Computing That Serves

Colloquium: The Disappearing UI


Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 11:00am


Karthik Ramani - Purdue University


Mike Jones

The recent success of the depth camera such as the Kinect and Leap Motion in the gaming industry is a direct example of the importance of using human motion to interactively create simple and more interesting virtual experiences. On the other hand current shape modeling paradigms and tools remain non-intuitive and require significant training since they segregate 3D shapes into hierarchical 2D inputs using WIMP (windows-icons-menus-pointers), thus binding the user to stringent procedural steps making interactions cumbersome.

 In the first part of this talk, using a depth camera we present new interaction paradigms for creation, interaction and manipulation of 3D shapes through natural integration of human gestures with shape modeling schemes. We demonstrate the modeling of a wide variety of 3D shapes within a few seconds.

Multitouch surfaces are becoming prevalent, but most existing technologies are only capable of detecting the user’s actual points of contact on the surface and not the identity, posture, and handedness of the user. We define the concept of extended multitouch interaction as a richer input modality that includes all of this information. We further present a practical solution to achieve this on tabletop displays based on mounting a single commodity depth camera above a horizontal surface. This will enable us to not only detect when the surface is being touched, but also recover the user’s exact finger and hand posture, as well as distinguish between different users and their handedness. We validate our approach using two user studies, and deploy the technology in a scratchpad application as well as in a sketching tool that integrates pen and touch for creating beautified sketches on any surface.

The talk will summarize the critical role of understanding and designing new interactions based on human centric approaches.


Karthik Ramani is a Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. He earned his B.Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 1985, an MS from Ohio State University, in 1987, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1991, all in Mechanical Engineering. He directs the C Design lab which represents its focus in the gelatinous space at the intersection of design, art and science of geometric computing, and engineering. While his research lies at the intersection of mechanical engineering and information science and technology, the areas span design and manufacturing, new kernels for shape understanding using machine learning, geometric computing and human-computer natural user interaction and interfaces with shapes and sketches.