Saul Greenberg
University of Calgary

Proxemic Interactions: the New Ubicomp
photo of ​Saul GreenbergAbstract: In the everyday world, much of what we do as social beings is dictated by how we interpret spatial relationships. This is called proxemics. What is surprising is how little people's expectations of spatial relationships are used in interaction design, i.e., in terms of mediating people's interactions with surrounding digital devices such as digital surfaces, mobile phones, tablets and computers.

Our interest is in proxemic interaction, which imagines a world of devices that have fine-grained knowledge of nearby people and other devices — how they move into range, their precise distance, their identity and even their orientation — and how such knowledge can be exploited to design interaction techniques.

Just as people expect increasing engagement and intimacy as they approach others, so should they naturally expect increasing connectivity and interaction possibilities as they bring themselves and their devices in close proximity to one another and to other things in their everyday ecology. This presentation will be accessible to all computer scientists and even to the lay public. I will describe and illustrate (through videos) work in progress rather than mature work. Thus, I particularly welcome discussion, feedback, and critique from the community.

Biography: Saul Greenberg is a full professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary. While he is a computer scientist by training, the work by Saul and his talented students typifies the cross-discipline aspects of Human Computer Interaction, Computer Supported Co-operative Work, and Ubiquitous Computing. He and his crew are well known for their development of toolkits enabling rapid prototyping of groupware and ubiquitous appliances; innovative and seminal system designs based on observations of social phenomenon; articulation of design-oriented social science theories, and refinement of evaluation methods. 

He holds the iCORE/NSERC/Smart Technologies Industrial Chair in Interactive Technologies. He also holds a University Professorship, which is a distinguished University of Calgary award recognizing research excellence. He received the CHCCS Achievement award in May 2007 and was also elected to the ACM CHI Academy in April 2005 for his overall contributions to the field of Human Computer Interaction. Saul is a prolific author who has authored and edited several books and published many refereed articles, as listed at

He is also known for his strong commitment in making his tools, systems, and educational material readily available to other researchers and educators.

Did you miss Saul Greenberg's lecture or would you like to hear it again? If so, just start the video below.