The Thrills of ReCHInnecting: Hamburg Edition 

posted on: June 06, 2023

In late April, I had the opportunity to attend the ACM CHI conference in Hamburg, marking my second attendance after the one in Montreal back in 2018. It felt a bit like a double homecoming. Firstly, because it was my second time attending, and secondly, because I did my master's studies at the University of Hamburg, and the city remained as beautiful as I remember it, a true pearl on the banks of the river Elbe.

As always, the conference provided a wonderful platform to reconnect with familiar faces and expand my professional network. On my first day, I participated in the workshop The Future of Computational Approaches for Understanding and Adapting User Interfaces. The workshop featured a great keynote on the future of mixed reality, which prompted me to reflect on the striking differences between designing for 2D and 3D interactions. 

Of course, the demo session once again stole the show. Witnessing the latest developments in mid-air haptics and testing out the demo on data physicalization using acoustic levitation was a highlight.

Cheers to an amazing event and a job well done to Germany as a first-time host! 

The 9th Heidelberg Laureate Forum was a Once-in-a-lifetime Experience! 

posted on: October 4, 2022

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum is an annual event that provides 200 carefully selected young researchers in mathematics and computer science the unique opportunity to spend a week interacting with the laureates of the disciplines: recipients of the Abel Prize, ACM A.M. Turing Award, ACM Prize in Computing, Fields Medal, IMU Abacus Medal and Nevanlinna Prize.  

I was truly humbled by the invitation to attend this year's forum. It was such an exciting, vibrant week, full of inspiring talks, thought-provoking discussions, engaging social gatherings and excursions. Every single program point felt like yet another highlight. I am especially thankful to the laureates who made the time in their busy schedules to attend this event, engage with us, the young researchers, and share their valuable knowledge, expertise, and advice. 

It was an almost surreal experience to hear from Ivan Sutherland (1988 Turing Award recipient) himself about the surprising discoveries and observations he made, while testing the first ever head-mounted display in history. Next, on Tuesday, followed the impressive lecture by the 2021 Abel Prize winner Avi Wigderson on using Turing's imitation game as an analogy to provide a new definition to classical notions, such as privacy, secret, fairness etc. On Wednesday, we organized an informal HCI meet-up with the 2018 ACM Prize in Computing winner Shwetak Patel and the current ACM CEO Vicki Hanson during a sunny boat tour on the Neckar river. Apart from the Bavarian Evening, the Thursday highlight was the small group interaction with the 2016 ACM Prize in Computing winner Alexei Efros on slow science, time management, and developing the taste for a good research topic. Finally, on Friday we had a very impactful interaction with Prof. Lenore Blum during an informal women meet-up, where she very gracefully shared with us the early-career challenges she faced as a woman in mathematics.  

I would also like to honor the many conversations with inspiring peer researchers from all over the globe. I had the luck to be among the 30 pre-selected young researchers who were given the opportunity to present their work in a condensed poster format. The poster session attendees had great questions and collab ideas. In general, the week in Heidelberg was a fantastic opportunity to finetune our science communication skills by explaining our research to a diverse set of people, coming from different backgrounds, to find unusual intersections with other people's disciplines, talk openly about struggles and challenges in academia, and to have thoughtful and honest conversations about how our scientific efforts contribute to the societies of future. 

First-time Dagstuhl Attendee

Promptly after the Heidelberg Laureate Forum ended, I made my way further west to attend the  Dagstuhl Seminar: Transparent Quantitative Research as a User Interface Problem. Upon arrival, I was mesmerized by the beauty and serenity of the venue. It hosted a week of fruitful discussions with a remarkable group of researchers, aiming to facilitate more transparency in HCI research. I am excited to share our outputs soon! Update: Find our Cheatsheet for a Transparent CHI Paper  on OSF and GitHub.

Bayreuth hosts MTNS 2022 

posted on: September 15, 2022

Yesterday was day 3 of the 25th International Symposium on Mathematical Theory of Network and Systems, a premier venue for research contributions in mathematical systems theory, networks and control, taking place in Bayreuth this year. In the morning, I had the great opportunity to take part in the invited session Control in and Around Human-Computer Interaction and present my work on optimal control of acoustic levitation interfaces. This was the first time presenting this exciting, but also challenging application use case for control methods to a mathematics audience. I received some great impulses for potential directions to explore in future work. 

The afternoon was reserved for sightseeing and excursions around the city. Even though I've been a 'Bayreuthian' for a couple of years now, the tour was still quite informative, with the highlight of visiting the interior of the Festspielhaus (Bayreuth Festival Theater), known for its great acoustics and the unusual orchestra pit.

Impressions of SIGGRAPH 2022

posted on: August 29, 2022

It's been a bit over two weeks since I returned back from the SIGGRAPH. With over 11 000 attendees, this was the biggest conference I attended so far. For such a large event, I was amazed by the impeccable organization. I am very grateful for the opportunity to see many inspiring talks, experience great demos, and have face-to-face conversations with researchers, artists, and creators. My personal favorite was seeing all the latest developments and advancements in holographic displays. 

Also, I got to present our work on computing Optimal Trajectories for Acoustic Levitation Displays in the technical papers track, which this year took place in a slightly different format than previously. After presenting a summarized version of the video talk, the audience members could walk up to the authors of the papers in the particular session and have a roundtable discussion. I really appreciated the close interaction with the audience. I received great feedback and some excellent questions. The attendees were curios about how acoustic levitation technology works and what the future for (and with) acoustic levitation displays might look like.

The full pre-recorded video talk is available here.

Vancouver was a great host city. With the calm Stanley Park and the surrounding beaches, it provided the perfect setting for short academic retreats.  

The conference venue
Turing Award Lecture
In-person presentation of the OptiTrap technical paper
English Bay Seawall in Vancouver
Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver
A demonstration of a collaborative drawing of a user and a robot
OptiTrap poster put up for the roundtable discussion
the Gastown Steam Clock in Vancouver

OptiTrap goes to SIGGRAPH

posted on: March 9, 2022

Recently, I've been working on an algorithm that would compute optimal placements of acoustic traps such that a levitated particle would follow a pre-defined path as close as possible, based on a mathematical model of the trap-particle dynamics. 

Now I am happy to announce that the paper describing this algorithm, that I named OptiTrap (i.e., Optimal Trapping of Levitated Particles), has been accepted to the Transactions on Graphics journal and it can already be found here

OptiTrap allows the rendering of larger and more complex visual content on acoustic levitation displays than previously demonstrated, such as the almost 9 cm wide holographic fish shown bellow. 

An image of a blue fish, created by an illuminated, rapidly-moving, levitated particle.
Volumetric graphics generated by rapidly moving a levitated particle in an acoustophoretic display. 

In addition, I will have the opportunity to present this work at this year's SIGGRAPH conference. This would be my first time attending the conference and I am looking forward to all the inspiring new research in computer graphics and interaction.