Jacob O. Wobbrock

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Jacob O. Wobbrock
Jake on Coursera.jpg
Born (1976-01-15) January 15, 1976 (age 42)
Citizenship United States
Alma materStanford University (B.S. with Honors, M.S.), Carnegie Mellon University (Ph.D.)
AwardsACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award,[1] National Science Foundation CAREER Award, NISH National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation and Design[2]
Scientific career
FieldsHuman-computer interaction
InstitutionsUniversity of Washington
Doctoral advisorBrad A. Myers

Jacob O. Wobbrock is a Professor of Human-computer interaction in the Information School and, by courtesy, in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. Prof. Wobbrock directs the Mobile & Accessible Design Lab and is a founding member of the DUB Group and the Master of Human-Computer Interaction & Design program.

He has co-authored over 140 peer-reviewed papers[3] and received 22 paper awards, including 7 best papers and 8 honorable mentions from ACM's CHI conference. For his work on Ability-Based Design, he received the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award.[4] He is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award and six other National Science Foundation grants.[5][6] He is on the editorial board of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction.[7] His advisees have been hired at Harvard, Cornell, Colorado, Washington, Brown, Simon Fraser, and elsewhere.[8]

Prof. Wobbrock is also an entrepreneur. He was the venture-backed co-founder and CEO of AnswerDash for nearly three years.


Prof. Wobbrock grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon and graduated with academic honors from Lake Oswego High School. He went on to attend Stanford University, where he received his B.S. with Honors in Symbolic Systems (1998) and his M.S. in Computer Science (2000). In both degrees, he had a formal specialization in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). After working in Silicon Valley startups for a few years, Wobbrock attended the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, from which he earned his Ph.D. (2006). Upon graduation, he was honored with CMU's School of Computer Science Distinguished Dissertation Award, the only recipient of this award from the HCI Institute as of 2017.[9]


Wobbrock's research seeks to scientifically understand people's interactions with computers and information, and to improve those interactions through design and engineering, especially for people with disabilities. His specific research topics include input & interaction techniques, human performance measurement & modeling, HCI research & design methods, mobile computing, and accessible computing.

Some of Wobbrock’s notable research projects are the $-family gesture recognizers,[10] the end-user elicitation design method,[11] the Slide Rule design for accessible touchscreen gestures[12] (which Wobbrock claims influenced Apple’s design of its VoiceOver accessibility software [13]), ARTool[14] for nonparametric factorial statistical analyses, and the EdgeWrite text entry system.[15] Wobbrock is known for his formulation of Ability-Based Design,[16] which is a design approach that focuses on technology accommodating people’s existing abilities, rather than people having to conform to the ability demands of technology.


Prof. Wobbrock teaches broadly across technical and semi-technical Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) subjects, including courses on research methods, user experience, interactive technology design, and input and interaction techniques. In February 2016, Prof. Wobbrock launched a course called Designing, Running, and Analyzing Experiments [17] on the Coursera platform. This massive open online course (MOOC) focuses on experiment design and data analysis for formal Human-Computer Interaction studies.


Prof. Wobbrock was the venture-backed co-founder and CEO of AnswerDash, a SaaS startup that provides intelligent in-context help to websites and mobile apps. AnswerDash was co-founded with fellow professor Andrew J. Ko and then-Ph.D. student Parmit Chilana, now a professor at Simon Fraser University. After running AnswerDash for nearly three years, Wobbrock returned to his full-time academic post at the University of Washington. His successor as CEO of AnswerDash was Bill Colleran, formerly the 13-year CEO of Seattle company Impinj.

Between graduating from Stanford University and starting his Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University in 2001, Wobbrock worked at Silicon Valley startups DoDots and Google.

Personal life[edit]

Prof. Wobbrock lives in Seattle, Washington and is married to Alison Wobbrock (née Pawluskiewicz), a daughter of Polish emigrants from Nowy Targ, Poland and the niece of celebrated Polish composer Jan Kanty Pawluskiewicz.


  1. ^ "ACM Social Impact Award".
  2. ^ "National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation" (PDF).
  3. ^ "Most prolific authors in computer science". DBLP.
  4. ^ ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award. URL retrieved 2 January 2018.
  5. ^ NSF CAREER Award 2010. URL retrieved 2 January 2018.
  6. ^ Jacob Wobbrock awarded $500K NSF grant to design more accessible mobile devices. URL retrieved 2 January 2018.
  7. ^ TOCHI Editorial board. URL retrieved 2 January 2018.
  8. ^ MAD Lab: People
  9. ^ SCS Student Awards
  10. ^ $1 Unistroke Recognizer. URL retrieved 2 January 2018.
  11. ^ User-defined Gestures for Surface Computing.
  12. ^ Slide Rule. URL retrieved 2 January 2018.
  13. ^ Lazar, J., Goldstein, D. and Taylor, A. (2015). Ensuring digital accessibility through process and policy. Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann, pp. 35-36
  14. ^ Align-and-rank data for a nonparametric ANOVA. URL retrieved 2 January 2018.
  15. ^ EdgeWrite Text Entry
  16. ^ Ability-based design
  17. ^ Coursera course: Designing, Running, and Analyzing Experiments

External links[edit]