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Canadian Scientists and Microsoft Researchers Present New Ways to Use and Interact With Computers at Home and Work


Global collaboration with academia and industry drives innovations that will change how people organize family schedules, search for information, use mobile technology and more.

MONTREAL — April 24, 2006 — This week, Microsoft Research carries on its tradition of collaboration and contribution at CHI 2006, the premier international conference for human-computer interaction (HCI). Following Microsoft Corp.’s open, academic approach to research, 92 percent of the Microsoft® papers accepted at the conference this year were authored in collaboration with 13 different university and industry partners.
“Microsoft researchers are long-standing collaborators in the HCI community, publishing and reviewing papers, sitting on boards and committees, and presenting their work for the past decade,” said Gary Olson, CHI 2006 conference chair. “Microsoft’s continued contributions at CHI demonstrate the company’s commitment to pushing the state of the art in the field.”
CHI is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interactions (ACM SIGCHI).
A History of CHI Tradition Pushes HCI Innovation
Microsoft’s active participation in the HCI field began in 1996 with the arrival of senior researcher George Robertson and his leadership role in the space. Robertson will be one of six scientists inducted in 2006 into the CHI Academy, an honorary group of those individuals who have made extensive contributions to the study of HCI. He follows fellow Microsoft senior researchers Bill Buxton, Susan Dumais and Jonathan Grudin to receive this honor.
Microsoft’s commitment to SIGCHI extends to its Executive Committee. Microsoft principal researcher Mary Czerwinski was recently elected to a second consecutive three-year term as ACM SIGCHI executive vice president. Microsoft researcher A.J. Brush was just elected vice president for membership and communications.
“Working with and sharing ideas with our academic and industry partners allows us to make the greatest impact with our research,” Brush said. “It’s an honor to join Mary on the Executive Committee, and I look forward to serving the HCI community in an elected capacity.”
HCI Research “LINC-ing” the Family; Making Personal Search and Organization Easy
One of the papers Brush co-authored for the conference, “LINC-ing” the Family: The Participatory Design of an Inkable Family Calendar,” is typical of the work Microsoft is presenting at CHI 2006. The research was done in collaboration with Carman Neustaedter, Ph.D., student at the University of Calgary and Microsoft Research intern, and it received a Best of CHI nomination from SIGCHI. It is one of three Microsoft papers nominated for Best of CHI this year.
The LINC paper presents innovative research into a digital, inkable calendaring system to be used in the kitchen and profiles technology designed to help families juggle the myriad activities of everyday life — from soccer games and piano lessons to doctor’s appointments, work schedules and more. The researchers found that coordination is not typically done through the family calendar; rather, the family calendar is a tool that provides family members with an awareness of activities and changes that in turn enables coordination. Thus, digital calendars should provide tools that enable families to use their own coordination routines and offer the flexibility of existing paper calendars.
“A paper calendar is at the heart of many families’ coordination routines, yet once family members leave the home, the information made available by the paper calendar is often inaccessible,” Neustaedter said. LINC brings one of the many benefits of technology into the home and unites the flexibility of paper calendars with the ability to digitize scheduling information. This makes the family’s calendar information available from virtually any location, be it a computer in the kitchen, a work PC, a mobile phone or even a Web browser at the Internet café.
“Home technologies must seamlessly move into the home and fit into the everyday routines that people already employ, or people will simply not use them. This is our goal for digital family calendars,” Neustaedter said. LINC was recently deployed in four family households, two in Seattle and two in Calgary.
Another Best of CHI-nominated paper presented by Microsoft this year, “Fast, Flexible Filtering with Phlat — Personal Search and Organization Made Easy,” outlines technology that enables search of a user’s ever-expanding stored personal information including e-mail, files and viewed Web pages. It aims to improve upon current technology by blurring the distinction between searching and browsing, and making it expedient to summon disparate types of relevant information by means of a simple, intuitive tagging system. The technology combines keyword and property-value search, allowing users to find information based on whatever they may remember, wherever that information may be stored. Phlat technology is available as a free download at
Microsoft Research Papers at CHI 2006
Microsoft contributed 11 percent of the total papers accepted at CHI 2006. The work Microsoft and its collaborators are presenting at the conference covers a broad range of areas including mobile devices, search, gaming, displays, digital photography, and pen-based and other input interfaces. Links to all the papers Microsoft Research contributed to this year’s CHI conference, as well as the Microsoft papers contributed at the 2005 and 2004 conferences, are available at
About Microsoft Research
Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research employs more than 700 people in five labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at
About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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