Jacob O. Wobbrock

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Jacob O. Wobbrock
Jake on Coursera.jpg
Born (1976-01-15) January 15, 1976 (age 45)
Citizenship United States
Alma materStanford University (B.S. with Honors, M.S.), Carnegie Mellon University (Ph.D.)
AwardsACM CHI Academy 2019[1]

ACM SIGACCESS ASSETS Paper Impact Award 2019[2]

AMiner 2018 Most Influential Scholar Award in HCI,[3] Runner-Up in 2020[4]

ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award 2017[5]

National Science Foundation CAREER Award[6]

NISH National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation and Design[7]
Scientific career
FieldsHuman-Computer Interaction
InstitutionsUniversity of Washington
Doctoral advisorBrad A. Myers

Prof. 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. He directs the ACE Lab, codirects the CREATE research center, and is a founding member of the DUB Group and the MHCI+D degree program.

He has coauthored around 180 peer-reviewed papers[8] and received 25 paper awards, including seven best papers and eight honorable mentions from ACM's CHI conference. He was inducted into the CHI Academy at CHI 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. For his work on accessible computing, he received the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award and the 2019 SIGACCESS ASSETS Paper Impact Award. He is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award and seven other National Science Foundation grants.[9][10] In 2018, he was ranked #1 of 100 on The AMiner Most Influential Scholar List for HCI, and was runner-up in 2020. (AMiner is an automatic citation ranking system from Tsinghua University in China.) He is on the editorial board of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. His advisees have gone on to positions at institutions including Harvard, Cornell, Colorado, Washington, Brown, and Simon Fraser.

As an entrepreneur, Prof. Wobbrock was the venture-backed cofounder and CEO of AnswerDash from 2012–2015. It was acquired by CloudEngage in June 2020.[11]


Wobbrock grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon and graduated with academic honors from Lake Oswego High School. He attended 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, he attended the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned his Ph.D. (2006). At graduation, he was honored with CMU's School of Computer Science Distinguished Dissertation Award, the HCI Institute's only recipient of the award as of 2019.[12]


Wobbrock's research seeks to scientifically understand people's experiences of computers and information, and to improve those experiences by inventing new interactive technologies, especially for people with disabilities. His research topics include input and interaction techniques, human performance measurement and modeling, HCI research and design methods, mobile computing, and accessible computing.

Some of his notable research projects are the $-family gesture recognizers,[13] the end-user elicitation design method,[14] the Slide Rule design for accessible touchscreen gestures[15] (which some have noted might have influenced Apple’s VoiceOver accessibility software design[16]), ARTool[17] for nonparametric factorial statistical analyses, the Pointing Magnifier 2 assistive pointing and visual aid,[18][19] and the versatile EdgeWrite text-entry system.[20] Wobbrock is also known for his formulation of Ability-Based Design,[21] which focuses on accommodating people’s abilities rather than requiring them to conform to ability assumptions.


Wobbrock teaches technical and design-oriented Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) subjects, and courses on quantitative research methods and research design. He has developed courses on experience design, interactive technology design, and input and interaction techniques. In February 2016, he launched Designing, Running, and Analyzing Experiments on the Coursera platform. This massive open online course (MOOC) focuses on experiment design and data analysis in the R programming language for formal Human-Computer Interaction studies.


Wobbrock was the venture-backed cofounder and CEO of AnswerDash, a SaaS startup that provides intelligent in-context help to websites and mobile apps. His cofounders were fellow professor Amy J. Ko, and then-Ph.D. student Parmit Chilana, now a professor at Simon Fraser University. After running AnswerDash from 2012–2015, Wobbrock returned to his full-time academic position at the University of Washington. AnswerDash was acquired by CloudEngage in June 2020.[22]

Between graduating from Stanford University and starting his Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University in 2001, Wobbrock worked at Silicon Valley startups DoDots[23] and Google. While in college, he held multiple technical internships at Intel.

Personal life[edit]

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 SIGCHI Awards".
  2. ^ "ACM SIGACCESS ASSETS Paper Impact Award".
  3. ^ "AMiner 2018 Most Influential Scholar Award in HCI".
  4. ^ "AMiner 2020 Most Influential Scholar Award in HCI".
  5. ^ "ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award".
  6. ^ "NSF CAREER Award".
  7. ^ "National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation & Design" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Most prolific authors in computer science". DBLP.
  9. ^ NSF CAREER Award.
  10. ^ Jacob Wobbrock awarded $500K NSF grant to design more accessible mobile devices. URL retrieved 2 January 2018.
  11. ^ Taylor Soper. UW spinout AnswerDash, a contextual Q&A service for customer support, acquired by CloudEngage. GeekWire, June 23, 2020.
  12. ^ Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science Student Awards
  13. ^ Wobbrock, J.O., Wilson, A.D. and Li, Y. (2007). Gestures without libraries, toolkits or training: A $1 recognizer for user interface prototypes. Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST '07). Newport, Rhode Island (October 7-10, 2007). New York: ACM Press, pp. 159-168. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1294211.1294238
  14. ^ Wobbrock, J.O., Morris, M.R. and Wilson, A.D. (2009). User-defined gestures for surface computing. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '09). Boston, Massachusetts (April 4-9, 2009). New York: ACM Press, pp. 1083-1092. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1518701.1518866
  15. ^ Kane, S.K., Bigham, J.P. and Wobbrock, J.O. (2008). Slide Rule: Making mobile touch screens accessible to blind people using multi-touch interaction techniques. Proceedings of the ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS '08). Halifax, Nova Scotia (October 13-15, 2008). New York: ACM Press, pp. 73-80. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1414487
  16. ^ Lazar, J., Goldstein, D. and Taylor, A. (2015). Ensuring digital accessibility through process and policy. Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann, pp. 35-36.
  17. ^ Wobbrock, J.O., Findlater, L., Gergle, D. and Higgins, J.J. (2011). The Aligned Rank Transform for nonparametric factorial analyses using only ANOVA procedures. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '11). Vancouver, British Columbia (May 7-12, 2011). New York: ACM Press, pp. 143-146. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1978963
  18. ^ Findlater, L., Jansen, A., Shinohara, K., Dixon, M., Kamb, P., Rakita, J. and Wobbrock, J.O. (2010). Enhanced area cursors: Reducing fine-pointing demands for people with motor impairments. Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST '10). New York, NY (October 3-6, 2010). New York: ACM Press, pp. 153-162. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1866029.1866055
  19. ^ Jansen, A., Findlater, L. and Wobbrock, J.O. (2011). From the lab to the world: Lessons from extending a pointing technique for real-world use. Extended Abstracts of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '11). Vancouver, British Columbia (May 7-12, 2011). New York: ACM Press, pp. 1867-1872. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1979888
  20. ^ Wobbrock, J.O., Myers, B.A. and Kembel, J.A. (2003). EdgeWrite: A stylus-based text entry method designed for high accuracy and stability of motion. Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST '03). Vancouver, British Columbia (November 2-5, 2003). New York: ACM Press, pp. 61-70. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=964703
  21. ^ Wobbrock, J.O., Gajos, K.Z., Kane, S.K. and Vanderheiden, G.C. (2018). Ability-Based Design. Communications of the ACM 61 (6), June 2018, pp. 62-71. https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3148051
  22. ^ CloudEngage Acquires Seattle-based AnswerDash, Expanding Personalization Capabilities to Include AI Powered Self-Service Support. PR Newswire, June 23, 2020.
  23. ^ Glynn, J. and Sigg, K. (2000). DoDots. Stanford Graduate School of Business Case Study. https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/case-studies/dodots

External links[edit]