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Himanshu Zade

I am currently working as a UX Researcher at Kern Communications. Previously, I was a visiting researcher in the Ubicomp Lab, HCII at Carnegie Mellon University. I worked with Anind for investigating how visual analytics can help to make machine learning more usable for people who wish to analyse and make sense out of the data available to them. In general, I enjoy conducting research and engineering solutions within HCI and design that best utilise the human capacity and further improve it. I am looking forward for PhD opportunities to further my research interests within Human-Computer Interaction.

I will soon be defending my Master's Thesis in Computer Science and Engineering at International Institute of Information Technology- Hyderabad (IIIT-H), India, under the guidance of Dr. Venkatesh Choppella in the PASCAL lab, SERC, IIIT-H. My thesis proposes a novel approach towards formalization of HCI and delivers a quantitative measure of simulation based learning for evolving user models.

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Projects

Gimlets: Usable Machine Learning

The project aims at making the application of machine learning algorithms to sensor data more usable and human friendly. My specific interest in the project is to understand and apply how interactive visualisations help the goal of usable machine learning.

Machine learning classification of sensor data is powerful- it lets you build systems to do activity recognition, stress detection, emotion recognition, and a lot of other tasks (especially physiological ones). But it's hard for non-experts to build classifiers. In the first part, we built and user-tested Gimlets to understand why it's difficult and what features could help future systems.

Further, I am investigating the role that visual analytics can play to help understand and analyse the results of a classifier. This will make the relationship between data, algorithms and the results easy to interpret. I am working on this project as a part of my research internship at the Human Computer Interaction Institute in CMU, Pittsburgh.

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May 2013 - Present | Mentor: Anind K. Dey

Breakdown Latency Study

This work measures the impact of system latency on user task perfromance and cognitive load.

More to come soon!

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Nov 2013 - Present | Mentor: Brandon, Anind K. Dey

Edit distance Modulo Bisimulation: A Quantitative Measure to Study Evolution of User Models

In order to analyze how users learn to use new devices, our proposed metric allows for a progressive comparison of evolving user models towards the device target model by measuring the behavioral proximity between them.

When a user learns to use a new device, her understanding of it evolves. A progressive comparison of the evolving user models towards the device target model, for analysing learning, involves determining the behavioral proximity between them. To quantify the gap between a user model and a target model, we introduce an edit distance metric for measuring their behavioral proximity using a bisimulation-based equivalence relation. We define edit distance to be the minimum number of edges and states with incident edges required to be deleted from and/or added to a user model to make it bisimilar to the target model. We propose an algorithm to compute edit distance between two models and employ the heuristic procedure on experimental data for computing edit distance between target and user models. The data is organised into two experiments depending on the device the user interacted with: (a) a simple device resembling a vending machine and (b) a close to real-world vehicle transmission model. The results validate our proposed metric as edit distance converges with progressive user learning, increases for erroneous learning, and remains unchanged indicating no learning.

Please find the paper here.

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May 2012 - Dec 2013 | Mentor: Venkatesh Choppella, Anind K. Dey | In the Proceedings of CHI 2014.

Mobile Suitability Heatmap

Developed and documented Mobile Interface Guidelines; built a mobile application for allowing CA Inc. products to check their mobile compatibility.

The increasing penetration of mobile internet has made it important for every service provider to have its presence into the mobile application space. The project aimed to develop a set of mobile interface guidelines to suit the mobile needs for CA mobile applications. Accordingly, we studied the factors that drive the standards for mobile interfaces and issued a set of the required guidelines.

The screenshots of the mobile application: (a) Home page of the application. (b) Menu screen displaying the different parameters used to predict the mobile suitability of the application. (c) The subparameters for one of the specific parameters in detail.
© 2013 CA Inc.

Further, we went ahead and built an application to verify if a mobile application is suitable to be used on a mobile device. The application allows a developer to specify which of the mobile interface guidelines (suggested by us) are followed by his application. Each guideline is further divided into multiple parameters to check the extent to which his application follows that particular guideline. Our application then generates a heatmap to suggest how much the developer’s mobile application is suitable for the mobile platform.

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Jul 2012 - Mar 2013 | Mentor: Kiran, Rama Velpuri | CA Inc.

Functionality or User Interface: which is easier to learn when changed?

A study to compare the learning gaps that are introduced when a user is exposed to a new version of a software, with which he is previously acquainted.

