Grand Challenges in Future Interaction

User interface design is a Grand Challenge of computer science. User interface design is an art, not yet a discipline. Although lots of work has been done, there is no systematic integration of the contributing ideas, whether from psychology, computer science or other disciplines. There is no way of predicting whether a user interface design will be any good: will it be intuitive, efficient, robust, helpful, rich or enjoyable, will it diagnose errors and facilitate recovery from errors? In FIT Lab, we are pursuing this Grand Challenge.

The FIT Lab mission is to explore and apply advanced computer science to make interaction technologies dependable, enjoyable and effective. Interaction technologies include mobile devices, the web, web 2.0, implants, home TVs, microwave cookers, ticket machines, navigational aids, etc.

User interface design is one of three Grand Challenges identified by Frederick P. Brooks in his classic paper: "Three great challenges for half-century-old computer science," Journal of the ACM, 50(1):pp25-26, 2003. Brooks says the challenge is to integrate the disparate bodies of knowledge that contribute to user interface design into a coherent discipline of design.

So how can UI design help real people?

At the FITLab, we focus on medical devices, medical information, e-health, sustainable living, mobile devices and mobile web, information seeking, exploration, and sensemaking. This combination of research agendas and technological focus are important, especially with mobile devices and social media being key to supporting the developing world. Lets put it this way: how can our research help achieve the UN's 10 key worldwide challenges.