Jacob O. Wobbrock

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Jacob O. Wobbrock
Jake on Coursera.jpg
Born (1976-01-15) January 15, 1976 (age 43)
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 Most Influential Scholar Award in HCI 2018[3]

ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award 2017[4]

National Science Foundation CAREER Award[5]

NISH National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation and Design[6]
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 ACE Lab and is a founding member of the DUB Group and the Master of Human-Computer Interaction & Design program.

Prof. Wobbrock has co-authored over 160 peer-reviewed papers[7] and received 24 paper awards, including 7 best papers and 8 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[8][9]. In 2018, he was ranked #1 of 100 on The AMiner Most Influential Scholar Annual List for HCI; AMiner is an automatic citation and social network based ranking system from Tsinghua University in China. He is on the editorial board of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. His advisees have been hired at Harvard, Cornell, Colorado, Washington, Brown, Simon Fraser, and elsewhere.

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.[10]


Wobbrock's research seeks to scientifically understand people's experiences of computers and information, and to improve those experiences through design and engineering, especially for people with disabilities. His specific research interests 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,[11] the end-user elicitation design method,[12] the Slide Rule design for accessible touchscreen gestures[13] (which some have noted might have influenced Apple’s VoiceOver accessibility software design[14]), ARTool[15] for nonparametric factorial statistical analyses, and the EdgeWrite text entry system.[16] Wobbrock is also known for his formulation of Ability-Based Design,[17] which is a design approach that focuses on technology accommodating people’s existing abilities, rather than people having to conform to the ability assumptions of technology.


Prof. Wobbrock teaches broadly across technical and semi-technical Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) subjects, including courses on quantitative 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 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.


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[18] 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 SIGCHI Awards".
  2. ^ "ACM SIGACCESS ASSETS Paper Impact Award".
  3. ^ "AMiner Most Influential Scholar Award in HCI".
  4. ^ "ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award".
  5. ^ "NSF CAREER Award".
  6. ^ "National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation & Design" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Most prolific authors in computer science". DBLP.
  8. ^ NSF CAREER Award.
  9. ^ Jacob Wobbrock awarded $500K NSF grant to design more accessible mobile devices. URL retrieved 2 January 2018.
  10. ^ Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science Student Awards
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ Lazar, J., Goldstein, D. and Taylor, A. (2015). Ensuring digital accessibility through process and policy. Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann, pp. 35-36.
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ 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
  18. ^ Glynn, J. and Sigg, K. (2000). DoDots. Stanford Graduate School of Business Case Study. https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/case-studies/dodots

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