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Technology Innovation Hub, IIT Mandi launches Centre for Human-Computer Interaction (CHCi

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Technology Innovation Hub (TIH) set up by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi under India’s National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS) and focused on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), has launched the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction (CHCi). By leveraging existing physical assets and engineering research talent, the Centre aims to accelerate translational research and extend its reach to industry sectors.

With the establishment of CHCi, the ecosystem would be created to promote excellence in translational research resulting in products and platforms which could yield significant breakthroughs to address some of the nation’s priorities. The Centre’s initiatives will encompass a wide range of areas within the HCi landscape, including but not limited to:

  • Assistive Technologies
  • Experience Technologies
  • Device-Led Technologies
  • Brain-Computer Interaction
  • Generative Design

These core areas will be supported by state-of-the-art facilities spanning over 2200 square feet, fostering innovation and nurturing talent in the field of HCI.

Speaking at the inaugural event on May 8, Prof. Laxmidhar Behera, Director, IIT Mandi, said, “The inauguration of CHCi fills me with delight, and I have full confidence in the capabilities of our leadership. With a dedicated focus on translational research, CHCi is poised to advance the goals of the IIT Mandi Technology Innovation Hub(TIH) and the research centre of the TIH. I am grateful to the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, for their invaluable support. As we embark on this journey, we eagerly anticipate engaging in a diverse array of projects, including innovative endeavours such as digital touch, digital smell, and digital taste.”

Prof. M. Manivannan, Professor of Biomedical Engineering from the Department of Applied Mechanics at IIT Madras was the chief guest. Among other dignitaries were Dr. Ekta Kapoor, Mission Director of NMICPS at the Department of Science and Technology; Mr. Sowmya Narayan, Director of Architecture & Delivery at Microsoft; Dr. Balamuralidhar P, Distinguished Chief Scientist (Retired) from TCS Research; Prof. Uttama Lahiri, Professor of Electrical Engineering from IIT Gandhinagar, Dr. Shubhajit Roy Chowdhury, Chairperson of CHCi.  Mr. Somjit Amrit, CEO of IIT Mandi iHub and Prof. Venkata Krishnan, Project Director, IIT Mandi iHub led the inaugural event as the host alongside other faculty and staff members.

During his special address, Chief Guest Prof. M Manivannan, IIT Madras, said, “The advancement of computer interfaces heralds the dawn of the next technological era, underscoring the need for us to maintain our forefront position in innovation. As technology continues to evolve rapidly, it is crucial to establish a centre capable of guiding India towards leadership in future technologies. HCI is no longer an evolutionary technology, it will revolutionise the way users deal with technology. India possesses significant potential to make substantial contributions to the advancement of technology, employing an integrated approach across diverse engineering disciplines and embracing a multi-model methodology. I am confident that CHCi and IIT Mandi and the TIH will emerge as a catalyst for collaboration, propelling India towards the forefront of technological innovation in Human-Computer Interaction.”

 In her virtual address Dr. Ekta Kapoor, Mission Director, NMICPS, Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, said, As we inaugurate the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction (CHCi), we embark on a journey aimed at achieving four pivotal targets: Technology Development, Skill Enhancement, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and International Collaboration. The state-of-the-art facilities at CHCi will be the bedrock of progress in these core areas. Furthermore, the Centre’s plans for rolling out certification and degree programs in HCI, I am confident that the collaboration between IIT Mandi and CHCi will yield fruitful outcomes, paving the way for innovation and advancement in the days to come.”

 While emphasising on the topic, “Technology in Harmony with Human Needs”, Mr. Somjit Amrit, CEO, IIT Mandi iHub and HCI Foundation, said, “As we embark on a nascent yet eventful journey, we are glad that we remain determined and committed to innovation to address real-world problems .The belief and support of the Department of Science and Technology and the host institute , IIT Mandi have helped us all along in this journey.”

Mr. Amrit further added, “Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is multidisciplinary and now multi-modal. We cover HCI holistically to include functional sectors like Assistive Technology, Experience Technology, Device-Led Technology, and Generative Artificial Intelligence. Our approach revolves around translational research, where we keenly explore   industry challenges, understand end-user needs, ideate, build prototypes, and translate innovations into tangible solutions.  The trick is in meticulous identification and exploration of business use case through industry collaboration. This would help us unlock the full potential of HCI, shaping a future where technology serves humanity with unparalleled efficacy.”

The event also hosted multiple keynote addresses and talks by esteemed guests, encompassing the relevance of HCI in the industry to the research ecosystem. These included:

  • Mr. Sowmya Narayan, Director of Architecture & Delivery at Microsoft, delivered the keynote address on the topic, “The Fourth Wave: How Distributed Computing is Shaping the Future,” and emphasized on the pivotal role of cloud computing and artificial intelligence in driving this transformation, citing case studies that showcase their integration in various industries. Furthermore, he discussed the burgeoning potential of Internet of Things and Augmented Reality-Virtual Reality (AR-VR) technologies, foreseeing their integration into everyday life and business operations in the near future.
  • Dr. Balamuralidhar P, Distinguished Chief Scientist (Retired) from TCS Research, delivered a keynote address on the theme, “The Importance of Research within the Industry Ecosystem.” He emphasized the significance of research tailored to industry needs and its broader ecosystem, shedding light on why industry should prioritize investment in research. Dr. Balamuralidhar elaborated on the Triple Helix model and its evolutions helping government, industry, and academia synergize to collaborate effectively, with research playing a pivotal role in facilitating this collaboration.

Prof. Uttama Lahiri,Professor of Electrical Engineering from IIT Gandhinagar emphasized the crucial role of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) in healthcare during her talk on “Witnessing the Power of HCI in Diagnostics, Rehabilitation, and Affective Computing.” She highlighted how HCI, coupled with wearables, can transform diagnostics and rehabilitation for post-stroke patients and individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, she discussed the potential of computer-based cognitive test batteries in aiding diagnosis of cognitive impairment and intervention strategies for children with autism

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