An update on CHI 2022

Harley Eades
8 min readMay 4, 2022

This week I’m attending CHI 2022 (SIGCHI) the leading conference in HCI on Human Factors in Computing Systems. I decided to write sprint posts on each day just giving some pointers to things I liked about the conference this year.

In fact, this is my first ever CHI and conference in HCI. Even though I’ve been attending conferences regularly for the last 13 years (wow, I’m old), I think I have a unique perspective being someone who is new to HCI, but not academic research.

Registration

Perhaps the largest conference I’ve ever attended was the Federated Logic Conference (FLOC). This is a large event that happens every four years. All of the major logic conferences and workshops happen in the same place at the same time. A few thousand logicians show up to the event. However, this is slightly different than CHI which is more of a singular event, but with the publications split up. CHI happens in one building for example, but is just as massive!

My CHI 2022 Badge.

Its size really hit me when I went to the registration desk to pick up my badge. There is a queue setup like the amusement park to form more efficient lines. I was immediately like, okay, more of crowd coming than I’m used to. It also appears that the community actually does care about people; I mean, I hope so, because it’s one of the most important factors in HCI.

They offered these cool stickers that signify to others that you are either down with being touched by giving handshakes and high-fives or would rather social distance. You can see mine in the lower-right corner in the picture of my badge above.

Another cool part about the badges are the lanterns. Check out this tweet:

You can choose to use these beads as your lantern, and they are made by this company ARC as Cliff states above! This is super cool! Check them out here.

The Keynote

As I walked into the New Orleans Theatre of the convention center on Convention Center Blvd, you first get a glimpse of these interesting glowing art pieces.

A tall (6.5 feet) green-glowing rectangle with a weaving pattern.

So I immediately thought, welcome to my Ted talk!

The keynote “The Intersectional Gaming Project: Reimagining Futures Through Gaming” was fantastic! It was by Kishonna Gray who is a researcher out of University of Kentucky looking at how gaming and technology can positively impact Black communities whom of which are typically ignored in such spaces and when designing such products. I cannot do her talk justice here, and so I highly recommend that you watch it.

The thing that floored me the most were the countless examples of how games just get it wrong when considering basically anything that is not essentially white. She gave examples of things that I knew, but also some that were surprising and which highlighted the privileges I have as a white man; e.g., being able to be in a group of other white men and moving around from space to space without fear of being turned away. There is still a lot of changes that need to be made in our world to dismantle the hurtful systems preventing everyone from having the same privileges that I have.

Talks

Now let’s do a quick recap on the talks I really enjoyed!

Understanding People’s Experience for Physical Activity Planning and Exploring the Impact of Historical Records on Plan Creation and Execution

Authors: Kefan Xu, Xinghui Yan, and Mark W Newman

Paper: PDF

So one area of research I’m super interested in is the personal tracking of physical activity; e.g., because I’m addicted to CrossFit. This talk fits into that area, and I was super excited to see it here this year, because being new to HCI, I didn’t know if that area would be of interest anymore. It looks like it is!

This talk introduced a study with the following hypothesis:

Does a persons activity level increase and remain consistent over time if they do better planning using historical data for when, where, and how they do their physical activity?

To test this hypothesis they designed and implemented two apps for tacking physical activity: one with tracking of historical data and one without.

The app with historical data allowed the participants to track things like weather, social events, and timing of their activity, and a number of other properties. Then all of their data can be reflected upon later when conducting their activity planning to shift their schedule if their data reveals barriers. For example, if they notice that they just do not workout on Tuesday’s, because work gets in the way, their data should reveal this, and they can make Tuesday’s a rest day in the future.

Their study was based on (remote) interviews with participants (a sample from the university student population) who planned and tracked their physical activity over a 28 day period.

The study did indeed validate their hypothesis, and that’s interesting, but not super surprising. I’m an avid fitness nerd, and I can tell you first hand, if you want to be consistent at working out, then planning and replanning is your only possibility! So I wasn’t surprised to see their results, but it is interesting in that a study did validate it, and I really thought their app design ideas were great!

The only criticism of their study is the participant sample. University students are known to be predominantly young, white, and female. In fact, their study had only 1 male student, but 16 female students. They also restricted who could participate based on the type of phone they owned. They had to have an iPhone with an operating system of iOS 10 or above. This cuts out participants with varying backgrounds; e.g., participants from low-income households, because there have been studies that show iPhone users are largely more financially secure. In addition, there were no participants with disabilities.

The phone issue could have been easily resolved if they would have developed their app in something like React Native which allows apps to be developed for both iPhone’s and Android’s. The app detailed in the paper is very basic, and so this wouldn’t have been substantially difficult to do. I think this would have also helped get more participants to engage in the study.

