Personalized Adaptation to Accommodate Diverse User Needs

Event Date: March 24, 2011
Speaker: Leah Findlater
Speaker Affiliation: University of Washington
Sponsor: ECE prospective Faculty Member
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: MSEE 239
Contact Name: Professor Niklas Elmqvist
Contact Phone: 765-494-0364
Contact Email:

Software interfaces offer immense potential to support individual user needs through adaptation. Benefits of personalization include, for example, hiding unnecessarily complex options for only a basic task, or interpreting input specifically to accommodate a user with a severe motor impairment. However, effectively tapping into this potential is a major challenge; automatically adapting the user interface can improve performance and satisfaction, but, if not done well, it can also have the opposite effect. The overarching goal of my research is to accommodate diverse user needs through personalized adaptation, reducing information complexity, improving performance, and facilitating access for users with a range of motor and cognitive abilities. In this talk, I will first give an overview of my dissertation work on fundamental aspects of personalized interaction in the context of automatically adapting command structures (e.g., menus and toolbars) to reduce software application complexity. I will also discuss two ongoing projects where I am applying personalization to specific problem domains: (1) improving touch screen text input and (2) easing input for users with motor impairments.


Leah Findlater is an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Information School at the University of Washington, advised by Professor Jacob Wobbrock. Her research focuses on accommodating diverse user needs through personalized adaptation to reduce information complexity and facilitate accessibility for a range of education levels, and motor and cognitive abilities. This work has led to a number of publications in top-tier academic venues and has been recognized with CHI 2009 and CHI 2010 Best Paper Awards. Leah received her PhD in Computer Science in 2009 from the University of British Columbia, where she worked with Professor Joanna McGrenere and was awarded an IBM Centers for Advanced Studies Fellowship. She has collaborated with IBM Toronto Software Lab and with Microsoft Research in India and Redmond, WA.