Jacob O. Wobbrock awarded Ten-Year Technical Impact Award

January 5, 2023

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has honored CREATE Co-Director Jacob O. Wobbrock and colleagues with a 10-year lasting impact award for their groundbreaking work improving how computers recognize stroke gestures.

Jacob O. Wobbrock, a 40-something white man with short hair, a beard, and glasses. He is smiling in front of a white board.

Wobbrock, a professor in the Information School, and co-authors Radu-Daniel Vatavu and Lisa Anthony were presented with the 2022 Ten Year Technical Impact Award in November at the ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interaction (ICMI). The award honors their 2012 paper titled Gestures as point clouds: A $P recognizer for user interface prototypeswhich also won ICMI’s Outstanding Paper Award when it was published.

The $P point-cloud gesture recognizer was a key advancement in the way computers recognize stroke gestures, such as swipes, shapes, or drawings on a touchscreen. It provided a new way to quickly and accurately recognize what users’ fingers or styluses were telling their devices to do, and even could be used with whole-hand gestures to accomplish more complex tasks such as typing in the air or controlling a drone with finger movements.

The research built on Wobbrock’s 2007 invention of the $1 unistroke recognizer, which made it much easier for devices to recognize single-stroke gestures, such as a circle or a triangle. Wobbrock called it “$1” — 100 pennies — because it required only 100 lines of code, making it easy for user interface developers to incorporate gestures in their prototypes.

This article was excerpted from the UW iSchool article, iSchool’s Wobbrock Honored for Lasting Impact by Doug Parry