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Personal Universal Controllers: Controlling Complex Appliances with GUIs and Speech. Jeffrey Nichols and Brad A. Myers Carnegie Mellon University April 8, 2003. CHI 2003 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The Problem. Appliances are too complex.

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Personal universal controllers controlling complex appliances with guis and speech l.jpg

Personal Universal Controllers:Controlling Complex Appliances with GUIs and Speech

Jeffrey Nichols and Brad A. Myers

Carnegie Mellon University

April 8, 2003

CHI 2003 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

The problem l.jpg
The Problem

Appliances are too complex

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The Problem, cont.

  • Each complex appliance has its own idiosyncratic interface!

    • Home and Car Stereos

    • VCRs & Camcorders

    • Car Navigation Systems

    • Answering Machines

  • Increasingly Computerized

  • Low Usability

Our solution l.jpg




Our Solution

Separate the interface from the appliance!

Handheld becomes personal universal controller (PUC)

Key Features

  • User interface-independent appliance specification

  • Automatic generation of GUI and speech interfaces

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Automatic Generation of UIs


  • All interfaces consistent for the user

    • With conventions of handheld

      Other applications and UI guidelines

    • Even from multiple manufacturers

      Addresses idiosyncracy problem!

  • Multiple modalities (GUI + Speech UI)

  • Can take into account user preferences

  • Will work on special purpose devices (for disabled)

Overview l.jpg


Controller Devices


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Demonstration #1

Sony Camcorder

PocketPC, Smartphone, Speech, Tablet PC

Architecture l.jpg

- Appliance Adaptors

- Comm. Protocol

- Interface Generators


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XML-based Specification Language

Describes appliance with these features:

  • Functions of Device

    State Variables and Commands

  • Labeling

    Multiple labels are necessary

  • Grouping

    Hierarchical groups

  • Dependency Information

    For enabling and structure

Demonstration 2 l.jpg
Demonstration #2

Windows Media Player

PocketPC, Smartphone

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Demonstration #3

GMC Information System / Climate Control


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Important Work By Others

  • INCITS V2 Standardization Effort

    SIG at CHI 2003

    Toward a Unified Universal Remote Console Standard

    Thursday 9:00-10:30, in Room 122

  • Xweb (now ICE)

    [Olsen Jr., UIST 2000]

  • Stanford iRoom, iCrafter

    [Ponnekanti, Ubicomp 2001]

  • Speakeasy

    [Newman, UIST 2002]

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Future Work

  • Improve quality of generated user interfaces

    • More and better rules

  • Specification and generation of more appliances

    • answering machine, navigation system

  • Consistent interface generation

    • New interfaces modeled on past interfaces

  • Generating interfaces for the “experience”

    • One interface generated for multiple connected appliances

  • General purpose appliance adaptor for HAVi and UPnP protocols

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National Science Foundation


General Motors

Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse

Equipment Grants

Mitsubishi (MERL)


Symbol Technologies



PUC Project Members

Brad A. Myers

Thomas K. Harris

Roni Rosenfeld

Michael Higgins

Joseph Hughes

Kevin Litwack

Rajesh Seenichamy

Mathilde Pignol

Stefanie Shriver

Jeffrey Stylos

Peter Lucas


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Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)

April 8, 2003

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Rise of Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are becoming cheaper and more common

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Two-way X10 Lighting

PocketPC, Smartphone

Demonstration #4?

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X10 Demo #2

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DV Camera #2

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Windows Media Player

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GM Driver Information System

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GM Climate Control System