The Biennial Conference of the International Graphonomics Society is a single-track international forum for discussion on recent advances in the fields of science, humanities, arts and technology of fine motor skills. The 15th edition was held in the wonderful hotel resort “Live Aqua” in Cancun along the Mayan coast of Mexico. It was a well-organized conference with interesting and informative presentations related to Graphonomics and Handwriting.
For the IGS2011 conference, a total of 58 papers have been accepted. Out of theses papers, 39 papers were presented in the contributed session, 7 were presented in an invited session on brain-machine interfaces and 12 papers were presented as posters throughout the whole workshop. This gave the participants enough room for discussions at the posters without missing any oral presentation of the single-track conference.
The conference theme Translational Graphonomics was program throughout the whole conference. Besides the contributed publications, three major program points made the conference very interesting and unique. First of all, there have been three excellently chosen invited talks by well-recognized international researchers in the field of neuro-science. Mikhail Lebedev spoke about "Brain-Machine Interfaces: From Locomotion to Fine Hand Movements" and reported on experiments with multi-electrode arrays on rhesus monkeys which show that a rich repertoire of motor activities could be reproduced by the brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). Marc H. Schieber gave a presentation about “Changing Circuits that Control the Fingers: Dissociating Motor Cortex from the Motor” where he showed that motor cortex neurons were able to adapt quickly to new functions, e.g., driving a cursor on a screen to a specified 1D-position. Ranulfo Romo spoke about "Conversion of sensory signals into decision making" and discussed several research approaches which can finally integrated to understand how subjective sensory experience arises in the activity of the brain.
The second unique feature was a special session on BMI for dexterous movement control chaired by Angelo Macelli. This session included seven short presentations and position statements about the quality and the possibilities of BMI. Afterwards, in a special discussion forum moderated by Mikhail Lebedev, Marc H. Schieber, and Ranulfo Romo, intensive discussions on this topic and the presented statements were made by the moderators and the audience. More detailed information about these discussions will follow in a separate report.
As a third feature, several exhibitors presented their systems in the Aqua Foyer. As part of the exhibition, g.rec Medical Engineering presented a brain-computer interface (BCI) workshop on Wednesday afternoon. There, Christoph Guger spoke about a very promising BCI application which has been awarded by the Microsoft Innovation Award 2010. This special session was very appreciated by the IGS-audience and provided a perfect enrichment if the IGS conference, especially regarding the conference theme Translational Graphonomics.
Beside the huge variety of technical program points, there was a good selection of social events at beautiful sites in the hotel. First, there was the Welcome Reception on Sunday evening held in the pool area of the hotel. We enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere and the interesting Mexican music by south Mexican Marimba performers. As the weather was perfect on Sunday, it was also perfect at the beginning of the workshop on Monday, i.e., the rain forced the participants to stay inside the auditory instead of going to the beach. It seems that the organizers planned everything
This weather conditions at the banquet on Tuesday were again sunny and warm. As such, the idea of holding the banquet in the beach area was a good decision. The nice dinner was accompanied by another music performance. This time a Mariachi band from western Mexico pleased us with wonderful vital music performed with typical Mexican instruments and a nice front singer. Finally, after the dinner, we awaited the arrival of the turtles, and those who waited long enough could undergo the unique experience of observing a turtle laying eggs at the beach.
During the closing session, the best student paper awards were handed to the awardees.
Furthermore, selected papers will be invited to a full submission at several journals of the community.
Due to the high-quality contributions, the outstanding invited speakers and the newly introduced features, the IGS 2011 was a very successful conference. Now we are looking forward to see each other again on the 16th (=2**4th) edition of the conference which will take place in Japan.
Dr. Marcus Eichenberger-Liwicki
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
+49 (0)631 20575 1200
Trippstadter Str. 122, 67663 Kaiserslautern http://www.dfki.de/~liwicki/
The conference IGS2011 was particularly interesting because it was gathering people from diverse fields of interest (forensic, system development, kinesiology, etc.) around the study of a common interest: understanding the processes of fine motor control in the production of writing like movements. It addressed a topic not covered so thoroughly by any other serious and international conference that I know of. Therefore, it seemed a must to me for any human movement scientist working with motion involved in writing or drawing. I also enjoyed very much the tangible sense of community that there was between the participants.
As first time attendees, we were very pleased with the 2011 IGS international conference in Cancun Mexico. The conference location was delightful but more importantly we found the scientific interactions we had come for. Our involvement in handwriting research is in instruction for children with dysgraphia. As occupational therapists our focus is on transcription skills and we work with children with many types of disability. The conference allowed us to make connections with researchers from Australia to France to Israel with similar interests. Our conversations brought exchanges that manuscripts and email just don't substitute for. We found the organization of the conference, with poster and social times, well planned for this type of interaction.
We were pleased with the varied levels of expertise at the event. All attendees were good scholars with some operating on an international scale and others more locally focused. Students made worthy contributions as well. One of the things that attracted us to this event was the opportunity to look at handwriting from completely different points of view. We were naive to the field of handwriting forensics and amazed by the sessions on brain-machine interface. We wanted to be exposed to areas new to us and we were not disappointed.
The company was cordial. We felt very welcome. IGS was very helpful in assisting us in the processes of paper submission, registration, and travel details related to the conference. We recommend the experience.
Attending the IGS 2011 conference in Cancun was wonderful. Listening to all the research presented was enlightening. I especially enjoyed meeting and mingling with such esteemed multidisciplinary experts in handwriting from around the world. This was an experience I will always cherish. Thank you.
Lisa Tzippy Shooman, MS, OTR/L, BSS, CLVT
Occupational Therapist from the USA doing Research in Handwriting email@example.com
It was a very good conference. The venue was beautiful and I really enjoyed going to the Mayan ruins (which was the highlight of the conference for me!). Also, sea turtles were coming up in the evening and laying eggs on the shore and I watched that process one evening under the full moon (which was the other highlight). Martin Jarvis and I went to a symphony in downtown Cancun one evening and went behind the stage and met the musicians (another highlight). So, as you can see, my most memorable moments of the conference really weren't at the conference at all! Still, it was well-organized, many papers were interesting but the other activities were really distracting!
For future reference, I recommend giving everyone a hard copy of the proceedings as there were several complaints about this and I find it personally helps me to focus better on the presentations when I can refer to the paper in front of me. It wasn't so bad for me because I had my laptop in front of me, but most others didn't.
Also, I wonder how the posters are selected. For example, why was mine selected for a poster presentation while others were not? I really liked the poster presentation. I think the research got more and better feedback than as an oral presentation. However, there were probably a few speakers who had troubles with English or just weren't very good presenters and their material would have been better served as a poster. But you were right about the poster presentation getting different kind of feedback. I am very glad I did a poster as I had never presented an academic poster before.