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BBL Speaker Series: Connecting Realities for Fluid Computer-Mediated Communication

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Speaker: Seongkook Heo, Assistant Professor, CS, University of Virginia

Location: HBK 2105 and Zoom Slides Here!

Abstract: Computers are more deeply integrated into our daily lives than ever before, and recent advancements in ML and AI technologies enable computers to comprehend the real world. However, using such capabilities for daily tasks still induces friction because of inefficient interactions with them.

In this talk, I will share my group’s research on how we can better connect the physical and virtual worlds through the design and development of interactive systems. First, I will discuss how we can bring objects and interactions of the physical world into the virtual world to make virtual communication rich and frictionless. In many computer-mediated meetings, we not only share our faces and voices but also physical objects. We developed a remote meeting system that supports the instant conversion of physical objects into virtual objects to allow efficient sharing and manipulation of objects during the conversation.

Second, I will share how we can physicalize computation results into physical actions. Many projects and applications have demonstrated the use of AI in assisting users with visual impairments. However, computers usually only provide guidance feedback to the user and leave the interpretation of the feedback and the execution to the user, which can be cognitively heavy tasks. We suggested automated hand-based spatial guidance to bridge the gap between guidance and execution, allowing visually impaired users to move their hands between two points automatically. Finally, I will discuss the implications and remaining challenges in bridging the two realities.

Bio: Seongkook Heo is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Virginia. He has been working on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research, focusing on bridging the gap between physical and virtual worlds to make computers better support rich and nuanced human interactions by designing novel interactive systems and developing sensing and feedback technologies. His research has been published at top HCI venues, including CHI, UIST, and CSCW, and recognized by Best Paper and Poster Awards at CHI, MobileHCI, and IEEE VR. He is also the recipient of the Engineering Research Innovation Award at the University of Virginia and the Meta Research Award. He received his Ph.D. at KAIST and worked at the University of Toronto as a postdoctoral researcher before joining the University of Virginia.