Human-Centered Computing: Putting the Human Before Everything Else

Using advances in technology to improve healthcare

Experts suggest that there have been more technological improvements in the last 50 years than in the previous 5,000. It has therefore become increasingly important to identify functional ways to use such technologies, and perhaps even more importantly, how to use technologies for the good of society.  Dr. Nadir Weibel's work at the University of California, San Diego focuses on Human-Centered Computing and is situated at the intersection of computer science, cognitive science, and the health sciences. He seeks to address specific and daily needs of critical populations in healthcare. He is a computer scientist that believes in putting the human before everything else. He accomplishes this by investigating tools, techniques, and infrastructure supporting the deployment of innovative interactive, multimodal, and tangible devices in context. Additionally, he is also an ethnographer that uses novel methods for studying and quantifying the cognitive consequences of the introduction of this technology in the everyday life.

Dr. Weibel is currently developing theory and methods, designing and implementing prototypes, and evaluating the effectiveness of interactive multimodal physical-digital systems such as pen-based and touch-based devices, depth cameras (e.g. Kinect), wearable and ubiquitous computing (e.g. Google Glass), as well as mobile devices and interactive information visualization, to introduce novel ways to support critical settings within the realm of healthcare. In short, his research is an important tool in improving the overall quality of life of patient populations by introducing a variety of novel technology in specific settings and being available to patients and people in need. His research is able to address the needs of a variety of people in their everyday life by impacting and managing their diseases, improving the healthcare system, and improving treatment and outcomes for patients.


Current projects include:

  • Technology: Investigating a variety of ubiquitous and multimodal technology to support people undergoing specific health issues such as aphasia, colorblindness, bruxism, HIV, stroke, and more. Dr. Weibel studies information delivery and communication in the Trauma Room where medical professionals make critical life decisions. In this context, his research explores mechanisms to support situation awareness through the introduction of new technologies such as digital pen and paper, large interactive displays, and Google Glass during trauma resuscitations.

  • Communication: In the medical office communication can be challenging between physicians and patients and is often complicated by having a third party in the room such as a relative or an interpreter and by the additional presence of the Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Dr. Weibel's research in this setting, is directed at better understanding the system defined by the medical office and the role that people, artifacts, and technology play in this environment to inform the design of the next generation of interactive tools and visualizations. Therefore, he develops tools and novel methods to accelerate observational analysis by employing multi-modal pattern recognition capabilities to pre-segment and tag records and increases analysis power by visualizing multimodal activity and macro-micro relationships.

  • Methods and Tools: The methods and tools that Dr. Weibel develops in research are currently used to understand the activity dynamics of a variety of critical population from surgeons in the operating rooms, to patients during medical consultations, to people using sign language for communications, to patients undergoing a stroke. The interactive visualization techniques that he is developing are currently also helping novel exploratory data analysis efforts towards a better understanding of behavioral and social dynamics in HIV-infected patients and to inform a novel class of data-driven prediction and preventative campaigns.



Dr. Weibel is a Research Scientist (Research Assistant Professor) and Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at University of California, San Diego, and a Research Health Science Specialist at the VA San Diego Health System. His work on Human-Centered Computing is situated at the intersection of computer science, cognitive science, and the health sciences. He is a computer scientists who investigates tools, techniques, and infrastructure supporting the deployment of innovative interactive multimodal and tangible devices in context, and an ethnographer using novel methods for studying and quantifying the cognitive consequences of the introduction of this technology into everyday life.

Dr. Weibel is originally from the southern and Italian part of Switzerland (Ticino) where he completed all the basic schools. He holds a masters degree in Computer Science and Engineering from ETH Zurich, where he also completed his Ph.D. in 2009. He joined the University of California, San Diego in 2009 as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Distributed Cognition and Human Computer Interaction Lab. He moved into the faculty of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at University of California, San Diego and the VA San Diego Health System in 2012.

Dr. Weibel's interest in healthcare began at an early age when he wanted to be a doctor. When he later chose to study engineering, he was determined to find a way to use his skills to help the medical field. As a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, he had the opportunity to build a system that helped patients with aphasia with their speaking ability. The topical point, Dr. Weibel explains was when, "I developed the technology and it worked to help make people's lives better."When he saw that his technology could make a tangible difference, he decided to commit the rest of his professional career towards continuing to create technologies that will have long lasting impacts on society.


Designing audio-enhanced paper photos for older adult emotional wellbeing in communication therapy


Click "like" to change your behavior: a mixed methods study of college students


Projector phone use: practices and social implications


A Paper-Digital Interface for Information Capture and Display in Time-Critical Medical Work


Interpreter-mediated physician-patient communication: Opportunities for multimodal healthcare interfaces


Multimodal data analysis and visualization to study the usage of Electronic Health Records


Digital pen and paper practices in observational research


Development of an erythropoietin prescription simulator to improve abilities for the prescription of erythropoietin stimulating



Best Paper Nominee Award, 2014

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship, 2014

University of California San Diego Professional Development Award, 2013

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) Fellowship for Advanced Researchers, 2011-2012