The rapid release model of software introduces frequent updates to the existing software every twelve-eighteen weeks, forcing a user to get accustomed to its new features. We propose an experimental study to compare the learning gaps that are introduced when a user is exposed to a new version of a software, with which he is previously acquainted. In order to explore the problem, we propose four models of a machine, with each model involving an update either to the functionality, or to the user interface, or both. We conducted a between-subjects experimental study with thirty-two participants who performed two tasks successively on two models of a machine, the second one being a updated model of the first. The analysis of the data using ANOVA implies that a change in the user interface dominates a change in the functionality. Results indicate that 88% of the errors were caused due to a change in the user interface. 87.5% of the users who underwent a change in the user interface hold this change responsible for the learning gap, while only 56.25% users who underwent a change in the functionality consider it to be a potential reason for the learning gap.

Please find the paper here.

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Nov 2011 - Nov 2012 | Mentor: Venkatesh Choppella, Harini Sampath | Published in IHCI 2012.

Virtual Labs User Interfaces

Our team built a framework for designing interfaces and structuring content to support asynchronous Virtual Lab development.

The project involved working out a solution that allows multiple lab developers to build user interfaces for their respective labs independently, such that:

  1. There is no mutual interference from different lab developers.
  2. They need not worry about any changes made to the main UI managed by the VLEAD team.
  3. The UIs for all the labs must always follow the standard UI guidelines as suggested by the VLEAD team.
The solution is articulated in detail by our team leader in a publication here.

VLEAD (Virtual Labs Engineering and Architecture Division), based in IIIT-Hyderabad campus, is one of the several teams working on the 'Virtual Labs' project. Know more here.

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Aug 2011 - May 2012 | Mentor: Rohit Ashok Khot, Venkatesh Choppella | Team: VLEAD

Y2Y: Youth to Youth

Designed and developed a framework to collect and disseminate information pertaining to urban jobs among the rural population in their local language through SMSes to harness the readily accessible mobile platform.

Access to digital information is readily available in the urban sector in India. It is however still a privilege in the rural India mainly due to the low penetration of computers and internet. Limited knowledge of English language further restricts this access. Employment being one of the dearest needs of this section, we decided to start from information pertaining to jobs in the urban regions. Based on a few surveys undertaken in rural areas neighbouring Hyderabad (India), we identified an information gap between the youth of the rural sector and the urban areas, that was deepening further. Though equipped with essential qualifications, these villagers had a little know-how of the existing opportunities. Apart from the limited access to web through internet cafes, another major concern was the lack of access to the right information that the local audiences could benefit from. As expected, medium of instruction mostly being English further contributed to this information gap.

The solution was to build a Youth-to-Youth information transfer system, so that the information available to the urban youth could be accessed by the unprivileged rural youth. We aimed to bridge the above identified information gap by integrating language and speech technology tools developed at various centres at IIIT-Hyderabad. This integration would result in client-server mobile information system where the users would get information in an identified domain (like education, jobs etc.) in their local languages on mobile phones through SMSes. Thereafter, they may look the references online. My direct contribution to the project was organising the information obtained from different sources and in different languages into a database. I was also responsible for ensuring that each query to the database is addressed correctly in the minimal possible time so that the appropriate information could be displayed online or sent via messages as required.

A rough map illustrating the architecture of our designed solution.

The tentative chosen domain of ‘Jobs and related work opportunities’ can be later extended as a complete information dissemination system informing about government welfare schemes, health care solutions, etc. to the rural population.

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Jan 2012 - May 2012 | Mentor: Mrs. Kavita Vemuri | Team: Jay, Manushree, Vishal

Demography based Automated Teller Machines

Identified and differentiated the design requirements of an Indian ATM from the global standards. We also suggested a simple design solution to help address the identified issues.

Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is a widely deployed and used system to cater the banking needs of the user. The idea behind availing an ATM based service was to improve the efficiency of overall financial transaction process. However, in practice, many users with native languages other than English, struggle to efficiently utilize the ATM services on offer. The reason being, even after offering services for more than 40 years, the design of the ATM remained unchanged despite the commonly observed shortcomings. Most of the proposed attempts to redesign the ATM interactivity with the user do not befit a particular diverse demographic setting. The aim of this paper is to address the issue of ATM usability in India. We came up with a novel ATM design both in terms of hardware and software that offers the user a personalised space to interact with the intuitive interface. The proposed design when tested, measured a usability score of 79 on the System Usability Scale, and hence suits the Indian scenario well. The study also issues a set of guidelines that should be considered for designing a system specific to a demography.

Here's the video that we presented at USID 2011 held at Auroville.

Video presented at USID 2011.

Please find the paper here.

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Aug 2011 - Mar 2012 | Mentor: Anind K. Dey | Team: Deepti Aggarwal | Published in IHCI 2012. | Design accepted in USID 2011.

