myHCI-UX participation at CHI 2019 Glasgow

By: Masitah Ghazali
Event: CHI 2019, 4 – 9 May, Glasgow, UK

The ACM CHI is the premier international conference of Human-Computer Interaction and is one of the top ranked conferences in computer science. CHI has been annually held since the year 1982. The 2019 ACM CHI was held from the 4th till the 9th of May at Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow, and this was the first time it was organised in the UK. More than 4,000 attendees from around the globe gathered for this prestigious event. As of May 2019, ACM CHI has 56 local chapters, with 39% (22 chapters) in the Global South.

This year, four members of Kuala Lumpur ACM SIGCHI chapter, or also known as myHCI-UX, attended this event, Assoc. Prof. Dr Masitah Ghazali from UTM Skudai, Dr Haliyana Khalid from UTM KL, Dr Noris Norowi from UPM and Dr Hanif Baharin from UKM (Figure 1). The first three representatives participated in the Asian CHI Symposium (read more here: article by Noris), where Dr Masitah was also one of the co-organisers. Meanwhile, Dr Hanif participated in the art installation which was being demoed throughout the conference (read more here). The members also attended the chapter meeting organised by the ACM SIGCHI VP Chapter to report and brainstorm the wellbeing of chapters .

Fig 1. Malaysian representatives at CHI 2019 (from left: Dr Noris, Dr Haliyana, Dr Hanif, Dr Masitah

The event started off with 2-day programs of workshop and symposia. With 35 workshops and 6 symposia, the programs offered various close-knit discussion on specific yet diverse topics and interests. The official opening took place on the third day, i.e. on the 6th of May 2019. There were 14 parallel tracks going on simultaneously in a day from Monday to Thursday, with 5 paid courses offered to attendees.  As per mentioned during the opening, an increment of 18% papers submitted as compared to 2018, with a total of 1,298 accepted submissions in 2019. An analysis was made and shared with the audience, that highlighted the top 5 keywords emerged from these papers are VR, followed by accessibility, AR, privacy and design (more details refer http://bit.ly/chi-topics).

The topics were very diverse, which ranging from the typical ones such as AR/VR, user efficiency / modelling and tech for education and healthcare, and social media, to some controversial and critical topics such as social justice, intimate relationships, and genders. One paper which reported on gender and digital abuse in South Asia was one of the 29 CHI 2019 Best Papers. This year, the installations which took place at the hall had a special appearance by the Mixed Reality Lab (MRL) from University of Nottingham, UK, led by Prof Steve Benford, that marked their 20 years anniversary. Among the popular installations among the crowd were: Broncomatic (control a Bucking Bronco with breath), and VR Playground (seeing in the real world, while wearing a VR headset).

Overall, CHI 2019 surpassed our expectations. We are thrilled to learn all sorts of topics that were discussed at the conference and feel stimulated and inspired by what we witnessed throughout the event. There was also an improvement from the previous conference which it promoted more equity and inclusion initiatives such as badge pronounces, listening post, desensitisation room and prayer room. The only thing we noticed that fall short was the large crowd to attend a track session, which usually ended up with people queuing outside the room. It would be great if attendees can overview and select which track they want to attend beforehand, and have options to go to the ones which are still available. Apart from that, on a positive note, this year’s participation by our members is very encouraging. We hope to see more participation, especially from our members, be it as authors in papers track, symposiums, installations, posters, etc. or as committee members and even student volunteers! No work is big or small. Give your best and make your presence felt!

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