Alibaba and Tsinghua University launch joint lab on human-computer interaction research

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Alibaba and Tsinghua University launch joint lab on human-computer interaction research
Alibaba Group partners with Tsinghua University to establish a joint-research lab that focuses on the natural experience for next-generation Natural Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

Following the creation of its innovative global research programme, 'Alibaba DAMO Academy​' in October 2017, Alibaba has set up its first HCI-focused joint-research lab.

Frontier technologies

This programme will concentrate on HCI-key areas including fundamental and disruptive research. With its mission to make it easy to do business anywhere, Alibaba will team up with Tsinghua University to collaborate on frontier technologies.

These technologies include multi-source emotion data analysis, affective computing, tangible interaction, and multimodal perception and interaction, to push the study of HCI advancement.

A diversity of expertise in cognitive science, linguistics, physiology and aesthetics will take place to focus on different research projects.

Professor Yingqing Xu, Director of The Future Lab at Tsinghua University and Paul Fu, Senior Director of User Experience for Alibaba Group will spearhead the lab's operations and form the research directions.

Leading a breakthrough

"Graphic interfaces and the touchscreen have demonstrated how new ways of interaction could be key to the information revolution,” ​said Jeff Zhang, Chief Technology Officer, Alibaba Group.

Commenting on the prevalence of key technological developments, Zhang highlighted: “As artificial intelligence and data technologies advance, humans' senses and emotions could become the new modes of interaction with machines."

"By helping machines better understand and communicate with humans, HCI is expected to revolutionize various industries and have a profound impact on how we work and live,”​ shared Professor Bin Yang, Vice President of Tsinghua University.

The partnership

"Tsinghua University is a global research institute with the leading edge in a wide array of fields including computer science, engineering, liberal arts and design, while Alibaba has rich experience in product development and design in the HCI field. We are confident that the joint lab and a group of global talents will yield fruitful research results in the near future,"​ Yang stated.

The technology innovation performed at the lab has the potential to impact numerous commercial environments, namely New Retail, autonomous driving and smart living.

Where next?

These frontier technologies are expected to impact these scenarios further. Its direct contribution is anticipated to take place once we know more about human emotions or affective state.

According to the research duo, “multi-module interaction that involves two or more of the five senses - visual, auditory, speech, touch and smell - will become a common mode of interaction with machines”.

By using digital means, consumers’ preferences relating to a specific product can be monitored and measured. This enables improved product designs and feedback-gathering based on the consumers’ affective state.

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