Last week (Friday 8 3/13 and Saturday 9 3/13) I attended to the 4th workshop uniting the Californias hosted by the STAR group at UC Irvine

This workshop born with the idea of bringing together groups of scientists, who are desirable close geographically, and working from a variety of disciplines all focused on interactive and ubiquitous computing. The distance between Ensenada and Irvine is less than 200 miles, with San Diego half way between the two, and researchers at CICESE, UABC, UC Irvine and UCSD use similar tools and methods to address similar human problem areas. Thus, there exists substantial untapped potential to create deeper and more profound connections between both countries and among all these institutions. This workshop supports further engagement among these institutions in promotion of long-term engagement of research projects and the exchange of students.

First of all, I would like to thank Lizbeth Escobedo (UABC) and Jed Brubacker (UC Irvine) who did an amazing job in organizing this workshop, and to all the participants that attended. Yearly, I am truly stunned on how bringing together the right set of people under the same roof creates interesting and enormous opportunities for discussion.

The workshop started on Friday 8 3/13 where 7 very talented phd students presented their proposals and late breaking results during the traditional doctoral consortium. Judith Gregory (UC Irvine), David H. Nguyen (Nokia research), and myself integrated the industry-academia panel for the DC. I really enjoy sharing the panel with Judith and David because I think we were pretty connected and in sync with our comments, and the interaction dynamics between the three of us was relaxed and cheerful, and I guess this showed in the type of feedback we gave to students, hopefully students noticed it. Julia Haines (UC Irvine) started the panel discussing topics related to social capital, exportation of innovation, cultural aspects, and sustainability. Then, Jessica Beltran (CICESE) talked about using enthropography firms to analyze audio for activity recognition. Then, Dakuo Wang (UC Irvine) talked about censorship practices on Chinese microblogging. Laura Piña (UCSD) talked about “in situ awareness” in personal informatics for behavior-change. Amado Velazquez (CICESE) talked about adaptive exergaming experiences for elders. Adam Merkrut (UCSD) talked about the khan academy to support education in Tijuana. And, last but not least, Sen Hirano (UC Irvine) gave an overview of his projects including innovative technologies for Autism, and gas sensors for cooking and premature infants caring. Overall, I was surprised on how well students presented their work and most of the feedback was directed towards “framing” which is always challenging for phd students.

Then, in the afternoon, we crashed into the informatics department seminar, and the main comments I got from my students is that it was very interesting to see the practices of other departments specially having a sneak peak of the experiences of students at UC Irvine.

The next day Saturday 9 3/13 we started the day with a very inspiring keynote by Judy Olson (UC Irvine) talking about different kinds of impact. Then, we had the opportunity to enjoy several “crazy ideas” from researchers. Jesus Favela (CICESE) talked about moving from reflection to perception, and Bill Griswold (UCSD) talked about the opposite highlighting the importance of “big data” for health reflection. Then, Antonio Garcia-Macias (CICESE) talked about an initiative by the ToroLab studio “the Farm” as an opportunity to develop collaborative projects. And Don Patterson (UC Irvine) talked about collapse computing specifically the bitcoin project. Then all participants break off in groups to discuss issues related to interpersonal communication, health, entertainment, education, and currency. The workshop closed with a very interesting keynote by Paul Dourish (UC Irvine) talking about the new Intel research center devoted to research projects around social computing.

Overall, I really enjoyed this workshop, and in contrast with other workshops, I felt that we have grown as a cohesive community as several participants have been in touch and sharing experiences on their personal and academic life. So that was pretty exciting and nice to see.