News and Events

  • April 2017:      Jessica Dawson is the recipient of a 2016-2017 UBC Faculty of Science Killam Teaching Prize, UBC’s most prestigious teaching award. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to improving the teaching and learning environment in our undergraduate programs, and is awarded to a small handful of faculty members in Science each year. In addition to her achievements and enthusiasm for teaching in her own courses, Jessica has made significant contributions through her collaborations with fellow faculty members on several course improvement efforts across the department in her role as a Science Teaching and Learning Fellow under the Carl Wieman initiative.
  • January 2017:       Skin simulation software developed in Prof. Dinesh K. Pai's group was used to make the fantastic beasts in the blockbuster film based on J. K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” The skin software, called Vital Skin, uses a patent-pending simulation algorithm published in SIGGRAPH 2013 and developed by the UBC spinoff company Vital Mechanics. VFX studio Image Engine Design used Vital Skin FX to create the realistic skin movement of magical creatures such as Graphorns.
  • November 2016:       Kellogg Booth, former post-doc Dr. Narges Mahyar, former Computer Science students Cathy Meng and Ernest Xiang, and colleagues in SLAIS and SALA, won an honourable mention for their paper "UD Co-Spaces: A Table-Centred Multi-Display Environment for Public Engagement in Urban Design Charrettes” at this year's ACM Interactive Surfaces and Spaces (ISS 2016) conference. The paper describes the design and evaluation of a system to support the charrette process for urban design. The system is a multi-touch tabletop application for neighbourhood planning that is integrated with large wall displays and hand-held personal displays. A series of studies in real-world planning workshops and in laboratory settings examined the degree to which multi-display environments can engage a broad range of stakeholders in decision making and foster collaboration and co-creation. The research was conducted under funding from an NSERC strategic project grant “IDEAS2.0: Integrative Data-Enabled Approaches to Sustainability across Scales” .
  • October 2016:       Alla Sheffer, together with Professor Karan Singh from University of Toronto, received $125,000 of research funding from the NSERC Idea to Innovate (I2I) Program. The I2I grant is intended to support the development of a 3D software package that will enable designers to create three dimensional (3D) models directly from two dimensional (2D) concept sketches. Sketching is the first step in design, whether it is a drawing of a new concept car, a virtual spaceship for a movie, or a do-it-yourself customized 3D printed toy. Currently these design sketches are used purely as a reference when the designer proceeds to create the actual 3D model using conventional modeling software. In contrast, a person can view a 2D designer sketch of an object and instantly understand the 3D model depicted by the sketch. Having an algorithm which mimics this process would enable designers to directly convert their sketches into 3D models, reducing the need for cumbersome modeling software. With its powerful algorithms, the developed software will mimic how the human brain interprets 2D sketches and create a 3D model directly from the sketch. Sheffer and Singh are uniquely positioned to achieve this goal by combining a series of algorithms they recently developed, that transform 2D design drawings into surfaced 3D models. These methods, centered around the True2Form algorithm for converting 2D concept sketches into 3D curve networks, define the state of the art in sketch-based modeling of man-made shapes and outperform existing methods in terms of workflow, ease of use, versatility, and robustness.
  • September 2016:       Computer Science Department ranking website places UBC Computer Science in the top 4 across universities worldwide for computer graphics, as measured by top-tier publications during 2008-2016. We knew for many years that UBC Computer Science had one of the best computer graphics research groups in the world, and now we have some more numbers to show it. A new ranking of computer science departments across North America and Europe based on numbers of papers at top venues (, ranks UBC as #4 for computer graphics research, just behind a select few departments such as MIT and Stanford. The ranking for computer graphics is based on number of papers published in ACM Transactions on Graphics, including the proceedings of SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia, the most competitive venues in this field. UBC computer graphics faculty Robert Bridson, Wolfgang Heidrich, Dinesh Pai, Alla Sheffer, and Michiel van de Panne conduct research across a range of areas within computer graphics, including, modeling, imaging, rendering and animation and actively collaborate with many other top research groups in the world.
  • July 2016:       A team from UBC Computer Science led by Professor Dinesh Pai received the Web3D Best Paper Award for Real-Time Eye Simulation at the 2016 ACM SIGGRAPH Web3D conference, held in Anaheim, CA, from July 22 to July 24, 2016. The region of the face around the eyes is critically important for conveying lifelike realism in character animation, especially for human characters. But this has proved extremely challenging in real-time settings such as games and in the web browser. UBC research in Prof. Pai's group addresses this key deficiency with new techniques and software that can run in real-time in modern browsers, including on mobile phones. For more information, and to try the software, visit D. R. Neog, J. Cardoso, A. Ranjan and D. K. Pai, “Interactive Gaze Driven Animation of the Eye Region,” in Proceedings of the ACM SIGGRAPH Web3D conference (21st Annual International Conference on 3D Web Technology), Anaheim, CA, July 22-24, 2016.
