EECS Joint Colloquium Distinguished Lecture Series

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Hewlett Packard Auditorium, 306 Soda Hall
4:00-5:00 p.m.

Professor Ravin Balakrishnan

Computer Science Department
University of Toronto


Interaction and Visualization Techniques for Next-Generation Displays




Our computing environments are rapidly diversifying beyond personal space technologies like desktops, laptops, and PDAs to include shared, more public, displays of much larger sizes and capabilities. These include true 3D displays, tabletop and wall size displays, and in fact any surface onto which an image can be projected. In this talk, I will argue that if we are to effectively utilize such a diverse display environment, we must develop user interfaces that leverage the unique properties of each display. In other words, the de facto "solution" of taking the standard GUI operated with a keyboard and pointing device and sticking it on these new form factors is not likely to work any better than attempts at using reins to drive early "horseless carriages" did in the 1800's. I will discuss some of the challenges of designing interfaces for these environments, and present some research currently being developed in my lab that are beginning to address them. These include using rich gestural input and context sensing to enable more fluid interactions, as well as new visualization techniques for presenting information in a manner that is appropriate for each display. Through these examples, I hope to illustrate the vast potential for innovation in this fertile area of human-computer interaction, and to challenge and inspire others to work on addressing the many challenges that remain.


Ravin Balakrishnan is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, where he co-directs the Dynamic Graphics Project (DGP) laboratory ( He is also a member of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) ( His research is in the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), with a current focus on innovative interaction techniques, interfaces for next generation displays, information visualization, sketching interfaces, ambient and pervasive computing, and empirical evaluation of user interfaces including associated metrics and predictive models of human performance. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, while concurrently working part-time as a researcher at Alias ( from 1997-2001. He currently holds the University of Toronto's Bell University Laboratories Assistant Professorship in HCI, and is the recipient of a Premier's Research Excellence Award. Further information, including publications and videos demonstrating some of his research, can be obtained from