The TAC Toolkit: Supporting Design for User Acceptance of Health Technologies from a Macro-Temporal Perspective

Authors: Camille Nadal, Shane McCully, Kevin Doherty, Corina Sas, Gavin Doherty

Paper: PDF

This is one of the few best paper awards this year. Only 1% of papers get this honor.

I loved this talk! I thought it was super cool, and interesting, and they utilize a super cool, simple, but effective artifact.

The main research question has to do with abandonment of mobile-health applications. This is has been a fruitful area of research with lots of theoretical models showing when and why users might abandon apps. For example, a user might become frustrated with the app being too difficult to use, or understand.

However, the researchers noticed a problem with the research in this area. Real designers and developers of this technology may not have the expertise or time to understand these very theoretical results. So….

How can they develop a toolkit that practitioners can use to understand the problems associated with abandonment, and how can they quickly gain insight to consider the various solutions to these problems?

And what was the authors solution? A deck of fucking flashcards!!!! I LOVE IT! Check these out:

The fronts of a 3-by-3 grid of flashcards is pictured. Each card contains a design topic centered around technology acceptance to consider and an icon. Please see the next paragraph for the topics on each card.
The front of the flashcards contain a technology acceptance topic the designers should consider.
The backs of the 3-by-3 grid of flashcards is pictured. Each card contains a question the designers should consider when designing their apps. Please see the next paragraph for the list of questions.
The back of the flashcards are questions the designers should be asking when designing their apps.

Since Medium caps the characters and formatting of ALT text, here is a description of each card pictured in the two images above:

Technology Anxiety (card 1):

  • Do users fear or apprehend using the technology?
  • And, how might this fear be understood, communicated, and addressed?
  • What have users’ past experiences been like? What are the sources of their anxiety, if experienced?
  • What demands does use of the technology place on users? What rhythm does the technology bring to their lives?

Perceived Social Support (card 2):

  • How supportive / competitive are users’ communities?
  • Where do users turn for support?
  • Does the technology itself foster solidarity, competition, or a mix of both?
  • Bonus: Does use of technology promote social belonging or individuality? And in which respects?

Demographics (card 3):

  • How might users’ characteristics influence how they manage their health?
  • Which demographic groups might be reached by the technology?
  • Have education, gender, age, or other characteristics played a role in users’ experiences of care?
  • Do users hold cultural or personal beliefs which shape their own perceptions of health? How might we design inclusively for a broader range of demographics?

Technology Playfulness (card 4):

  • Is the technology fun?
  • How seriously do users view their health? How might we engage with opportunities for levity?
  • How might we act to increase the freedom granted to users?
  • Which kinds of stories might the technology embody and tell?
  • Bonus: Which features have users found most engaging in other systems? What have they shared with friends?

Technology Enjoyment (card 5):

  • Do users enjoy time spent with the technology?
  • Where do users find joy and meaning in their pursuit and maintenance of health?
  • How might we grant opportunities for social engagement and self-determination by design?
  • How might experiences of joy, excitement, and enchantment be made possible? How might we design to promote a feeling of reward?

Privacy Protection (card 6):

  • Do users fear for their privacy using the technology?
  • How important is privacy to users? In which respects?
  • Are the steps taken to protect users’ privacy clearly and credibly communicated?
  • To what extent are users granted choice and control over their data and use of the technology? Can this be expanded?

Health Status (card 7):

  • Do users live with physical or mental health issues?
  • Which aspects of users’ health most impacted their lives?
  • Do multiple health issues combine to impact users’ health status?
  • Does users’ experience with these issues impact how they manage them?
  • Bonus: which other experiences impact users’ health? Joy, mindfulness, self-esteem?

Health Beliefs & Concerns (card 8):

  • How do users perceive their health concerns and their impact on their lives?
  • What are users’ fears? Are these concerns acute or chronic?
  • How do users’ beliefs around health, wellbeing, and care impact how they manage their health issues?
  • From where do users obtain knowledge about their health and wellbeing? Are these sources trustworthy?

Healthcare Professional Relationships (card 9):

  • What are users’ relationships with their doctors like?
  • How satisfied are users with the care they receive? How do they come away feeling? How would they like to?
  • What one change would users like to see in their doctors’ practice?
  • What does a kind and caring relationship look like? How can technology facilitate this?

When they conducted workshops with practitioners they found that the cards helped them with better communication about the questions they should be asking. They also helped focus the conversation on meaningful topics.

I love the simplicity of the deck of cards. I can see how it would be fun to grab them and throw down a card when you want to consider a topic. It’s a very creative solution, giving an analog tool to designers of digital products. It’s also something tangible and easy to show others. Freaking cool!

Check out the projects website for more and a means of getting yourself a deck of card: ehealthacceptancedesign.com

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Harley Eades

Interested in HCI, UX Design, Fitness+HCI, PL+HCI. Portfolio: hde.design