Publications Articles

Florian B, Hammerman J, Horn M, Spiegel A, Christiansen J, Phillips B, Diamond J, Shen MEC. (Best Paper Award) Fluid Grouping: Quantifying Group Engagement around Interactive Tabletop Exhibits in the Wild. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'15). 2015. pn564-blocka1-with-header.pdf
Villanosa K, Block F, Horn M, Shen C. in Games, Learning, and Society (GLS'14). ; 2014 :7 pages. Publisher's Version
Villanosa K, Block F, Hosford A, Horn M, Shen C. in Games, Learning, and Society Demo Track (GLS'14). ; 2014. Publisher's Version
Evans EM, Phillips B, Horn M, Block F, Diamond J, Shen C. Active prolonged engagement: When does it become active prolonged "learning"?, in Poster presented at the 2013 Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting. In J. Coley (Chair), Intuitive Concepts Versus Biological Science: The Case of Evolution. Seattle, Washington. In D. Uttal (Chair), Developmental Research Outside the Lab: Children’s STEM Learning In Museums. Seattle, Washington. ; 2013.
Phillips B, Evans EM, Horn M, Block F, Diamond J, Shen C. How is a human like a banana? Conceptions of humans as part of the natural world. Poster presented at the 2013 Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting. In J. Coley (Chair), Intuitive Concepts Versus Biological Science: The Case of Evolution. Seattle, Washington. 2013.
Davis, P., Horn MS, Schrementi L, Block F, Phillips B, Evans EM, Diamond J, Shen C. Going Deep: Supporting collaborative exploration of evolution in natural history museums. Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL'13), Madison, Wisconsin. 2013.Abstract
We provide an analysis of pairs of children interacting with a multi-touch tabletop exhibit designed to help museum visitors learn about evolution and the tree of life. The exhibit’s aim is to inspire visitors with a sense of wonder at life’s diversity while providing insight into key evolutionary concepts such as common descent. We find that children negotiate their interaction with the exhibit in a variety of ways including reactive, articulated, and contemplated exploration. These strategies in turn influence the ways in which children make meaning through their experiences. We consider how specific aspects of the exhibit design shape these collaborative exploration and meaning-making activities.
Horn M, Leong ZA, Block F, Diamond J, Evans ME, Phillips B, Shen C. BATs and APEs: Designing an interactive tabletop game for natural history museums. Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2012 :2059–2068.Abstract
In this paper we describe visitor interaction with an interactive tabletop exhibit on evolution that we designed for use in natural history museums. We video recorded 30 families using the exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. We also observed an additional 50 social groups interacting with the exhibit without video recording. The goal of this research is to explore ways to develop “successful” interactive tabletop exhibits for museums. To determine criteria for success in this context, we borrow the concept of Active Prolonged Engagement (APE) from the science museum literature. Research on APE sets a high standard for visitor engagement and learning, and it offers a number of useful concepts and measures for research on interactive surfaces in the wild. In this paper we adapt and expand on these measures and apply them to our tabletop exhibit. Our results show that visitor groups collaborated effectively and engaged in focused, on-topic discussion for prolonged periods of time. To understand these results, we analyze visitor conversation at the exhibit. Our analysis suggests that social practices of game play contributed substantially to visitor collaboration and engagement with the exhibit.
Block F, Horn MS, Phillips BC, Diamond J, Evans ME, Shen C. The DeepTree Exhibit: Visualizing the Tree of Life to Facilitate Informal Learning. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG). 2012 :10 pages.Abstract
In this paper, we present the DeepTree exhibit, a multi-user, multi-touch interactive visualization of the Tree of Life. We developed DeepTree to facilitate collaborative learning of evolutionary concepts. We will describe an iterative process in which a team of computer scientists, learning scientists, biologists, and museum curators worked together throughout design, development, and evaluation. We present the importance of designing the interactions and the visualization hand-in-hand in order to facilitate active learning. The outcome of this process is a fractal-based tree layout that reduces visual complexity while being able to capture all life on earth; a custom rendering and navigation engine that prioritizes visual appeal and smooth fly-through; and a multi-user interface that encourages collaborative exploration while offering guided discovery. We present an evaluation showing that the large dataset encouraged free exploration, triggers emotional responses, and facilitates visitor engagement and informal learning.
