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Prefab: What if anybody could modify any interface?

KEC 1001
Monday, November 7, 2011 - 4:00pm to 4:50pm
Speaker Information
James Fogarty
Associate Professor
Computer Science and Engineering
University of Washington

Widely-used interface toolkits currently stifle the progress and impact of user interface research. Advances are limited by both the rigidity of current interfaces and the fragmentation of applications among many different underlying toolkits. Many promising innovations therefore remain difficult or impossible to deploy.

Prefab examines pixels as a universal representation of the desktop. By reverse engineering the pixel-level appearance of interface elements, Prefab enables runtime interface modification without access to source and without cooperation from the underlying application. I will motivate this approach, present Prefab's pixel-based methods, and show several examples of runtime interface enhancements. This will include our implementation of the first general-purpose target-aware pointing enhancement, an idea proposed more than 15 years ago that has previously been considered impractical to actually deploy. I will conclude by discussing the potential of this work for catalyzing future interaction research and beginning to democratize our everyday interfaces.

Speaker Bio

James Fogarty is an Associate Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. He is also a core member of the DUB Group, the University of Washington's cross-campus initiative advancing Human-Computer Interaction and Design research and education. His broad research interests are in Human-Computer Interaction, User Interface Software and Technology, and Ubiquitous Computing. His focus is on new methods and tools for building interactive software, including the challenges of developing, deploying, and evaluating intelligent technologies. He is co-chairing the CHI 2012 subcommittee for "Expanding Interaction through Technology, Systems & Tools", and he has received Best Paper awards or nominations at CHI 2010, UbiComp 2009, CHI 2009, and CHI 2005. His research has been generously supported by the National Science Foundation, FXPAL, Google, Intel, and Microsoft.