Keynote (Tuesday)
20th UIST @ Newport, RI

Jeremy Wolfe

Biographical Sketch

Jeremy Wolfe is Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and the head of the Visual Attention Lab at the Harvard Medical School & Brigham and Women's Hospital. In addition, he is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and an Adjunct Associate Professor in Cognitive and Neural Systems at Boston University.

Jeremy Wolfe became interested in visual perception during the course of a summer job at Bell Labs in New Jersey after his senior year in high school. He graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in 1977 with a degree in Psychology and went on to obtain his PhD in 1981 from MIT, studying with Richard Held. His PhD thesis was entitled "On Binocular Single Vision". Wolfe remained at MIT as a lecture, assistant professor, and associate professor until 1991. During that period, he published papers on binocular rivalry, visual aftereffects, and accommodation. In the late 1980s, the focus of the lab shifted to visual attention. Since that time, he has published numerous articles on visual search and visual attention. In 1991, Wolfe moved to Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School where he is Professor of Ophthalmology. The lab is funded by the US National Institutes of Health, Air Force, and Department of Homeland Security. Wolfe teaches several Psychology courses at MIT & Harvard.

Jeremy Wolfe is Past-President of the Eastern Psychological Association. He won the Baker Memorial Prize for teaching at MIT in 1989. He is a fellow of the American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Assocation (Div. 3 & 6), the American Psychological Society, and a member of the Society for Experimental Psychologists. He lives in Newton, Mass. with his wife, Julie Sandell (a Professor of Neuroanatomy at Boston U. School of Medicine), three sons (Benjamin - 21, Philip - 18, and Simon - 11), two cats, two snakes, and occasional mice.

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Keynote (Tuesday), October 9, 2007,   3:30 - 4:30 pm
Capturing the user’s attention:
Insights from the study of human vision

Jeremy Wolfe
Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School

An effective user interface is a cooperative interaction between humans and their technology. For that interaction to work, it needs to recognize the limitations and exploit the strengths of both parties. In this talk, I will concentrate on the human side of the equation. What do we know about human visual perceptual abilities that might have an impact on the design of user interfaces? The world presents us with more information than we can process. Just try to read this abstract and the next piece of prose at the same time. We cope with this problem by using attentional mechanisms to select a subset of the input for further processing. An interface might be designed to ‘capture’ attention, in order to induce a human to interact with it. Once the human is using an interface, that interface should ‘guide’ the user’s attention in an intelligent manner. In recent decades, many of the rules of attentional capture and guidance have been worked out in the laboratory. I will illustrate some of the basic principles. For example: Do some colors grab attention better than others? Are faces special? When and why do people fail to “see” things that are right in front of their eyes.


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