Bingo: A smart trash bin

A working prototype of a sensor operated trash bin that enlarges its effective input surface area upon detection of any oncoming waste.

Damn! There again the trash lay off the container! Often many of us are crestfallen at our unsuccessful attempts to throw garbage into the trash cans. Not to forget the umpteen times when you are too lazy to move and take care of the trash lying around. Also, we were not too keen to see the trash can creep around. This was mainly since, mostly, our thrown trash ends up quite close to the trash can, but inside it. We blame this failure upon the limited opening of the trash and propose "BinGO" to serve us lazy folks better!

We wanted something that blossoms and shrinks alike a flower. The idea further evolved to having an inverted umbrella atop of the trash to help enlarge the effective opening. But how does this umbrella unfold itself in a corner of a room? Considering the limited space around a trash can, following images showcase how our idea evolved to a square form.

The proposed form with a square top initially opened from the center. This obstructed the trash that the can intended to capture. It was here that the concept again underwent a serious of design changes till we came up with the final concept.

We completed the design with sensor operated flaps that opened up to enlarge the effective opening upon detection of onwards coming trash. Considering the time constraints of the workshop, we limited ourselves to two flaps- the front and the back. The prototype was built using two servo motors that were operated using sensors. Our prototype worked effectively for trash thrown from a distance of about 3 feet at the same level of the opening.

We presented this project in MIT Media Lab workshop, Delhi, India in 2012 in the sesor-mediated track. (Apologies for the missing video!)

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Mar 2012 | MIT Media Labs Workshop, Delhi

Mobile Interface to Support Users of Varying Skill

Prototyped a mobile interface that supports both novice and expert users to allow sharing of mobile phones within the economically poor sections of Indian society.

The project involved choosing a device used regularly by people who find it difficult to operate, and improve it to suit their needs. I often saw senior citizens of India facing problems in using mobile phones mainly due to the technical inadequacy. Their lack of trust in technology further discourage them from using it. Moreover, often mobile phones are shared by people of a family in poorer sections of the society. This neccisitates a mobile interface that supports the interaction practices of novice users without making it frustrating for the expert users.

The iterative design process mainly involved the following actions in the specified sequence.

  1. First Design Iteration: A think aloud session helped me to uncover the general issues faced by people belonging to both the groups of mobile phone users- naive and expert. Based on the information gathered in the think aloud session, we presented a paper based prototype for the interface.
  2. Second Design Iteration: I gathered user feedback on the first design prototype that we presented to the users. Based on this, we modified the design and built a software prototype for the interface.
  3. Third Design Iteration: I performed a heuristic evaluation on the designed prototype to have a detailed insight about the usability issues within the design formulated in second iteration. The realisations from heuristic evaluation were incorporated into the prototype.
  4. Fourth Design Iteration: I conducted user testing on the prototype built in thrid iteration using a specified set of tasks and improved the design as per our findings of the user testing.
  5. Fifth Design Iteration: A final round of user testing was conducted to take care of any issues or limitations left in the design from iteration four.
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Aug 2011 - Dec 2011 | Mentors: Anind K. Dey, Jen Mankoff

Designing effective online examinations: Guidelines from a HCI evaluation

Assessed the online examination system of software engineering course offered at IIIT-Hyderabad; issued a set of guidelines from a HCI evaluation and incorporated them into the existing system.

The various set of arguments in favor and in opposition to the introduction of web based examinations have made it essential to check the skills required to master this transition. It is this ideology that has made comparison between the earlier (paper based) and current day (web based) methodologies significant. Therefore, we conducted a study on the online examination portal used by the students of the software engineering elective offered IIIT Hyderabad. It consisted of a survey that gave a basic idea about the student perception of the portal, followed by interview sessions with the students to acknowledge their issues and concerns in certain specific domains with respect to the usability of the portal, and later an experiment supported by talk aloud assessment. We conclude the report by discussing the usability techniques that will help us formulate a set of guidelines to be followed and thus design better online examinations.

Please find the report here.

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Aug 2011 - Nov 2011 | Mentor: Herre Van Oostendorp, Bipin Indurkhya | Team: Kirti Garg, Abhinash

Principles of Programming Languages Virtual Lab

Designed and developed a Virtual Lab for Principles of programming languages (POPL).

The POPL virtual lab is a part of an MHRD iniitiative to build virtual labs to provide remote access to labs in computer science, To enthuse students to conduct experiments by the arousing their curiosity, and to share costly equipment and resources, which are otherwise available to limited number of users due to constraints on time and geographical distances.

You can find more about the project and an online version of the finished lab here.

