UIST 2009 - Student Innovation Contest
21st UIST @ Monterey, CA








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UIST 2009 | Student Innovation Contest

Winners of Student Innovation Contest are announced here.

Get your thinking caps on and ideas flowing for the first annual UIST Student Innovation Contest.

The goal of the contest is to develop new interactions on unique hardware. This year, contestants will be supplied with a prototype, pressure-sensitive keyboard designed by Microsoft Hardware. Each key is capable of reporting its press force (8-bit resolution). All ideas are welcome, whether useful or fun.

Contestants will demo their creations at the October 5th demo reception, where UIST attendees will cast their votes. The winner will be announced the following day.


August 15 - Entry deadline (via email, simply to reserve spot in contest - nothing due!)
September 1 - Keyboard mailed.
September 1 through October 4 - Development period.
October 5
- Contest reception, demos and voting.
October 6 - Winners announced.


Three awards are up for grabs: most useful, best implementation, most creative.

Each comes with a $2000 prize, bragging rights, and special consideration for a spot at SIGGRAPH 2010’s Emerging Technology (E-Tech) demos.


UIST attendees will find three voting cards in their welcome packets - one for each of the three awards to be given (most useful, best implementation, and most creative). To vote, one simply writes the name of the desired entry on the corresponding card, folds it in half, and deposits the vote in one of several boxes that will be setup in the hall during the contest reception. Results will be announced the following day.


To reserve a place in the contest and to receive a pressure-sensitive keyboard for development, contestants must submit an entry email to the contest chair no later than August 15th, 2009. This email should contain:

1) Members of the team and their affiliations (min=1, max=4. Students only.)

2) Primary contact name (one person)

  • Email address

  • Phone number

  • Full shipping address (in order to receive the pressure-sensitive keyboard)

Send these details to Chris Harrison: chris.harrison@cs.cmu.edu


 **Please see the full FAQ if you had additional questions**

Teams must be unique in the composition of their members (whether a single person or more). People can, however, be on several teams.

During the contest voting period, each keyboard will be allowed to demo one idea. Teams will not be allowed to demo multiple ideas on a single keyboard (i.e., switch between different ideas). Different demos of the same idea are permitted.

For the time being, teams are limited to receiving a single keyboard. Depending on availability, it may be possible for teams to request an extra keyboard (which would allow teams to enter two ideas into the contest). If this is the case, we will send out an email with additional information.

At least one person on a team must be registered and present at UIST.

The keyboard supports an unlimited number of simultaneous key presses. Information is transmitted over USB using FTDI’s serial interface at 115200 baud (http://ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm). Several transmission modes are present. Full details will be provided when keyboards are sent out. We will also provide sample C#, Java, Python, and Processing code. Teams, however, can use whatever language they wish. Sample code runs under Windows and Mac OSX. Linux should work too.

Teams must bring supporting computers and hardware to run their demos, including the keyboard they were sent. No equipment will be given out at UIST.





If you have questions or comments, please contact the contest chair: chris.harrison@cs.cmu.edu


Q: What if something happens the contest committee did not foresee?
A: We reserve the right to change the rules at any time.

Q: Can I publish a paper on what I come up with?
A: Yes.

Q: Do I own the intellectual property (IP)?
A: Yes.

Q: How long will I have to develop my idea?
A: Teams will receive their keyboards approximately six weeks ahead of the conference. We will release sample code before then. Teams must register by August 15th to participate

Q: How do I enter the contest?
A: Refer to the "How to enter" section above. You need to send us an email by August 15th to reserve a spot in the contest. Nothing is due at that time beyond the entry email.

Q: Does it cost anything to participate in the contest?
A: No. The keyboards are provided free-of-charge. However, at least one team member has to be registered for the conference.

Q: How complicated is the API? Do I need to be proficient in electrical engineering / hardware?
A: The interface is very simple and we provide sample code to get you started. Often it requires just a single line of code to open the port. You can then read data from it much like a file. See examples below:

  Python: myPort = serial.Serial(port='/dev/tty.usbserial-XXX',baudrate=115200,bytesize=8,parity='N',stopbits=1)
  Java & Processing: myPort = new Serial(Serial.list()[0], portName, 115200);

Q: Am I limited to any programming languages?
A: Teams can use whatever language they wish. Obviously it will have to support serial communication. We can only provide very limited support for other languages. We can provide some assistance for the sample code provided. Fortunately, the interface is fairly straightforward.

Q: Does it run on Windows / Mac OSX / Linux / other ?
A: We have gotten the keyboards working under Windows and Mac OSX. There is no reason for it not to work under linux. Other operating systems are possible too - they just need support for serial communication.

Q: Will I be able to demo my idea on my own computer?
A: Yes. In fact, it is mandatory, since we will not provide any equipment at the conference.

Q: How long will the voting period last (i.e. how long do I need to stand at my computer for?).
A: Only during the demo reception on Monday night, October 5th.

Q: Who pays for shipping?
A: We will handle shipping.

Q: How are the keyboards distributed?
A: Keyboards are given out on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Q: What happens if I wish to withdraw from the contest?
A: Teams are welcome to withdraw at any time. Please email the contest committee at least a week before the conference.

Q: Will I have to fill out some paperwork?
A: Yes, there is a Microsoft release form you must sign before you can receive a keyboard.

Q: Who created the pressure-sensitive keyboard we will receive?
A: Paul Dietz in Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group.

Q: I live outside the United States, can I get a keyboard?
A: Yes. If you live somewhere very remote, email us.

Q: I am not a student, can I participate?
A: Unfortunately, the contest is limited to students.

Q: How many people can be on a team?
A: Maximum four. All must be students.

Q: Can I vote for my own project?
A: Yes.

Q: How will you stop people voting multiple times?
A: Student volunteers will be monitoring the voting boxes.

Q: Can other people help me develop this code?
A: It is permissible to get external help for bugs and other issues. People external to the team cannot contribute large pieces of code (or ideas).

Q: Can my advisor help?
A: Ideas can be discussed with advisors, but core ideas should come from the team members.

Q: Do we get to keep the keyboards after we're done?
A: Technically they are on loan.

Q: What if only a few teams enter?
A: We reserve the right to change the rules at any time. If a small number of people were to enter, we are likely to award only a single (potentially larger) prize.

Q: What if too many teams enter?
A: If there are more entries than keyboards, we will send an email to registered contestants to solicit sample ideas. Submitted ideas will be kept confidential. Teams will not be limited to the ideas they submit. The contest committee will conduct a first round of voting based on the submitted sample ideas.

Q: Can I win more than one award?
A: No. The order of the awards is: “most useful”, “best implementation”, and finally “most creative”. Once a team has won one, they are not eligible for the other awards.   

Q: Are we obligated to go to UIST if we receive a keyboard?
A: At least one team member must be registered for the conference and attend. We may ask for proof of registration.

Q: How is the award money split?
A: Each winning team receives $2000. This will be split equally among the team members.


If you have other questions, email the contest chair: