Award allows researcher to focus on the sensory

Jul 10, 2003, vol. 27, no. 6
By Carol Thorbes

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A $200,000 grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is enabling SFU researcher Ted Kirkpatrick to begin in earnest experiments that promise to make human-computer interaction more sensory.

Kirkpatrick will use the grant to purchase equipment for developing a haptic interface that enhances users' interaction with their computers through their sense of touch while they are working.

Most current research on haptic interfaces involves simulating some procedure, such as surgery, which normally is not done in a computing environment.

Such interfaces help users retain the feel of being in the procedure's conventional environment, such as a surgery room.

Kirkpatrick is pioneering the creation of haptic interfaces that improve the fluency and expressiveness of users' every day interactions with computers. “Haptic interfaces offer the possibility of interacting with the computer expressively rather than purely functionally.

Possible benefits from this include increased productivity, less repetitive strain injuries, and more pleasure,” notes Kirkpatrick. “People enjoy exercising practiced skills for which they can see measurable improvement.”

Kirkpatrick's CFI grant from the new opportunities federal fund for newly recruited faculty members will enable him to purchase video recording and editing equipment for tracking and animating computer users' movement in space.

Kirkpatrick conducts his research at SFU's school of computing science's graphics, usability and visualization lab, which he joined two years ago.

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