• Face2Emoji

    Face2Emoji, emoji, crowdsourcing, emotion recognition, facial expression, input, keyboard, text entry



Using users' emotional facial expressions to filter emojis on smartphone keyboards. IN PROGRESS

  • Crisis News Sympathy

    Twitter, media bias, crisis informatics, cross-cultural, social media, sentiment analysis, crowdsourcing

Crisis News Sympathy


Measuring Crisis News Sympathy on Twitter. IN PROGRESS

  • Wayfinding Strategies

    HCI4D, ICT4D, Lebanon, navigation, wayfinding, mapping services, giving directions, addressing, strategies

HCI4D Wayfinding Strategies


While HCI for development (HCI4D) research has typically focused on technological practices of poor and low-literate communities, little research has addressed how technology literate individuals living in a poor infrastructure environment use technology. Our work fills this gap by focusing on Lebanon, a country with longstanding political instability, and the wayfinding issues there stemming from missing street signs and names, a poor road infrastructure, and a non-standardized addressing system. We examine the relationship between technology literate individuals' navigation and direction giving strategies and their usage of current digital navigation aids. Drawing on an interview study (N=12) and a web survey (N=85), our findings show that while these individuals rely on mapping services and WhatsApp's share location feature to aid wayfinding, many technical and cultural problems persist that are currently resolved through social querying.

  • El Ali, A., Bachour, K., Heut, Y., Heuten, H. & Boll, S. (2016). Technology Literacy in Poor Infrastructure Environments: Characterizing Wayfinding Strategies in Lebanon. To be published in Proc. MobileHCI '16. Florence, Italy.

  • VapeTracker

    E-cigarettes, vaping, tracking, sensors, behavior change technology



Despite current controversy over e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, we present early work based on a web survey (N=249) that shows that some e-cigarette users (46.2%) want to quit altogether, and that behavioral feedback that can be tracked can fulfill that purpose. Based on our survey findings, we designed VapeTracker, an early prototype that can attach to any e-cigarette device to track vaping activity. Currently, we are exploring how to improve our VapeTracker prototype using ambient feedback mechanisms, and how to account for behavior change models to support quitting e-cigarettes.

  • El Ali, A., Matviienko, A., Feld, Y., Heuten, W. & Boll, S. (2016). VapeTracker: Tracking Vapor Consumption to Help E-cigarette Users Quit. To be published in Proc. CHI '16 EA. San Jose, CA, USA. pdf

  • MagiThings

    Security, usability, music composition, gaming, 3D gestures, magnets



As part of an internship at Telekom Innovation Labs (T-Labs) in Berlin, Germany, I designed and executed (under supervision of Dr. Hamed Ketabdar) 3 controlled user studies (under the MagiThings project) using the Around Device Interaction (ADI) paradigm to investigate a) the usability and security of magnet-based air signature authentication methods for usable and secure smartphone access b) playful music composition and gaming.

  • El Ali, A. & Ketabdar, H. (2015). Investigating Handedness in Air Signatures for Magnetic 3D Gestural User Authentication. In Proc. MobileHCI '15 Adjunct. Copenhagen, Denmark. pdf doi
  • El Ali, A. & Ketabdar, H. (2013). Magnet-based Around Device Interaction for Playful Music Composition and Gaming. To be published in International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction (IJMHCI). Preprint available: pdf doi

  • CountMeIn

    Urban space, gaming, NFC, waiting time, touch interaction, design, development, Android



In this work, our focus was on improving the waiting time experience in public places (e.g., waiting for the train to come) by increasing collaboration and play amongst friends and strangers. We tested whether an NFC-enabled mobile pervasive game (in allowing physical interaction with a NFC tag display) reaps more social benefits than a touchscreen version.

  • Wolbert, M., El Ali, A. & Nack, F. (2014). CountMeIn: Evaluating Social Presence in a Collaborative Pervasive Mobile Game Using NFC and Touchscreen Interaction. In Proc. ACE '14. Madeira, Portugal. pdf doi
  • Wolbert, M. & El Ali, A. (2013). Evaluating NFC and Touchscreen Interactions in Collaborative Mobile Pervasive Games. In Proc. MobileHCI '13. Munich, Germany. pdf doi

  • Photographer Paths

    Social media mining, Flickr, scenic routes, maps, Amsterdam

Photographer Paths


I conceptualized, designed, evaluated and supervised the technical development of a route recommendation system that makes use of large amounts of geotagged image data (from Flickr) to compute sequence-based non-efficiency driven routes in the city of Amsterdam. The central premise is that pedestrians do not always want to get from point A to point B as quick as possible, but rather would like to explore hidden, more 'local' routes.

  • El Ali, A., van Sas, S. & Nack, F. (2013). Photographer Paths: Sequence Alignment of Geotagged Photos for Exploration-based Route Planning. In proceedings of the 16th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW '13), 2013, San Antonio, Texas. pdf doi

  • 3D Gestures and Errors

    Errors, usability, user Experience, 3D gestures, lab study, gesture recognition

3D Gestures and Errors


As part of an internship at Nokia Research Center Tampere, I designed and executed (in collaboration with Nokia Research Center Espoo) a controlled study that investigated the effects of error on the usability and UX of device-based gesture interaction.

  • El Ali, A., Kildal, J. & Lantz, V. (2012). Fishing or a Z?: Investigating the Effects of Error on Mimetic and Alphabet Device-based Gesture Interaction. In Proceedings of the 14th international conference on Multimodal Interaction (ICMI '12), 2012, Santa Monica, California. [Best student paper award] pdf doi

  • Graffiquity

    Location-based, multimedia messaging, urban space, user behavior, diary study, longitudinal



As part of work under the MOCATOUR (Mobile Cultural Access for Tourists) project (part of Amsterdam Living Lab), I designed and executed a user study to investigate what factors are important when people create location-aware multimedia messages. Using the Graffiquity prototype as a probe, I ran a 2-week study using a paper-diary method to study this messaging behavior. This involved some Android interface development for the Graffiquity prototype, as well as designing low-fidelity diaries to gather longitudinal qualitative user data.

  • El Ali, A. , Nack, F. & Hardman, L. (2011). Good Times?! 3 Problems and Design Considerations for Playful HCI. In International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction (IJMHCI), 3, 3, p.50-65. pdf doi
  • El Ali, A., Nack, F. & Hardman, L. (2010). Understanding contextual factors in location-aware multimedia messaging. In Proceedings of the 12th international conference on Multimodal Interfaces (ICMI-MLMI '10), 2010, Beijing, China. pdf doi