Chua KC, Qin Y, Block F, Phillips B, Diamond J, Evans MEE, Horn M, Shen C. FloTree Exhibit: A Multi-touch Interactive Simulation of Evolutionary Processes, in ACM ITS 2012 (Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces). Appeared in the demo session in the ACM Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces Conference ; 2012. Publisher's Version ft-its-cameraready-final.pdf
Block F, Wigdor D, Phillips BC, Horn MS, Shen C. FlowBlocks: A Multi-Touch UI for Crowd Interaction, in In proceedings of the 25th ACM symposium on User Interface Software and Technology. ; 2012 :11 pages.Abstract
Multi-touch technology lends itself to collaborative crowd interaction (CI). However, common tap-operated widgets are impractical for CI, since they are susceptible to accidental touches and interference from other users. We present a novel multi-touch interface called FlowBlocks in which every UI action is invoked through a small sequence of user actions: dragging parametric UI-Blocks, and dropping them over operational UI-Docks. The FlowBlocks approach is advantageous for CI because it a) makes accidental touches inconsequential; and b) introduces design parameters for mutual awareness, concurrent input, and conflict management. FlowBlocks was successfully used on the floor of a busy natural history museum. We present the complete design space and describe a year-long iterative design and evaluation process which employed the Rapid Iterative Test and Evaluation (RITE) method in a museum setting.
Schneider B, Strait M, Muller L, Elfenbein S, Shaer O, Shen C. Phylo-Genie: Engaging Students in Collaborative 'Tree- Thinking' through Tabletop Techniques. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'12). 2012. 5.0.phylo-genie.chi2012-cameraready-bs.pdf
Michael Haller, Forlines C, Koeffel C, Leitner J, Shen C. Tabletop Games: Platforms, Experimental Games and Design. 11th ed. Springer; 2010 pp. 271-297. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Abstract While the last decade has seen massive improvements in not only the rendering quality, but also the overall performance of console and desktop video games, these improvements have not necessarily led to a greater population of video game players. In addition to continuing these improvements, the video game industry is also constantly searching for new ways to convert non-players into dedicated gamers. Despite the growing popularity of computer-based video games, people still love to play traditional board games, such as Risk, Monopoly, and Trivial Pursuit. Both video and board games have their strengths and weaknesses, and an intriguing conclusion is to merge both worlds. We believe that a tabletop form-factor provides an ideal interface for digital board games. The design and implementation of tabletop games will be influenced by the hardware platforms, form factors, sensing technologies, as well as input techniques and devices that are available and chosen. This chapter is divided into three major sections. In the first section, we describe the most recent tabletop hardware technologies that have been used by tabletop researchers and practitioners. In the second section, we discuss a set of experimental tabletop games. The third section presents ten evaluation heuristics for tabletop game design.

Dunne A, Do-Lenh S, Laighin GÓ', Shen C, Bonato P. "Upper Extremity Rehabilitation of Children with Cerebral Palsy using Accelerometer Feedback on a Multitouch Display". 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. 2010.Abstract
Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive neurological disorder caused by disturbances to the developing brain. Physical and occupational therapy, if started at a young age, can help minimizing complications such as joint contractures, and can improve limb range of motion and coordination. While current forms of therapy for children with cerebral palsy are effective in minimizing symptoms, many children find them boring or repetitive. We have designed a system for use in upper-extremity rehabilitation sessions, making use of a multitouch display. The system allows children to be engaged in interactive gaming scenarios, while intensively performing desired exercises. It supports games which require completion of specific stretching or coordination exercises using one or both hands, as well as games which use physical, or “tangible” input mechanisms. To encourage correct posture during therapeutic exercises, we use a wireless kinematic sensor, worn on the patient's trunk, as a feedback channel for the games. The system went through several phases of design, incorporating input from observations of therapy and clinical sessions, as well as feedback from medical professionals. This paper describes the hardware platform, presents the design objectives derived from our iterative design phases and meetings with clinical personnel, discusses our current game designs and identifies areas of future work.
Jiang H, Viel A, Bajaj M, Lue RA, Shen C. CThru: Exploration in a Video-Centered Information Space for Educational Purposes. ACM CHI. 2009.Abstract
We present CThru, a self-guided video-based educational environment in a large multi-display setting. We employ a video-centered approach, creating and combining multimedia contents of different formats with a story-telling education video. With the support of new display form factors in the environment, viewing a sequential educational video thread is replaced by the immersive learning experience of hands-on exploration and manipulation in a multi-dimensional information space. We demonstrate CThru with an animation clip in cellular biology, supplementing visible objects in the video with rich domain-specific multimedia information and interactive 3D models. We describe CThru's design rationale and implementation. We also discuss a pilot study and what it revealed with respect to CThru's interface and the usage pattern of the tabletop and the associated large wall display.
