Basser Seminar Series

Proxemic Interactions: the New Ubicomp?

Speaker: Professor Saul Greenberg
University of Calgary

Time: Wednesday 17 April, 4:00-5:00pm

Location: The University of Sydney, School of IT Building, Lecture Theatre (Room 123), Level 1

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In the everyday world, much of what we do as social beings is dictated by how we interpret spatial relationships. This is called proxemics.

What is surprising is how little people’s expectations of spatial relationships are used in interaction design, i.e., in terms of mediating people’s interactions with surrounding digital devices such as digital surfaces, mobile phones, tablets, and computers. Our interest is in proxemic interaction, which imagines a world of devices that have fine-grained knowledge of nearby people and other devices - how they move into range, their precise distance, their identity and even their orientation - and how such knowledge can be exploited to design interaction techniques. Just as people expect increasing engagement and intimacy as they approach others, so should they naturally expect increasing connectivity and interaction possibilities as they bring themselves and their devices in close proximity to one another and to other things in their everyday ecology.

This presentation will be accessible to all computer scientists and even to the lay public. I will describe and illustrates (through videos) work in progress rather than mature work. Thus I particularly welcome discussion, feedback, and critique from the community.

Speaker's biography

Saul Greenberg is a Full Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary. While he is a computer scientist by training, the work by Saul and his talented students typify the cross-discipline aspects of Human Computer Interaction, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, and Ubiquitous Computing. He and his crew are well known for their development of:

- toolkits enabling rapid prototyping of groupware and ubiquitous appliances;
- innovative and seminal system designs based on observations of social phenomenon;
- articulation of design-oriented social science theories, and
- refinement of evaluation methods.

Saul holds the AITF/NSERC/Smart Technologies Industrial Chair in Interactive Technologies. He is an ACM Fellow, has received the CHCCS Achievement award, was elected to the ACM CHI Academy in April 2005 for his overall contributions to the field of Human Computer Interaction, and held a University Professorship recognizing research excellence.

Saul is a prolific author who has authored and edited several books and published many refereed articles, as listed at He is also known for his strong commitment in making his tools, systems, and educational material readily available to other researchers and educators.