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Monday, July 11, 2005

Intelligent UIs

During the second tutorial session yesterday, I attended the one on Intelligent User Interfaces by Mark Maybury. Let me just say, that was a tutorial done right. Of the four tutorials I attended, this was the best. He gave an excellent overview of the field, provided demonstrations of key systems (lots of videos here, folks), and was engaging the entire time. The audience seemed quite weary after two straight days of tutorials, so he had a bit of a challenging time keeping everyone’s attention, but he did well given the situation.

I was a bit surprised that the technology of IUIs hasn’t progressed further. I was expecting many more systems like the SmartKom agent, although I am slightly skeptical of how it works in practice. Many of the IUIs are tailored to the specific application, and are “engineered” tools rather than implementations with a solid theoretical background. This is one area which could use an infusion of AI researchers, as the creation of a successful IUI will draw from everything from knowledge representation, to natural language processing, to machine learning. As a side note, there’s an upcoming conference on intelligent interactive entertainment (called “Intertain”, although I can't find the URL) that looks quite interesting and is related to IUIs.

Let me just say that 8 hours straight of tutorials a day is too much. From talking with many others, I know that I’m not alone in this opinion. Every tutorial I attended, save the last, was stretching the material to fill the time-frame. One strong suggestion is to have several shorter tutorial sessions (2 hrs?), and then have some tutorials span multiple sessions (those sessions should be as independent as possible). With shorter tutorial sessions, I think people would be able to be exposed to a wider variety of areas and would get more out of each tutorial. Anyone second my opinion or disagree?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of the IUIs are tailored to the specific application, and are “engineered” tools rather than implementations with a solid theoretical background. This is one area which could use an infusion of AI researchers, as the creation of a successful IUI will draw from everything from knowledge representation, to natural language processing, to machine learning.

I'm glad that the tutorial was worthwhile; I think Mark does a nice job in giving an overview of the field. While it's true that lots of IUIs are engineered systems, there are also systems with strong theoretical roots: for example, look at Chuck Rich and Candy Sidner's work on COLLAGEN, or Eric Horvitz's work on applying decision theory to mixed initiative interaction. Part of the difficulty in building IUIs, of course, is that there's so much variation in human behavior, and the HCI side of things is still pretty messy from a theoretical perspective.

IUI is still a relatively new field and very open to new ideas. If you're interested, don't hesitate to buttonhole some of the IUI folks during AAAI. Candy, Chuck, and Mark are here, as are Jude Shavlik, David Leake, John Riedl, and probably other people I haven't bumped into yet. Or talk to me--I was the conference chair for IUI last January.

-- Rob St. Amant

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Mentifex said...

Mind.Forth (AI has been solved) has a Human-Computer Interface.

9:34 PM  
Blogger CycloNurb said...

Yes, I do agree that there is a rich blend of different areas of research in designing and building IUIs.

I really like how this slide from his tutorial
(http://www.mitre.org/tech/itc/maybury/iui99/sld013.htm)
gives a big picture of everything that's involved in building IUIs.

10:40 PM  
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