ISS 2017

October 23, 2017
Mark Lochrie
Last week, PhD candidate Oliver Halstead travelled to Brighton to attend ACM’s 2017 conference for Interactive Surfaces and Spaces (ISS), where he was invited to present a new interdisciplinary project titled ‘Pulse’. Practitioners gather annually at ISS to present new tabletop, digital surface, interactive space and multi-surface technologies, that commonly have both strong academic and commercial applications. Within his work, Oliver seeks to synthesize elements of music, culture, art and technology – as is the case with ‘Pulse’ – which generates original music through the sonification of physical activity datasets.

The conference addressed a number of key questions concerning the rapid advancement of new technologies, particularly those that concern the maximisation of user experience and the development of technologies for the benefit of future generations. During day three, a panel consisting of Yvonne Rogers (UCL), Jürgen Steimle (Saarland University), Stacey Scott (University of Guelph) and Andy Wilson (Microsoft Research) discussed ways in which this vibrant community can continue to work together to ensure that new technologies emphasise the qualities presented by the physical world, rather than detract from them. An excellent closing keynote from Geraldine Fitzpatrick emphasised this further, as she presented a number of key questions which those working in the field of HCI will need to consider as they develop their research, and look to bridge gaps between academia, the economy and the public.

The works, papers, posters and demos presented at ISS span a broad range of subjects, from visual art to liquid circuitry. All of these works stem from compassionate motivations to improve or enhance aspects of life which are somehow hindered or held back, and being able to talk and engage with people who dedicate their lives to the exploration of new ways to feel, see, hear, play, move and communicate was a truly gratifying and enriching experience.

Oliver is now looking forward to applying the insights and experiences he gained from ISS as he continues to further develop ‘Pulse’, alongside co-authors Mark Lochrie and Jack Davenport, in the near future.

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