Tux Member Presentation

Cosmin Munteanu:
Natural interactions with assistive technologies for under-represented users

2016-03-22 12:30 at U of T DGP Lab: BA5187


Humans’ natural abilities have allowed us to interact with the surrounding environment in complex ways, from easily manipulating physical objects to communicating with others through speech. Yet when we interact with many digital technologies, we largely do so by ceding direct control and instead employing (digital) proxies. For marginalized user groups, such interactions may present insurmountable barriers that only widen our information-centric society’s digital divide. While speech and multimodal interaction are often challenging computationally, I have shown in my research that, despite their inherent lack of accuracy, they can empower the users and allow them to interact in almost material ways with digital artefacts. This has the potential to make assistive technologies more interactive and more adoptable by their users. In this talk, I will briefly discuss how speech processing, despite its inherent limitations, can be used to enhance current interaction paradigms. I will then argue that such natural interactions can be particularly useful in improving marginalized users’ interaction with assistive technologies. To support this, I will present several examples of multimodal assistive technologies that support older adults and low-literacy adults in their daily lives.


Cosmin Munteanu is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology (University of Toronto at Mississauga), and Co-Director of the Technologies for Ageing Gracefully lab (Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto). His area of expertise is at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction, Automatic Speech Recognition, Natural User Interfaces, Mobile Computing, Ethics in Computing Research, and Assistive Technologies. His main research goal is to bridge the digital divides faced by under-represented users by designing natural, meaningful, culturally-appropriate, and safe interactions between people, media, and computing devices. Cosmin’s multidisciplinary interests include developing applications that improve access to information for marginalized user groups, such as for elders whose enjoyment of life and participation in society could be better supported by advances in interactive assistive technologies.