210 King St. East
Toronto, Ontario

ToRCHI meeting - Site Tour and Talk at Autodesk Canada (Alias)

Please join us for an exciting site tour and discussion at Autodesk's
Toronto Office.

WHEN: Wednesday March 21, 2007

TIME: 6:30-8:30PM

WHO: Gordon Kurtenbach, Director of Research at Autodesk, will talk about Unnatural User Interfaces and some of the research and designs produced at Alias and Autodesk in recent years. See Abstract and Bio below, or at http://www.torchi.org/index.php

Please RSVP to [email protected] by Friday March 16 if you are interested in attending so that we can reserve enough seats in the Viz Studio and order refreshments.


  • Free for ToRCHI members. (Many past ToRCHI members have been given a complementary 1-year membership)
  • Non-members: General $20, Students $10, ACM members $15. Cost includes a 1-year ToRCHI membership.

  • Address: Autodesk Toronto Office, 210 King St. East (north side, west of Sherbourne)
  • Google map: http://tinyurl.com/yvuguc
  • Via TTC: From King Station, walk (~ 10 min) or take streetcar eastward to Sherbourne.
  • Parking: Pay parking underground near Tim Hortons at Sherbourne & Richmond OR street parking outside on Adelaide just east of Sherbourne.


Unnatural User Interfaces

In the past forty years computers have evolved from having literally no
user interface to the now pervasive graphical user interface that allows
a vast number of non-technical people to utilize computers. A corner stone of this accomplishment is the notion that creating computer interfaces that are “natural and intuitive” can attain ease of use.

In this talk I argue that the concepts of "natural and intuitive" are, at best, very general and close to meaningless concepts, and there is an array of other more powerful concepts such as skill transfer, learning, and feedback upon which the success of a user interface depends. I present several examples of innovative user interface techniques invented by the research group at Autodesk that are not "natural and intuitive". However, these techniques are easy and effective to use, and I will offer an explanation as to why. I shall argue that this type of thinking is an essential element needed to continue to advance the state of pen based user interfaces and ultimately the field of user interface research.


Gordon Kurtenbach is a director of research at Autodesk where he oversees a group whose focus is research on 3D interactive graphics in the areas of input technologies, manipulation, modeling, animation and rendering. Prior to Alias, Gordon was a researcher at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center working on pen based user interfaces for wall-sized display systems. Before Xerox, Gordon was a member of Apple Computer's Advanced Technology Group researching gesture-based input techniques for graphical user interfaces.

Gordon's Ph.D. work on "marking menus" is a patented feature used Autodesk products. Recently, he served as head UI designer for Alias’s award winning Sketchbook application for the tablet PC. His research interests in the field human-computer interaction include input devices, bi-manual input, high degree of freedom input, menuing systems, UI for 3d graphics, human motor control and perception. Gordon has many research publications and twenty-one granted patents.


Autodesk is a world leading supplier of advanced 2D and 3D design, digital content creation and project collaboration software tools for
manufacturing, media and entertainment industries. Autodesk acquired Alias in January 2006.

Official Website: http://torchi.org/index.php

Added by gabriel on March 9, 2007



I'l be on a plane for the IA Summit.
This looks awesome


I'll be there as well as some of the members from the Interactive Media Lab from U of T