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Research / Discovery

Computer Science professor secures CSU's first Google Research Award

April 26, 2013

Year-long grant will support research on using audio cues to improve smartphone interaction and accessibility for disabled users.

Jaime RuizJaime Ruiz, Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Colorado State University, has received the university’s first Google Faculty Research Award to help smartphones get a little bit smarter about interacting with users.

The year-long grant, made during the Winter 2013 round of funding, will support Ruiz’s project “Using Audio Cues to Support Motion Gesture Interaction and Accessibility on Mobile Devices.”

To interact with today’s smartphones, users can either touch the screen or physically move the device – shake to shuffle songs or turn sideways to see a bigger image, for example – in what are called motion gestures. One of the goals of this grant is to research techniques that can allow novice users to use such motion gestures as an input modality. Ruiz will also try to determine the feasibility of using motion gestures to increase the accessibility of smartphone devices for visually impaired users.

Researching three questions

According to the application for the Google Award, there are three research questions that Ruiz and his team will consider:

1. How can we communicate to end-users the motion gesture commands that are available on smartphone devices?
2. Can audio cues provide feedback to end-users about how an unsuccessful gesture differs from the desired gesture?
3. Can motion gestures make smartphones more accessible to the visually impaired?

The outcomes of this work will increase the usability and accessibility of smartphones for end-users with disabilities.

Google Research Awards support the work of world-class, full-time faculty members at top universities around the world performing cutting-edge research in computer science. The grants cover tuition and travel for a graduate student and provide faculty and students the opportunity to work directly with Google scientists and engineers.

During the most recent round, Google received almost 600 proposals from 46 different countries and decided to fund 102 projects, including this one from Dr. Ruiz.