Congrats to Makeability Lab alum Dhruv Jain (now a professor at the University of Michigan) for being honored with the SIGCHI Outstanding Dissertation Award. The Award "recognizes the most outstanding research contributions from recently graduated PhD students within the HCI community, showcasing the quality and impact of HCI research."
Congratulations as well to the two other winners: Megan Hofmann and Kai Lukoff. Impressively, all three winners have UW affiliation: Kai was advised by Professors Alexis Hiniker and Sean Munson; Megan by Professor Jen Mankoff and Scott Hudson (CMU); and Dhruv by me and Professor Leah Findlater.
The award recognition blurb for Dhruv reads:
Dhruv “DJ” Jain is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, also affiliated with the School of Information and Department of Family Medicine. His research focuses on accessibility, and investigates the full cycle of identifying user needs, developing novel assistive technology systems, and studying these systems in the field. He got his Ph.D. from University of Washington and Masters from the MIT Media Lab.
DJ’s dissertation advances the design and evaluation of interactive systems to improve sound awareness for people who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). This research, drawing on his own experience as a person who is hard of hearing, has two goals: first, to better understand how DHH people feel about technology-mediated sound awareness and how these feelings manifest across contexts; and second, to design, build, and study new technical solutions for sound using iterative, human-centered design.
DJ’s dissertation makes contributions across the human-centered design pipeline, including new research methods for disability and technology design, advancing understanding of preferences for sound classification and real-time captioning, designing and implementing new interactive sound awareness systems on IoT devices, smartwatches, and augmented reality glasses, and evaluating these systems in lab studies and field deployments.
The work was honored with an ACM ASSETS Best Artifact award, selected for a CACM Research Highlights article, covered by popular press venues including CNN, New Scientist, and Forbes, directly impacted real-time captioning work at Google, and yielded a released app called SoundWatch in the Google Play store that is being used by DHH people across the world for real-time sound recognition.
DJ’s dissertation exemplifies the use of end-to-end human-centered research to define and advance methods and tools for real-time sound recognition, fundamentally advancing our understanding of DHH people’s needs around sound recognition and providing technical solutions to support those needs.