Tag Archives: vertanen

Research Excellence Fund (REF) Award Announced

Keith VirtanenThe Vice President for Research Office announced the 2018 Research Excellence Fund (REF) awards and thanked the volunteer review committees, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process.

Keith has received a Research Excellence Fund (REF) seed grant from Michigan Tech for his project entitled “Automatic Speech Recognition using Deep Neural Networks”. This one-year project has a budget of $45,421. This project will create a state-of-the-art speech recognition engine based on deep neural networks. The recognizer will be used to investigate speech-based interactive systems for instrumented physical environments (e.g. cars) and person-centric devices (e.g. augmented reality smartglasses). The recognizer will also be used to investigate the input of Java source code by voice.

Congratulations Keith!




Keith Vertanen Receives NSF CAREER Award

Keith VirtanenKeith Vertanen(HCC), has been award a 2018 NSF CAREER Award for his project entitled, “Technology Assisted Conversations”. This 5-year award has a total budget of $538,799.

In this project, Keith will create new real-time communication solutions for people who face speaking challenges, including those with physical or cognitive disabilities.The primary goal of this project is to develop technology that improves upon the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices currently available to help people speak faster and more fluidly.

Keith and his team will expand resources for research into conversational interactive systems, and will create a probabilistic text entry toolkit, AAC user interfaces, and an augmented reality conversation assistant.


Keith Vertanen Receives Exceptional Instructor Evaluation Score

image124044-persCongratulations to Keith Vertanen for having been identified as one of only 71 instructors who received an exceptional “Average of 7 Dimensions” student evaluation score during Spring semester 2017. Keith’s score is 4.53 with an enrollment of 105. Keith received the same recognition in Spring 2016 with a score of 4.49 with an enrollment of 85.

Congratulations Keith!  Please keep up the good work!

Advancements in Eyes-free Text Entry

For Keith Vertanen, the satisfaction of helping people with visual impairments is a byproduct of the challenge he seeks.

Vertanen’s research will offer more texting options not only to the blind community, but to the situationally impaired, too.

“My interest stemmed from sighted text entry research. The decoder (a touchscreen keyboard recognizer) is so accurate—we craved a bigger undertaking,” Vertanen explains. So he dug into literature and consulted with users who are blind to determine the need for better eyes-free text-entry options.

Existing accessibility solutions are slow. “There is a delay because users have to search for the target, key, or graphic and wait for audio feedback,” Vertanen says. By sliding a finger around on the touchscreen, the system announces via text-to-speech what their finger is over. When they find the element they want (it could be a key on a touchscreen keyboard), they double tap with their searching finger or they “split tap” by tapping with a second finger. The interaction technique was developed out of research at the University of Washington and is now a standard accessibility feature on iPhone and Android phones.

With Vertanen’s prototype, users with visual impairments imagine the size, position, and orientation of the Qwerty keyboard. They are asked to tap out letters, and eventually sentences. So far, users accurately tap their intended text on the imaginary display about 50 percent of the time.


There’s more work to be done. From this noisy data, Vertanen asks two questions: Can we develop new and improved algorithms to more accurately recognize the user’s intended text? And can we find ways users can provide the recognizer with a better signal while still allowing fast entry?

Vertanen’s research will offer more texting options not only to the blind community, but to the situationally impaired, too: “Those times when you cannot attend to your phone, like when you’re walking. Or perhaps we can treat your airline tray table as a touch-typing surface—but without a visual display.”

His research will also impact the devices of the future which may be designed without a text display.

“These are hard problems to solve. The other challenge is how to make error-correction efficient and pleasant. This is especially true if people are entering difficult text such as proper names or acronyms. A complementary approach is,  how do you design text-entry interfaces that allow users to be more explicit (albeit slower) about parts of their text they anticipate will be difficult to recognize,” Vertanen asks.

Keith, Nilufer, Philart and Scott Receive Exceptional Instructor Evaluation Score

4_facultyProfessors Keith Vertanen, Nilufer Onder, Scott Kuhl, Philart Jeon, have been identified as four of only 85 instructors who received an exceptional “Average of 7 Dimensions” student evaluation score during Spring semester 2016.

Their scores are in the top 10% of similarly sized sections across all courses/sections on campus. These great achievements reflect the tremendous effort and commitment Keith, Nilufer, Philart, and Scott have put on their teaching.


Keith Vertanen receives Google Faculty Research Award!

Keith Vertanen
Keith Vertanen

Congratulations Keith on receiving a Google Faculty Research Award for $47,219. The project is titled, “Less is More:  Investigating Abbreviated Text Input via a Game”.  The project will use an Android game to answer four questions:  1) What sorts of abbreviations do users think they should use? 2) How do users change their abbreviations in response to recognition accuracy? 3) Can we train users to abbreviate intelligently to help the decoder? 4) Can we improve decoder accuracy on abbreviated input?

Keith joined the department last August, and has submitted three research proposals.

Congratulations Keith!  Keep the nice work up!


New Assistant Professor Keith Vertanen

Keith Vertanen
Keith Vertanen

Keith Vertanen joins the Department of Computer Science as an assistant professor. Prior to Michigan Tech, Vertanen was at Montana Tech, where he received the 2014 Distinguished Researcher Award. Vertanen received his PhD and Master’s of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge and a Masters in Computer Science from Oregon State University.

He has industry experience with Wildfire Communications and etrive, Inc. He specializes in designing intelligent interactive systems that leverage uncertain input technologies.

Read more at Tech Today.

New Assistant Professor Keith Vertanen

Keith Vertanen
Keith Vertanen

Dr. Keith Vertanen specializes in designing intelligent interactive systems that leverage uncertain input technologies. A particular focus of his research is on systems that enhance the capabilities of users with permanent or situationally-induced disabilities. Dr. Vertanen’s broader interests include human-computer interaction (HCI), speech and language processing, mobile interfaces, and crowdsourcing. Dr. Vertanen received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2009. Dr. Vertanen serves as associate editor for the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, vice-president for Speech and Language Processing for Assistive Technologies (SIG-SLPAT), and was an associate chair for MobileHCI 2014 and IUI 2015.