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Juan Pablo Hourcade, PhD: PointAssist – Analyzing Sub-Movement Characteristics to Aid in Pointing Tasks



Pointing tasks are at the foundation of interactions with graphical user interfaces. Many populations including young children, older adults, and people with motor impairments have difficulty conducting pointing tasks on computers. Many strategies have been discussed in the human-computer interaction community to aid in pointing tasks. Juan Pablo Hourcade presents a different approach in PointAssist, software that aids in pointing tasks by analyzing the characteristics of sub-movements, detecting when users have difficulty pointing, and triggering a precision mode that slows the speed of the cursor in those cases. PointAssist is designed to help improve and maintain pointing skills, runs as a background process working with existing software, is not vulnerable to occluding targets or clusters of targets, and does not modify the visual appearance or the feel of user interfaces. Dr. Hourcade describes PointAssist and discusses the results of studies with young children, older adults, and adults with Parkinson’s Disease.


Juan Pablo Hourcade is an Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa’s Department of Computer Science. His main area of research is human-computer interaction, with a concentration on the design, implementation, and evaluation of technologies that support creativity, collaboration, and information access for a variety of users, including children and older adults. Dr. Hourcade completed his graduate studies at the University of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory where he obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2003. Dr. Hourcade is actively involved in the research community, serving as Associate Chair for the CHI 2010 Conference, Papers Chair of the IDC 2004 Conference, Papers Co-Chair of the IDC 2005 Conference, and Workshops Chair of the IDC 2008 Conference. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Interacting with Computers. He also participates in National Science Foundation panels and reviews articles for numerous journals and conferences.