization and Learning

Doctoral student Chris Hundhausen has been working in the area of learning and algorithm visualization for his dissertation using techniques of ethnography to study classroom use of algorithm visualization tools. His approach is based on work by Lave on learning and Suchman on visualizations as representations for communication. This is an extension of earlier empirical work done on 1) usability studies of existing visualization software; and 2) interaction analysis of how people actually visualize algorithms using a technique we developed called visualization storyboarding.

Current research projects in this area: