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UbiComp-Bound: Cornell Info Sci PhDs Headed to Global Computing Showcase

When the annual conference celebrating ubiquitous computing takes place in Osaka, Japan next week, a group from Cornell’s Information Science program will be there to experience it firsthand.

A team of PhD students – along with Info Science Professor Tanzeem Choudhury – will attend UbiComp 2015, the unrivaled showcase of developments in the field of ubiquitous and pervasive computing. The conference begins Monday and runs through the week.  

“We are used to having phones and computers with us all the time, but computing is now everywhere -- in our cars, appliances and even furniture,” Choudhury said. “Ubiquitous computing looks at how to design technology that fits people, examines the differences in individuals, environments and contexts and enables technology to help people in making them more healthy, connected, and productive.”

And UbiComp is where the field’s best go to network, present research and swap ideas.

“It is the conference of the field,” she said.

Added Info Sci PhD student Jean Marcel Dos Reis Costa, “UbiComp will be a great opportunity to discuss our ideas with other researchers and potentially start new collaborations.”

Costa’s research is included among the five Cornell papers accepted for the event. “Mindless Computing: Designing Technologies to Subtly Influence Behavior” – written jointly by Costa, Choudhury, Info Sci PhD Alexander Adams, and Assistant Professor Malte Jung – presents a new approach for developing behavior-change technologies.

“Most of the technologies in this domain, such as fitness trackers, require too much attention and effort from users,” Costa said. “In the paper we show how to develop technologies to subtly influence people’s behavior without requiring their conscious awareness.” 

Along with “Mindless Computing”, the four other accepted papers are:

• “Dopple Sleep: A Contactless Unobtrusive Sleep Sensing System Using Short-Range Doppler Radar” – Highlighting the development of an unobtrusive sleep-sensing system, this paper is written with research by Choudhury along with Info Sci PhDs Tauhidur Rahman and Alexander Adams. It received an honorable mention, a distinction given by the Ubicomp program committee to a paper considered among the top 5 percent of all submissions.

• “MyBehavior: Automatic Personalized Health Feedback from User Behaviors and Preferences using Smartphones” – written by Info Sci PhD student Mashfiqui Rabbi, Post Doc Hane Aung, and Choudhury.

• “Social (Media) Jet Lag: How Usage of Social Technology Can Modulate and Reflect Circadian Rhythms” – written by Info Sci PhDs Elizabeth Murnane and Saeed Abdullah, Post Doc Mark Matthews, Info Sci Professor Geri Gay and Choudhury.

• “Spatial Subterfuge: An Experience Sampling Study To Predict Deceptive Location Disclosures” – written by Info Sci PhD candidate Shion Guha and Cornell Electric and Computing Engineering Professor Stephen Wicker.

Choudhury, who served as UbiComp program co-chair this year, will deliver keynote lectures at workshops on Human Behavior Understanding and Broadening Participation, a talk on promoting diversity in the field. Calling the opportunity an honor, Choudhury said she is particularly interested in the diversity workshop because it offers the chance to discuss women in the computer science field and the barriers that exist (“There are lots,” she said).

For presenting students, UbiComp affords a unique opportunity: It’s not uncommon for students to return from the conference with leads for jobs and internships, she said.

“The best of the field is at UbiComp,” she said. “For students to be there is important career-wise.”