SFU's New Visual & Interactive Computing Institute Aims to Transform Tech Landscapes

May 21, 2024

The Visual & INteractive Computing Institute (VINCI) was established at SFU in 2023, led by Professors Parmit Chilana and Yasutaka Furukawa from the School of Computing Science (CS). Located in the heart of one of the country’s burgeoning tech hubs, VINCI combines the expertise of various SFU departments, including CS and the School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT), to spearhead innovations in visual computing (VC), artificial intelligence (AI), and human-computer interaction (HCI).

The institute’s primary focus is on leveraging computing technologies to enhance how humans interact with and perceive visual information—one of the most integral aspects of human experience. By fostering a collaborative environment, VINCI is dedicated to producing knowledge that not only advances technology but also ensures it is developed responsibly and inclusively, benefiting individuals of all abilities, genders, races, ages, and backgrounds.

Through its work, VINCI is positioned to significantly boost SFU's presence in the global research community. It aims to attract substantial group-based funding and foster partnerships with leading visual effects companies, interaction design firms, and start-ups both locally in British Columbia and across Canada. Moreover, the institute is committed to pioneering transformative technologies across various sectors, including education, healthcare, visual arts, engineering, commerce, and disaster recovery.

VINCI exemplifies SFU’s commitment to innovation and social responsibility, heralding a new era of tech development that promises to impact society positively while addressing the potential risks associated with digital advancements. As VINCI continues to grow and evolve, it is set to become a key player in shaping the future of interactive computing, both in Canada and worldwide.

Leadership Team and Members

VINCI distinguishes itself with a wide-ranging coalition that includes faculties of Applied Sciences, Communication, Arts and Social Sciences, Business, Education, Environment, and Science, reflecting its holistic approach to technology development. VINCI’s current leadership team consists of Parmit Chilana (CS) and Manolis Savva (CS) as Co-directors and Sheelagh Carpendale (CS), Carman Neustaedter (SIAT), and Maite Taboada (Linguistics) as Steering Committee Members.

VINCI consists of 49 members from 14 different departments at SFU. Members have received accolades and recognition for the impact of their work across many research areas.  The VINCI membership includes three Canada Research Chairs, two CIFAR AI chairs, IEEE fellows, Royal Society of Canada fellows, and researchers with numerous awards for best paper and test of time recognitions.

VINCI-led Events

VINCI held its inaugural kickoff event on April 12, 2023, at SFU's Burnaby campus which was opened by the Dean of SFU Applied Sciences, Eugene Fiume. The event lasted over three hours and included 27 members from diverse schools and faculties such as Political Science, Statistics, Linguistics, Communication, SIAT, and Computing Sciences. The agenda featured a one-minute lightning researcher self-introductions and panel discussions on how the VINCI Institute fosters inter-school/faculty research, sparking local collaborations and brainstorming sessions.

VINCI also co-sponsors and supports a variety of internal and external speakers, particularly through the Visual Computing & Robotics (VCR) seminar series led by Angel Chang and HCI seminar series led by Xing-Dong Yang. These events are promoted via the publicly accessible vinci-announce mailing list.

On February 9, 2024, VINCI organized a focused event on the "Impacts of Large Language Models & AI on Society". This mini-workshop included short invited talks and informal discussions among VINCI faculty members to share perspectives and catalyze further collaboration. Themes such as interpretability, human-AI interaction, education, and future research challenges were explored. The workshop facilitated the creation of regular reading groups and collaborative initiatives, including establishing a team for pursuing an NSERC CREATE grant application and setting the stage for future public engagement events.

If you would like to get involved in any VINCI in any form, please reach out to the directors at vinci-directors@sfu.ca. To be informed of future events, you can sign up for the vinci-announce mailing through SFU’s maillist portal.