A Place for Students to Shine at the ACM UIST Conference 2016 in Tokyo

The UIST student innovation contest (aka the “SIC”) is one of those rare moments in a student’s life: a chance to present work at the heart of one of the top venues in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). In fact, UIST (i.e., ACM’s conference for User Interface Software and Technology) is often acclaimed as the top conference for those driven by hardware / software novelty, mad inventors of the HCI kind, and the likes.

So if you are a student interested in HCI and never had a chance to visit one of the main conferences, here’s your chance; because the UIST SIC is not only a place to meet some of your favorite researchers while they try out your demo, it is also a remarkable conference to learn about the bleeding edge of the field, a financially supported opportunity for those teams that have less support by applying the UIST SIC travel grants,` a chance to get some fabulous prizes — there’s 3K USD for the winning teams but also participation awards — last but not least, it is your chance to get in touch with some novel hardware: electrical muscle stimulation:

Did I say Prizes..? Oh, Welcome to Tokyo!

Welcome to the eighth annual UIST Student Innovation Contest (SIC) taking place in Tokyo! Contestants will demo their creations during the demo reception at the conference; and the winners will be announced at the UIST banquet. A jury of UIST celebrities will select two winners in the Most Creative Interface and Best Implementation categories. On top of that, conference attendees will get a chance to vote for their favorite teams in the People’s Choice category.

UIST 2016 Student Innovation Contest is on… Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)!

For 2016, the UIST Student Innovation Contest takes on a very timely subject which is the next frontier in virtual and augmented reality: feeling the virtual (haptics)! You will help create a world in which virtual interfaces are no longer just wireframes without mass… you can use electrical muscle stimulation to create physical forces from the virtual world and… you can even make it mobile/wearable so that these interfaces are with us everywhere!

How to register and until when is it opened? 

  • student contest registration deadline for all teams : August 15th (we are doing “rolling acceptance” from 1st of August, so first come will be first served by then).
  • organizers evaluate submissions and select accepted teams : August 1-2
  • notification of team selection sent out : August 1 (also rolling acceptance until 15th)
  • hardware kits shipped to accepted teams: August 4-16th
  • contest development period with muscle-stimulation hardware : August 4 – October 17
    teams demo at contest reception during UIST conference (Tokyo) : October 17

Register here!

What do I get to work with?

Each team will receive a kit of parts including an arduino nano, the medically-safe muscle stimulator, electrodes and our usb/bluetooth control board. Using these parts, teams will be able to build virtual experiences, devices, interfaces that demonstrate how to make the virtual physical. We will also be providing you with simple examples on how to get started using Arduino, Unity3D and Processing. All teams are encouraged to open source their efforts, and even build on each other’s work. To get you started easily, we will provide you, besides all the hardware, video tutorials and coaching sessions so you know how to setup everything and debug any questions you might have!

How easy is thus hardware to use?

It is as simple as 10 minutes to get fully started (video)… and how to program? Just choose one of your favorite APIs/Programming languages below, since the board is merely a USB/Bluetooth device it is very simple to interface with and we provide ready to use examples for all these languages:

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 11.21.23 PM

Here’s how it looks like in Python:

This hardware spins off from my research in interactive EMS-based systems and also in Max Pfeiffer’s work on EMS. After we gave workshops together at ACM CHI and IEEE World Haptics we decided to share Max’s designs with the world and the board is now open-source as EMS Toolkit (original version) or openEMSstim for the UIST SIC version which has been slightly modified for the contest.

P.s; you can watch more videos and download source code here.

What can I build using EMS?

The simplest demo you can build is one that renders a virtual event into a physical event, for instance a mobile phone game in which you actually steer an airplane against the wind..but hey… spoiler alert: we’ve done that one:

Because using EMS makes interfaces more physical, when the wind comes one of the player’s wrists contracts (using the muscle stimulation) and turns the airplane into an undesired direction, thus the player must turn against the force-feedback and steer the airplane into safety! What other futuristic mobile apps can you make that use EMS? A more compelling demo that you can build takes place in Virtual Reality, what could you improve in the experience of virtual reality if the user could feel forces? Check this video example for inspiration:

This is the potential of EMS in action to support Virtual Reality. Here, sport simulators such as boxing and baseball that actually deliver a force. Here we combined the EMS bracelet with a solenoid… what other novel techniques and devices can you combine EMS with?

What about teaching a new skill using electrical muscle stimulation? Maybe playing a new instrument: get inspired with the amazing Possessed Hand video:

Think outside the box and create novel interfaces that take advantage of these physical sensations for augmented or virtual reality or maybe you don’t even need screens! The more exciting your demo gets the higher are the chances for the prize committee to be impressed.

Oh yeah, don’t forget to register your student team until 15th of August!

Win fabulous prizes! Sign up at http://tinyurl.com/uistsic2016 by August 15th of 2016.

p.s.: Read all rules of the contest here.


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