March 1, 2018
Elizabeth Churchill
Human Computer Interaction
The Great Hall

Reflection | Video | Podcast | Photos

Currently a Director of User Experience at Google, Dr. Elizabeth Churchill is an applied social scientist working in the area of human computer interaction, computer mediated communication, mobile/ubiquitous computing and social media. Elizabeth has a BSc in Experimental Psychology, an MSc in Knowledge Based Systems, both from the University of Sussex, and a PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Cambridge. Originally a psychologist by training, throughout her career Elizabeth has focused on understanding people’s social and collaborative interactions in their everyday digital and physical contexts. She has studied, designed and collaborated in creating online collaboration tools (e.g. virtual worlds, collaboration/chat spaces), applications and services for mobile and personal devices, and media installations in public spaces for distributed collaboration and communication. Elizabeth is the current Executive Vice President of ACM SigCHI (Human Computer Interaction Special Interest Group).

Event Reflection

by Billy Clouse

On March 1, Google's Director of User Experience visited SUU to discuss human-computer interaction. As usual, this talk was different than the other A.P.E.X. Events this semester; she used images and real-life situations to explain how interfaces have changed over time.

For example, early rotary phones were seen as beautiful home decorations, but they were nowhere near perfect. The numbers on the dial would rub off after extensive use and the shape of the phone led to a lot of people dropping it.

Today, phones are different, but the idea is the same: each improvement creates a new set of problems.

Churchill noted in her talk that although phones with touch screens are relatively new, research in direct manipulation, which is the foundation of the interface, was done in the 90s. The toggles, buttons, and sliding elements we see today are largely influenced by this early research.

To build the best user experience, Google produced Material Design, a project Churchill has worked on that helps individuals understand the best practices of mobile design. For example, certain fonts make organizations more reputable, and floating action buttons lead to more interaction from the user.

According to Churchill, Google has used the principles of Material Design in their own work. For example, the Gmail logo was redesigned using physical mockups of the folding envelope to see how shadows fall.

Going forward, Churchill said that Google will be looking to discover the best practices for other media, such as virtual reality, watches, and Google Glass. In addition, they are analyzing the needs and preferences of different cultures and countries.

Join us next week, March 8, for Jen Marlowe's lecture, "Reflections on Resistance: From Palestine to Darfur to Death Row." The filmmaker, playwright, and social activist will present at 11:30 a.m. in Thorley Recital Hall of the Music Building.



APEX Hour Podcast

Audio Transcript