  • June 2016:       Congratulations to Kellogg Booth, who last week was awarded the 2016 Canadian Digital Media Pioneer Award. As the award citation notes, "It is hard to imagine a single individual working in the field over the past 40 years who has done as much to foster Canadian excellence in new media research than Kellogg Booth. He has consistently been a selfless advocate, leader, mentor, and practitioner in the field. As such, he is a true Canadian Digital Media Pioneer." His vision in launching and leading the GRAND Network of Centres of Excellence have had impact far beyond UBC, across all of Canada. Previous winners of the award include a prestigious pantheon of Canadian innovators in digital media, including the inventors of computer-based keyframing, the pioneer of multi-touch systems, the President of EA Worldwide Studios who further led the development of the Xbox Kinect, and the founders of SMART Technologies. More information at the Graphics Interface website .
  • June 2016:       Michiel van de Panne received the 2016 Achievement Award from the Canadian Human-Computer Communication Society at its annual Graphics Interface conference (June 1-3) in Victoria, BC. The award recognizes Canadian researchers who have made substantial contributions to the fields of computer graphics, visualization, or human-computer interaction. He was given the award for research that spans computer graphics, computer animation, and robotics, the modeling of human and animal motion and the motor skills that underly that movement. The award was established in 1990 and awarded from time to time since then, most recently on an annual basis. Michiel is the third UBC Computer Science faculty member to receive this award. The first was Professor Alain Fournier in 1994. More information at the Graphics Interface website .
  • February 2016:       Joanna McGrenere is the recipient of the 2015 UBC Killam Faculty Research Fellowship. Offered on a competitive basis, these awards are intended to support faculty members engaged in research projects of broad significance. Joanna is spending her sabbatical year in Paris collaborating with researchers at INRIA studying co-adaptive human-computer-interaction: how users appropriate software applications for their own use, adapt the software to their needs, and adapt themselves to the software’s constraints.
  • January 2016:       UBC Computer Science and the Imager lab will be well represented at CHI 2016. The following papers have been accepted:
  • Janzen, I., Rajendran, V. K., & Booth, K. S. (2016, May 7-12). The impact of target depth on pointing performance. ACM Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '16), San Jose, CA.
  • Ponsard, A., & McGrenere, J. (2016, May 7-12). Anchored Customization: Anchoring Settings to the Application Interface to Afford Customization. ACM Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '16), San Jose, CA.
  • Schneider, O.S., Seifi, H., Kashani, S., Chun, M., & MacLean, K. E. (2016, May 7-12). HapTurk: Crowdsourcing Affective Ratings of Vibrotactile Icons. ACM Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '16), San Jose, CA. Abstract: Vibrotactile (VT) display is becoming a standard component of informative user experience, where notifications and feedback must convey information eyes-free. However, effective design is hindered by incomplete understanding of relevant perceptual qualities. To access evaluation streamlining now common in visual design, we introduce proxy modalities as a way to crowdsource VT sensations by reliably communicating high-level features through a crowd-accessible channel. We investigate two proxy modalities to represent a high-fidelity tactor: a new VT visualization, and low-fidelity vibratory translations playable on commodity smartphones. We translated 10 high-fidelity vibrations into both modalities, and in two user studies found that both proxy modalities can communicate affective features, and are consistent when deployed remotely over Mechanical Turk. We analyze fit of features to modalities and suggest future improvements. Preprint: Video: On its way, finished within 1 week.
  • The following paper was accepted for the Macaron Haptics Symposium:
  • Schneider, O.S. & MacLean, K.E. (2016, April 8-11). Studying Design Process and Example Use with Macaron, a Web-based Vibrotactile Effect Editor. IEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS’16). Philadelphia, PA, USA. Abstract: Examples are a critical part of any design process. However, current libraries for vibrotactile (VT) effects provide neither insight into examples’ construction nor capability for their deconstruction and re-composition. To investigate example use in VT design, we introduce Macaron, a web-based VT effect editor built as both a practical tool that leverages examples, and a means of studying the VT design process. We used Macaron to qualitatively characterize participants’ design processes, and observed two basic uses of examples: as a starting point or template for a design task, and as a method of learning to use VT parameters effectively. We discuss how features supporting internal visibility and composition influenced these example uses, and articulate several implications for VT editing tools and libraries of VT examples. We conclude with future work, including plans to deploy Macaron online to examine examples and other aspects of VT design in situ. Preprint: coming (next 1-2 weeks, the camera-ready version hasn’t been uploaded yet). Image: coming (next 1-2 weeks). Video: coming (next 1-2 weeks).
  • November 2015:       Tamara Munzner is the recipient of the 2015 Visualization Technical Achievement Award. The award is given in recognition of her foundational research that has 'produced a scientific basis for principles and design choices for visualization', which culminated in her 2014 book Visualization Analysis and Design from CRC Press. The award was presented at the IEEE VIS Conference in Chicago on Oct 27, 2015. Tamara is the first female recipient of the award since the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee started the awards program in 2004. For the full details, see

top of page