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January 18, 2012

Speaker: Dr. Mark Hancock, Assistant Professor, Department of Management Sciences, University of Waterloo

Title: Leveraging Physical Actions to Interact with Digital Surfaces

Abstract: Recent advances in digital technology, such as multi-touch phones and tables, Nintendo's Wii, and Microsoft's Kinect, have made it possible to sense movement of our fingers, hands, and bodies. With these technologies, it not only becomes possible to think of our bodies as an input device for technology, but also to start thinking about the virtual world as an extension of our bodies. In the Touchlab, we investigate the possibility of becoming physically embodied with virtual tools as a means of interacting with technology. I will present studies that investigate human perception, and present solutions that leverage people's understanding of the physical world using examples such as an interactive table for sand tray therapy---a form of art therapy often used with children---and a technique for exploring 2D information as if it were on a virtual cloth.

Biography: Professor Mark Hancock is an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Management Sciences. Before starting at the University of Waterloo, he completed his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Calgary and his MSc in Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. Beyond his formal education, he has conducted research in designing interaction for multi-touch surfaces and other collaborative devices in industry at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs and Intel Corporation, and in academia at Queen's University and Simon Fraser University.