HCI/d students headed to OzCHI24 2016 finals


Students from the Human-Computer Interaction/design program at the School of Informatics and Computing at IU are headed to Oz.

A team of three graduate students from the Human-Computer Interactive/design program, AnnaRose Girvin, Bhavesh Anand, and Sarah Kiner, were selected as finalists in the OzCHI24 2016 Challenge, an international student design competition that has been held in conjunction with the Australian Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. The competition asked students to design a concept, write a paper, create a blog, and shoot and produce a video about a topic to be presented within 24 hours of the topic being introduced.

This year’s competition focused on enhancing well-being in aging populations.

Girvin, Anand, and Kiner dubbed their team “The Inquisitors,” and they came up with a concept to aid social belonging for people over the age of 60. Through interviews with a range of people, The Inquisitors discovered that grandparents wanted to connect with their grandchildren as a way to build their sense of belonging but contact was infrequent and stilted because of a lack of common topics. Grandchildren, meanwhile, valued conversations with their grandparents but found it difficult to initiate a conversation.

Using artificial intelligence and GPS technology, The Inquisitors suggested an app to bridge the connection gap between grandparents and their grandchildren. By inputting biographical information about the grandparent, the app’s combination of AI and GPS could prompt a user about where and when events in their grandparent’s life may have taken place. The app also could suggest a question or two to ask a grandparent via a text message or a phone call.

“We kept this relatively open, mainly because of the 24-hour time limit,” Girvin says. “As a team, we talked about the grandparent filling out basic questions, such as their birthdate, place of their birth, occupation, city of college attended, etc., and then the AI would select significant historical information or facts as conversation starters.”

The Inquisitors were one of three teams selected to compete in the finals of the OzCHI24 2016 Challenge, which will be held in Launceston, Tasmania, Nov. 29-Dec. 2. The team from IU is the first North American team to reach the finals since the contest began in 2009.

Another IU group of HCI/d master’s students was one of three teams to make the short list of entrants who were considered for the finals. Nava Teja Tummalapalli, Prashanth Narayanan, Mehul Agarwal, and Chetan Bhatia designed plans for a device called “Hobbyt” (pronounced Hobbit) that would function as a teaching/learning device for retired users through the use of audio and video projections.

“Our students’ achievement in getting this far showcases a key aspect of our program,” says Jeffrey Bardzell, the director of the HCI/d program. “It shows that research and design practice go hand-in-hand, that we are a well-rounded program. Competitions like this push students to their own limits. They often surprise themselves by what they are able to achieve.”