Daniel Vogel and colleagues form Inria Associate Team to explore input for real-time interaction

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Professor Daniel Vogel at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, Professor Géry Casiez at France’s University of Lille, and researchers Mathieu Nancel and Sylvain Malacria at the Inria centre at the University of Lille, have been funded to create an Associate Team at Inria — France’s National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology. Inria’s Associate Team program fosters bilateral scientific collaboration on jointly defined scientific objectives for three years while promoting and strengthening partnerships with leading researchers abroad.

The research consortium, titled INPUT, is focused on re-designing the input pipeline in interactive systems. The international team will mentor two master’s and two PhD candidates across the two universities. Their project will explore input for real-time interaction — how input is sensed, how it is transformed, how it is used, and most importantly how to give control of input across all of these aspects back to users and interaction designers.

“Géry and I have collaborated for more than 15 years. We first met when he was a postdoctoral researcher and I was a PhD student at the University of Toronto,” said Professor Vogel. “Our work together resulted in more than 20 research papers. Most of these were presented at ACM CHI and ACM UIST, the top conferences in human-computer interaction research. I’m very much looking forward to working closely with Géry, my former postdoctoral researcher Mathieu, as well as Sylvain and the graduate students we will mentor together at the Universities of Waterloo and Lille.”

Professor Daniel Vogel in Waterloo's Peter Russell Rock Garden

Professor Daniel Vogel studies the fundamental characteristics of human input and novel forms of interaction for current and future computing form factors such as touch, tangibles, mid-air gestures, and whole-body input, for everything from on-body wearable devices and mobile phones to large displays and virtual reality.

About the research focus of the INPUT consortium

Desktop and mobile computing, and now augmented and virtual reality systems, all process complex inputs. However, for input to be useable, a user’s movements and gestures need to be captured by sensors then filtered, transformed, and interpreted by the system to trigger appropriate responses and to provide feedback. Even tasks as routine as controlling a cursor on a screen involve continuous visuo-motor control to which the system must respond accurately and quickly. Modern user interfaces use multi-step input pipelines between the user’s movements and the system’s feedback, but often they are opaque. Each step strongly affects the next and they collectively determine the result of the pipeline.

However, these pipeline steps are often designed in isolation and tuned by trial and error using legacy or ad hoc approaches with little thought or knowledge of the underlying psychomotor phenomena. This approach not only limits performance and experience in everyday computer use, but it also hinders the design and adoption of new devices and sensing methods.

The goal of INPUT is to explore and address knowledge gaps in the design of continuous input pipelines. This includes a deeper understanding of how people perceive, decide, and act in real-time tasks involving these pipelines, and the principles and methods to improve the design of each pipeline step. 

The proposed research will involve methods and tools from human-computer interaction, experimental psychology, machine learning, and control theory. The proposed research program will discover and establish generalizable guidelines, methods, and algorithms to build input pipelines whose steps can fit and adapt to any user, system, or device. By building knowledge and tools focused on the sensing, processing, and transforming of input, the Associate Team’s objective is to fundamentally redesign the input pipeline for current and future interactive systems.

The INPUT Associate Team expects to disseminate its findings in leading journals and at the top international human-computer interaction conferences. The main long-term benefit of this project will be to lower the barrier to entry to use digital products by improving user performance with interactive systems. Even though this project has much practical relevance to industry, the research the team will conduct is in many ways fundamental given the lack of scientific methods developed to address the problem of input pipelines.

Previous Waterloo–Inria Associate Teams and International Research Chairs

Curious Tech
Led by Professor Edith Law at the Cheriton School of Computer Science and Professor Hélène Sauzéon at Université de Bordeaux, Curious Tech is creating educational technologies that use curiosity as the key ingredient to meet the learning needs of individuals across all ages and cognitive abilities to enhance their health and well-being.

Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Éric Schost is the Waterloo principal investigator on Symbolic, an Inria Associate Team focusing on symbolic computation research.

NetMSS — NETwork Monitoring and Service orchestration for Softwarized networks
2018–2020; renewed 2022–2024
NetMSS is an Associate Team formed between Inria RESIST and the University of Waterloo focusing on network softwarization and network security. NetMSS is led by Jérôme François, Inria Research scientist, and by Raouf Boutaba, Professor and Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science. Professor Boutaba also held an Inria International Research Chair (2017–2022) attached to Inria RESIST at Nancy Grand-Est.

Loki’s research explored original ideas, fundamental knowledge, and practical tools to inspire, inform and support the design of human-computer interactions. The late Professor Edward Lank held an Inria International Research Chair attached to the Loki team at the Inria Centre at the University of Lille.

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