The 7th ACM SIGCHI Symposium on
Engineering Interactive Computing Systems

Duisburg, Germany — June 23–26, 2015

University of Duisburg-Essen and Fraunhofer IMS


Daniel Wigdor Daniel Wigdor, University of Toronto

The Breadth/Depth Dichotomy: a Force for Mediocrity in Commercial User Interface Technologies

Abstract: Those seeking to build commercial software (or “content”) face a dilemma: given the wide range of platforms and the even wider range of sensing and output capabilities, they are forced to choose between designing once for a “lowest-common-denominator” platform (breadth) or significantly redesigning their software for each hardware capability (depth). Simultaneously, new platforms are starved for content, and usually wither and die due to a lack of software which takes advantages of their platforms.

In this talk, I will describe this dichotomy, present a discussion of a wide range of innovative UI technologies which have failed for precisely this reason, and discuss the research community's attempts at a solution. Finally, we will discuss the “call to action”: finding a way out of this platform-killing conundrum.

Biography: Daniel Wigdor is an assistant professor of computer science and co-director of the Dynamic Graphics Project at the University of Toronto. His research is in the area of human-computer interaction, with major focuses on the architecture of highly-performant UI’s, on development methods for ubiquitous computing, and on post-WIMP interaction methods. Before joining the faculty at U of T in 2011, Daniel was a researcher at Microsoft Research, the user experience architect of the Microsoft Surface Table, and a company-wide expert in user interfaces for new technologies. Simultaneously, he served as an affiliate assistant professor in both the Department of Computer Science & Engineering and the Information School at the University of Washington. Prior to 2008, he was a fellow at the Initiative in Innovative Computing at Harvard University, and conducted research as part of the DiamondSpace project at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs. He is co-founder of Iota Wireless, a startup dedicated to the commercialization of his research in mobile-phone gestural interaction, and of Tactual Labs, a startup dedicated to the commercialization of his research in high-performance, low-latency user input. For his research, he has been awarded an Ontario Early Researcher Award (2014) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Research Fellowship (2015), as well as best paper awards or honorable mentions at CHI 2015, CHI 2014, Graphics Interface 2013, CHI 2011, and UIST 2004. Two of his projects were selected as the People’s Choice Best Talks at CHI 2014.

Daniel is the co-author of Brave NUI World | Designing Natural User Interfaces for Touch and Gesture, the first practical book for the design of touch and gesture interfaces. He has also published dozens of other works as invited book chapters and papers in leading international publications and conferences, and is an author of over three dozen patents and pending patent applications. Daniel has been asked by leading companies to testify as an expert witness before courts in the United Kingdom and the United States. Further information, including publications and videos demonstrating some of his research, can be found at

Steffen Staab Steffen Staab, University of Koblenz-Landau

The Semantic Web: Interacting with the Unknown

Abstract: When developing user interfaces for interacting with data and content one typically assumes that one knows the type of data and one knows how to interact with such type of data. The core idea of the Semantic Web is that data is self-describing, which implies that its semantics is not designed and described at an initial point in time, but it rather emerges by its use. This flexibility is one of the greatest assets of the Semantic Web, but it also severely handicaps intelligent interaction with its data.

In this talk, we will sketch the principal problem as well as first steps to deal with the problem of interacting with the unknown.

Biography: Steffen is full professor for Databases and Information Systems at the Universität Koblenz-Landau, Germany, and full professor for Web and Computer Science at University of Southampton, UK. He studied in Erlangen (Germany), Philadelphia (USA) and Freiburg (Germany) computer science and computational linguistics. In his research career he has managed to avoid almost all good advice that he now gives to his team members. Such advise includes focusing on research (vs. company) or concentrating on only one or two research areas (vs. considering ontologies, semantic web, social web, data engineering, text mining, peer-to-peer, multimedia, HCI, services, software modelling and programming and some more). Though, actually, improving how we understand and use text and data is a good common denominator for a lot of Steffen's professional activities.

updated June 29, 2015