PITTSBURGH–"One Cold Hand," (www.onecoldhand.com), a Web site designed to reunite lost gloves with their mates, is the winner of Carnegie Mellon University's first Smiley Award. This award, sponsored by Yahoo! Inc., will be presented annually to recognize "innovation in technology-assisted person-to-person communication." The award competition is open to all graduate and undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon.
The award is named in honor of the ubiquitous Smiley emoticon, :-), created at the university 25 years ago. The Smiley symbol was an early &ndash and still widely used ndash; convention allowing people to indicate humor and happiness in text messages on the Internet.
The "One Cold Hand" Web site was created by Jennifer Gooch, a graduate student in Carnegie Mellon's School of Art, and Turadg Aleahmad, a doctoral student in the Human Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) – part of Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. They will share the $500 first prize, and their names will be engraved on a plaque kept on permanent display at the university.
Two honorable mention awards were also announced. One went to "Moodjam" (www.moodjam.com), created by HCII doctoral student Ian Li. Moodjam is an online diary that allows people to express their moods and feelings on a Web site using patterns of color. The other honorable mention award went to "Buxfer" (www.buxfer.com), created by computer science doctoral students Ashwin Bharambe, Amit Manjhi and Shashank Pandit. Buxfer is a free, Web-based application that allows its users to easily keep track of shared expenses and to figure out who owes money to whom, which is handy for roommates, student social groups and many others. The authors are now adding many new features to try to commercialize this service.
The winning student projects were chosen by a panel of faculty and student judges. All the winners will be honored at 5 p.m. today (Friday, Feb. 29) at a special Yahoo-sponsored celebration in the Newell-Simon Hall Perlis Atrium.
"Receiving the Smiley Award is a real honor," Gooch said. "A lot of my current work and research looks at how people use technology in order to connect. As a native of Dallas, we didn't need gloves very often. When I moved here I noticed them everywhere, lying on the ground lonely and useless. I thought a site to reunite gloves— a dating site for gloves, as it were— would be an interesting metaphor for our attempt to find what's missing. The glove was a perfect symbol in that metaphor, as it is quite useless without its partner.
"It's rewarding to have that work validated by recognition outside of my field," Gooch said, "specifically from such an entity as Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department."
The Smiley Award (www.cs.cmu.edu/smiley/sa.html) was established last fall at the urging of the Smiley's inventor, Computer Science Research Professor Scott Fahlman, who hopes it will encourage development of more student projects that enhance person-to-person communication via computer, as the Smiley did back in 1982.
Fahlman said the Smiley Award is aimed at recognizing clever, perhaps small or "bootleg" contributions, in the spirit of the original Smiley symbol. "I think that the annual Smiley Award will highlight some of the exciting work that takes place on this campus — projects that are both useful and fun," he said. "That's a big part of the spirit of Carnegie Mellon. To paraphrase our illustrious founder: My :-) is in the work."
About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix of programs in engineering, computer science, robotics, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration, and innovation. A small student-to-faculty ratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students and professors. While technology is pervasive on its 144-acre Pittsburgh campus, Carnegie Mellon is also distinctive among leading research universities for the world-renowned programs in its College of Fine Arts. A global university, Carnegie Mellon has campuses in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia and Europe. For more, see www.cmu.edu.