Homework 1 - Discovering discoveries

Andrew J. Ko

Bill Buxton, a prominent HCI researcher, designer, and writer, has often said that seeing the future is easy: researchers, if they've been doing their job, have already defined it. Therefore, for a product designer, the hard part isn't necessarily conceiving of the future, but finding futures that have already been invented, and deciding whether now is the right time to bring them to market. In fact, Bill has claimed that there's a roughly 15 year window for most valuable research innovations to make it to market (if not longer). That means that the next big idea in technology was invented more than 15 years ago!

In this first homework, you're going to practice finding these futures that have already been invented. Your task is relatively simple:

  1. Choose an interaction paradigm or domain of interactive systems you're personally excited about. Maybe it's augmented reality, innovations in learning technology, gesture or voice-based interactions, or some other interest you have in user interface software and technology. Because homeworks in this class will build upon each other, choose something you're willing to think about all quarter.
  2. Conduct a literature search for recent literature on this topic. Here's a good strategy:

  3. Using the list of citations, the abstracts for each paper, and any videos included for the research paper, reflect on the overarching trends in the research contributions you found. Write a single paragraph describing 1) the scope of what you searched for and 2) what research has discovered. Imagine you are writing to a supervisor interested in product opportunities in your space. Your goal isn't to to convince them to invest (yet), but to just teach them about the opportunity space.

Submit your single paragraph and a bibliography of at least 12 citations to Canvas for credit.

Time box the above task to 3 hours. For example, you might give 20 minutes to choose a scope, 40 minutes to ask for search term advice from faculty or students, 90 minutes to find relevant papers, and 30 minutes to write your summary. To keep yourself to this time limit, don't read each paper in depth (yet), just rely on the titles and abstracts to give you a coarse sense of the focus of the work.


This homework is worth 5 points:

Note that I don't expect the summary to be "correct" at a low level: 3 hours isn't enough time to do this perfectly. Rather, you're looking for a high-level gist of research discoveries, which will help you decide whether to pursue this further, and if so, how.