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User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) 2022 Conference Report

By Kevin Feng

November 2022

Although UIST 2022 was my third conference I attended in grad school, it is the first conference at which I was a student volunteer. Being a student volunteer gave me an invaluable chance to connect with some of the other student volunteers, some of whom were looking to apply to PhD programs and were seeking my advice, others were more senior students who gave me advice and insights. Volunteering also gave me a behind-the-scenes perspective on how conferences are run. As one of the student volunteer co-chairs said, “student volunteers basically run the whole conference; we have to work horizontally across the organizing committee with practically everyone.” Every volunteer was expected to volunteer for a certain number of hours, and they could freely explore the conference when not volunteering, which made the entire situation quite flexible overall.

Something particular to UIST that is not so prevalent at other conferences are the demos sessions. The purpose of these sessions was to allow presenters to allow conferencegoers to interact directly with the systems they built. Understandably, the field of VR and AR has been a hot topic at UIST and many demos were centered around that, which were fun to try out—I reconnected with a friend from a couple years ago who presented a demo of her paper on incorporating real-life distractions into VR. It was great getting to experience the system described in her paper and during her talk for myself. Other demos were fascinating as well and included systems that allowed a user to apply pressure to any wall to control an on-screen object, real-time object segmentation and annotation in computer vision, and recharging a VR system’s battery through movement. In general, I found UIST to be much more hardware-oriented than some of the other HCI and HCI-adjacent conferences I am familiar with. It is also admirable that various demo teams transported hardware from their home location thousands of kilometers away, often from other continents, to assemble and show their systems at UIST. 

Overall, this conference trip helped me feel more tightly integrated into the UIST community. I look forward to submitting to UIST next year and presenting (in person) in future conferences.