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Aug 2010 - Apr 2011 | Mentor: Venkatesh Choppella | Team: Swathy Pendyala, VLEAD

Farrom

Designed and developed a prototype for a concept idea involving open field version of an indoor game 'Carrom'.

Please find the slides attached.

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Jan 2011 - April 2011 | Mentor: Kavita Vemuri | Team: Vishal, Shashank, Jaspal

Hostel occupancy map generation

A user friendly, web-based portal for better administration of the hostels; included features like room booking, automatic batch allocation, key handling and complaint registration.

This was a course project for the Software Systems Analysis and Design coursework. The aim was to smoothen the process of room allocation given the limited availability of hostels on campus in IIIT-Hyderabad, India. Apart from centralised room allocation, we also took care of registration of complaints and archiving the maintainence activites. The process involved requirements gathering, design and development of the software, and verification and validation of the built software. We took support of different tools and languages including PHP, HTML, MySQL, Javascript, CSS, Python to come up with the solution.

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Mar 2010 - Jul 2010 | Mentor: C.V. Jawahar, Kirti Garg | Team: Vishal Garg

Ekjaa website layout

Designed the information layout and the web pages for Ekjaa organisation. Also designed the logo and various posters to help the Ekjaa team campaign effectively.

Please visit Ekjaa here!

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May 2010 - Jul 2010 | Team: Harsha Mukherjee, Tushar | Ekjaa.org

TrackWiki pop-book

Developed a plugin to automate the process of importing the reST wiki pages into trac database. more...
May 2010 - Jul 2010 | Mentor: Venkatesh Choppella | Team: Shilpa Sarawagi

Teaching Assistant Portal

An online portal to rank teaching assistants as per their applications to streamline and automate the process of selecting a few most suitable assistants for a particular course from the pool of applicants. more...
Jan 2010 - Mar 2010 | Mentor: Kirti Garg | Team: Ishaan Singh

Chez

An application that uses Yahoo map APIs to allow tagging a place (like Hospitals, Schools, Restaurants, etc.) with its features to optimize the search for such facilities.

Our work at Yahoo Hackathon organised at IIIT-Hyderabad, India, in 2010 secured a place within top 10 among 150 teams. Often, we want to visit a restaurant not because it is in the vicinity, but because it serves a particular cuisine. The same extends to different facilities like hospitals, shopping places etc. which can be ranked as per different features available at that facility. Our hack focussed on allowing the users to tag a place with its features and then optimize the search for a facility based on its specific features.

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Jan 2010 | Team: Mohak, Navni | Yahoo HackU

Publications

H. Zade, S. Adimoolam, S. Gollapudi, A. Dey and V. Choppella. Edit Distance Modulo Bisimulation: A quantitative measure to study evolving user models. In the Proceedings of CHI '14, Toronto, Canada, 2014.
H. Zade and V. Choppella. Functionality or User Interface: which is easier to learn when changed? In the Proceedings of 4th IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Human Computer Interaction, Kharagpur, India, 2012.
D. Aggarwal, H. Zade, and A. Dey. Demography based Automated Teller Machines. In the Proceedings of 4th International Conference on Human Computer Interaction, Pune, India, 2012.

Work Experience

UX Researcher at Kern Communications

October 2014 - now | Kern Communications | Hyderabad, India.

Research Visitor at Ubicomp Lab, HCII

May 2013 - April 2014 | Carnegie Mellon University | Pittsburgh, USA.

Intern for Innovation Center CA Inc.

Jul 2012 - Mar 2013 | CA Technologies Inc. | Hyderabad, India.

Research and Academic:

Research Assistant for VLEAD

Aug 2011 - May 2012 | VLEAD | Hyderabad, India.

Teaching Assistant for Principles of Programming Languages

Aug 2011 - Dec 2011 | IIIT-H | Hyderabad, India.

Research Assistant for Virtual Labs

Aug 2010 - Apr 2011 | Pascal Lab @ IIIT-H | Hyderabad, India.

Teaching Assistant for Humanities

Aug 2010 - Dec 2010 | IIIT-H | Hyderabad, India.

Web Design:

Designed and Developed web pages for The Development Stories (project discarded)

May 2012 - Jul 2012 | Hyderabad, India.

Designed web pages for Ekjaa

May 2010 - Jul 2010 | Hyderabad, India.

Times when I am free

I am a keen traveler, but need to visit many more places before I mark them on a map! :(

Making cards, art, and origami is another one!

I also like studying spatial design and huge architectural spaces. Buildings surely drive me crazy! Apart from appreciating, I do sketch decent floorplans, elevations, interiors etc. and end up doing it most of my spare time.

Food, something I can never get bored of! Also try cooking at times.

That's all about me for now! :)