Human-Computer Interaction

Research lines:

  • User Interfaces
  • Usability Engineering and Accessibility
  • Information Visualization
  • Automated Personalization and Adaptation in Web-based Learning
  • Web-based Social Collaborative Learning
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Members:

Tiziana Catarci (leader), Massimo Mecella, Giuseppe Santucci, Marco Temperini.

 

PhD Students:

Claudio Di Ciccio, Andrea Marrella, Shah Rukh Humayoun.

 

Post Docs:

Massimiliano de Leoni

 

Human-Computer interaction (HCI) is the study of the interaction between people (users) and computers. Such an interaction traditionally occurs at the user interface, but its effectiveness is strongly related with the design of the entire interactive system, referring in particular to the way in which it supports the user in achieving her/his goals and executing her/his tasks. Indeed, an important facet of HCI is the securing of the interactive system usability. The research group started working on HCI topics during the late '80s, while developing a visual interface for databases. This pioneering work can be regarded as one of the first and most significant examples of deep analysis and formalization of the interaction between the user and the database, which takes into consideration both usability issues and language related aspects.

 

Following these lines, the group developed another relevant research topic, namely the definition of adequate visual representations of the databases, in terms of both schema and instances. Note that using a consistent visual representation to depict the information of interest is crucial in order for the user to correctly grasp the database information content. Related with visual representation is information visualization, i.e. the use of computer-based, visual, interactive representations of information with the purpose of making sense out of data, acquire knowledge, discover new information, and effectively present the result. 

 

In the last years we focused on clutter reduction for information visualization analyzing the visual issues associated with the use of density maps focusing on the correct assignment of visual variable values to a data domain, taking into account its frequency distributions. Other HCI topics are also investigated, including the study of specific usability, accessibility, and adaptivity methodological aspects, the interaction with different realms, e.g. digital libraries, cultural artifacts, mobile and ubiquitous systems, e-learning environments.

 

Designing interactive systems that could be effectively, efficiently and with satisfaction used by people exhibiting different characteristics, needs, preferences and abilities is getting more and more important in Information Technology research and development, as it is clearly demonstrated by the growing importance of the user role in research projects as well as in public administration developments, by the introduction in several Laws of precise usability and accessibility requirements for governmental information systems, by the continuous increase of funding for HCI-related research at EU and international level.

 

We have been among the pioneers of the research in this field in Europe, in particular in the effort of giving formal basis to the definition of interaction while considering human-related, perceptual aspects. We are still continuing in this direction, in particular by working on a machine-interpretable and machine-learnable model of user task that will be the basis for a novel task-oriented interaction model, to be tested in personal information environments. Furthermore, innovative interaction styles, e.g. brain-computer interfaces, ubiquitous and sensor-based environments, extreme visualizations, are under study, as well as novel design methodologies, advancing traditional user-centered design both with the injection of agile concepts and directly encompassing accessibility aspects.

 

Projects:

SM4All - Smart homes for all

September  2008 - August  2011  -  EU FP7

 

WORKPAD - An Adaptive Peer-to-Peer Software Infrastructure for Supporting Collaborative Work of Human Operators in Emergency/Disaster Scenarios

September  2006 - August  2009  -  EU FP6

 

DELOS - Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries

January  2004 - December  2008  -  EU FP6

 

VisMaster - Coordination Action on Visual Analytics

August 2008 – July 2010  - EU FP7

 

QUIS - QUality, Interoperability and Standards in e-learning

February  2005 - April 2007  -  EU FP6

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