UbiComp 2013 Social Media ChairFor our weekly “Meet the Team” update I interviewed Gábor Sörös (yes, that’s a lot of Umlauts in a single name) 🙂 Gábor hails from Hungary – he studied electrical engineering in Budapest, Karlsruhe, and Vienna. He joined Friedemann Mattern’s group at ETH Zurich two and a half years ago.

Gabor, could you briefly tell us what your responsibilities for UbiComp 2013 are?

Gábor SörösI am responsible for the badges as well as the conference and workshop booklets. This includes sourcing the badge holder, getting offers from printers, designing the various templates, and of course preparing the files for the printer.

What needs to be done for the badges? Are these not simply name and affiliation?

Gábor SörösWe decided early on to have the badges be the main source of identification at the conference, for example to get access to the welcome reception or the social event. So we need to make sure that they do not simply show the participants’ names, but that they also include all relevant information regarding the various registration types that we offer. For example, people can register for a 2-day pass, so the badge must show exactly what days a person registered for and if they added a social event ticket to this. This way, the student volunteers at the entrances can quickly glance at one’s badge in order to check this. Anyway, so we went over a lot of iterations to combine these different elements on the badge, and of course to also reflect the overall conference theme on there.

Wow, I did not think there would be so much work involved for just the conference badge! What about the booklets then?

Gábor SörösWhile we also offer mobile apps with the program, the printed booklet remains one of the main sources of orientation for participants at the conference, especially with this year’s program: we have over 45 technical sessions in the program, mostly running in four parallel sessions. We decided to include “mini-abstracts” for each paper presentation in the booklet, in order to help people decide. We also list the titles for all posters and demos. This easily amounts to over 80 pages! For the workshops we have a separate booklet, as we similarly need to provide a lot of information regarding our 19 workshops and the Doctoral School. I also prepared the campus orientation maps that are included in the booklets and on the website. Of course, I really wanted to make this not only very readable, but also a pleasure to look at – for some participants it might end up as a nice memento on their book shelf after the conference!

What where the biggest challenges so far?

Gábor SörösWell, the conference program may of course change a few times before reaching the final version, so it is very important that I always keep the booklet contents up to date. Also, with some 80+ pages, the booklet became pretty thick at the end and we could not find standard badge holders with big enough pockets. At the end I managed to find a supplier in the UK that was able to source us with badge holders to our exact specifications. It also took a long time to arrive at the final design, which I then had to put into a desktop publishing program. I had used these in the past, but it was still a steep learning curve for such a complex project. Last but not least: generating 500+ badges from the sometimes incomplete or confusing data we get from the registration system is also no trivial task – you would be surprised at how many people like CAPSLOCK on their keyboard (laughs).

A lot of work indeed. What would you usually do if UbiComp wouldn’t keep you busy?

Gábor SörösMy research interests are in mobile visual computing, I am currently working on the next generation of mobile barcode scanning. I want to extend on today’s solutions by scanning defocused and motion-blurred codes as well. Together with Simon Mayer and Marian George I also have a poster on “Device Recognition for Intuitive Interaction with the Web of Things” at UbiComp – make sure to visit us at the Poster Session on Thursday!

Will do my best! Thanks for your time, and good luck!