CAREER: Ubilytics: Harnessing Existing Device Ecosystems for Anywhere Sensemaking

Dr. Elmqvist currently serves as Director of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, which provides the ideal environment to carry out the research for his CAREER grant. This project seeks to learn how we can use the existing ecosystem of networked devices in our surroundings to make sense of and exploit massive, heterogeneous, and multi-scale data anywhere and at any time. In doing so, the project proposes a comprehensive new approach called ubiquitous analytics (ubilytics) for harnessing ever-present digital devices into unified environments for anywhere analysis and sensemaking of data. Ubilytics draws on human-computer interaction, visual analytics, and ubiquitous computing as well as a synthesis of distributed, extended, and embodied cognition. While traditional research studies cognitive aids in isolation, ubilytics takes a system-level view of cognition that engages different representational media – such as humans, physical artifacts, mobile devices, and large displays – as well as interactions that are used to bring these media in coordination with each other – such as verbal and gestural cues, touching and sketching, partitioning and arranging, and note-taking and annotation. Ubilytic environments benefit sensemaking by distributing cognitive aids in space and time; by off-loading memory, deduction, and reasoning; by harnessing our innate perceptual, cognitive, motor, spatial, and social skills; and by multiplying interaction and display surfaces. Dr. Elmqvist’s research will focus on three example domains: (1) scientific discovery, (2) classroom learning, and (3) police investigation. It will also advance discovery and understanding by integrating the research in an undergraduate programming course used as a testbed for learning in ubilytics environments. Another goal of this project is to broaden participation of underrepresented groups by engaging in a ‘women in engineering’ program as well as by mentoring minority undergraduate students during summer research internships.

August 2014 - January 2020

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