Wigdor D, Jiang H, Forlines C, Borkin M, Shen C. The WeSpace: The Design, Development and Deployment of a Walk-Up and Share Multi-Surface Visual Collaboration System. ACM CHI. 2009.Abstract
We present WeSpace – a collaborative work space that integrates a large data wall with a multi-user multi-touch table. WeSpace has been developed for a population of scientists who frequently meet in small groups for data exploration and visualization. It provides a low overhead walk-up and share environment for users with their own personal applications and laptops. We present our year-long effort from initial ethnographic studies, to iterations of design, development and user testing, to the current experiences of these scientists carrying out their collaborative research in the WeSpace. We shed light on the utility, the value of the multi-touch table, the manifestation, usage patterns and the changes in their workflow that WeSpace has brought about.
Horn MS, Shen C. Frogs and Toads Memory: A Voronoi Twist on the Classic Children's Game. Sixth Annual International Symposium on Voronoi Diagrams in Science and Engineering. 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In this paper we present a novel twist on the classic children’s game, Memory. Here we combine the use of a weighted, centroidal Voronoi diagram and a multitouch tabletop surface to create a board game in which tiles (represented with Voronoi regions) dynamically morph as the game play evolves. This provides a challenge in which players must not only remember the locations of the various tiles, but also track their movements over time.
Horn MS, Tobiasz M, Shen C. Visualizing Biodiversity with Voronoi Treemaps. Sixth Annual International Symposium on Voronoi Diagrams in Science and Engineering. 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Introduced in 2005, the Voronoi treemap algorithm is an information visualization technique for displaying hierarchical data. Voronoi treemaps use weighted, centroidal Voronoi diagrams to create a nested tessellation of convex polygons. However, despite appealing qualities, few real world examples of Voronoi treemaps exist. In this paper, we present a multi-touch tabletop application called Involv that uses the Voronoi treemap algorithm to create an interactive visualization for the Encyclopedia of Life. Involv is the result of a yearlong iterative development process and includes over 1.2 million named species organized in a nine-level hierarchy. Working in the domain of life sciences, we have encountered the need to display supplemental hierarchical data to augment information in the treemap. Thus we propose an extension of the Voronoi treemap algorithm that employs force-directed graph drawing techniques both to guide the construction of the treemap and to overlay a supplemental hierarchy.
Jiang H, Wigdor D, Forlines C, Shen C. “System Design for the Extension of Personal Devices to a Table-Centered Multi-User, Multi-Surface Environment in the WeSpace”. Proceedings of IEEE Tabletops and Interactive Surfaces. 2008.Abstract
The WeSpace is a long-term project dedicated to the creation of environments supporting walk-up and share collaboration among small groups. The focus of our system design has been to provide 1) groups with mechanisms to easily share their own data and 2)necessary native visual applications suitable on large display environments. Our current prototype system includes both a large high-resolution data wall and an interactive table. These are utilized to provide a focal point for collaborative interaction with data and applications. In this paper, we describe in detail the designs behind the current prototype system. In particular, we present 1) the infrastructure which allows users to connect and visually share their laptop content on-thefly, and supports the extension of native visualization applications, and 2) the table-centric design employed in customized WeSpace applications to support crosssurface interactions. We will also describe elements of our user-centered iterative design process, in particular the results from a late-stages session which saw our astrophysicist participants successfully use the WeSpace to collaborate on their own real research problems.
Jiang H, Wigdor D, Forlines C, Borkin M, Kauggmann J, Shen C. "LivOlay: Interactive Ad-Hoc Registered Overlapping of Applications for Collaborative Visual Exploration". Proceedings of CHI 2008. 2008.Abstract
The interoperability of disparate data types and sources has been a long standing problem and a hindering factor for the efficacy and efficiency in visual exploration applications. In this paper, we present a solution, called LivOlay, which enables the rapid visual overlay of live data rendered in different applications. Our tool addresses datasets in which visual registration of the information is necessary in order to allow for thorough understanding and visual analysis. We also discuss initial evaluation and user feedback of LivOlay.
Brandl P, Forlines C, Wigdor D, Haller M, Shen C. Combining and Measuring the Benefits of Bimanual Pen and Direct-Touch Interaction of Interfaces. 2008.Abstract
Many research projects have demonstrated the benefits of bimanual interaction for a variety of tasks. When choosing bimanual input, system designers must select the input device that each hand will control. In this paper, we argue for the use of pen and touch two-handed input, and describe an experiment in which users were faster and committed fewer errors using pen and touch input in comparison to using either touch and touch or pen and pen input while performing a representative bimanual task. We present design principles and an application in which we applied our design rationale toward the creation of a learnable set of bimanual, pen and touch input commands.