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Joseph LaViola, Jr.
Creates pen-centric and multi-touch user interfaces to enrich educational experiences

Joseph LaViola, Jr. Professor

Dept of Computer Science
Office: HEC, Room 217A

He is Also:

Director of the Modeling and Simulation Graduate Program at UCF

Charles N. Millican Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Computer Science

Director of UCF’s Interactive Computing Experience Research Cluster of Excellence

Affiliated Research Faculty, Institute for Simulation and Training, UCF

"I bring mathematical sketches to life. I hope to provide state-of-the-art computer interactive systems that help people become more engaged in the learning process and improve the user experience overall."


LaViola’s research creates new and innovative pen-centric and multi-touch user interfaces and applications. The main focus of his work in pen computing is mathematical sketching, the ability to associate handwritten mathematics and drawings together to create illustrations that assist users in learning and understanding science and mathematical concepts. He is also interested in learning how users are affected by the pen-centric interfaces his team develops and whether the educational applications they create are pedagogically effective.

Societal Impact

LaViola’s exploration of pen-and touch-based interactive computing, 3D spatial interfaces, human-robot interaction, and user interface evaluation to affect millions of people in a positive way. Today, computers applications are less frustrating and easier to learn. Students are better able to grasp math and physics concepts and professionals perform better at their jobs through training interfaces.

Graduate Students and Achievements

Currently advising one master’s students and 11 doctoral students.


Ph.D. in Computer Science, Brown University

M.S. in Computer Science, Brown University

M.S. in Applied Mathematics, Brown University

B.S. in Computer Science, Atlantic University

Current Projects

Developing and evaluating 3D user interfaces for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality: Bringing 3D user interface techniques and concepts into mainstream video games by leveraging the existing body of work in 3DUI and VR and devising new strategies and methodologies for bringing spatial 3D interaction to gamers.

Creating new and innovative pen-centric user interfaces and applications: LaViola’s focus in pen computing is mathematical sketching, the ability to associate handwritten mathematics and drawings together to create illustrations that assist users in learning and understanding science and mathematical concepts.

Exploration and development of innovative user interfaces for robotic control: Exploring ways to leverage 3D spatial user interface technologies for tele-operation as well as guidance for semi-autonomous robots including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), humanoid robots, and robotic arms.

Games, training and learning applications

Understanding Predictive Tracking and Motion Estimation Algorithms in Virtual Environments

Courses He Teaches

3D Interfaces for Games and Virtual Reality

Honors Computer Science II

Featured Video


The Interactive Systems and User Experience Cluster of Excellence, featuring a large three-screen projection system, 3D televisions, tablet PCs and force-feedback devices

Discoveries/Publication Highlights

LaViola has more than 100 papers published and more than 7,000 citations. Publication highlights include:

LaViola, J., Kruijff, E., McMahan, R., Bowman, D., and Poupyrev, I. 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice, Second Edition, Addison Wesley, April 2017.

Taranta, E., Maghoumi, M., Pittman, C., and LaViola, J. “A Rapid Prototyping Approach to Synthetic Data Generation for Improved 2D Gesture Recognition”. Proceedings of the 29th Annual Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST ’16). 873-885, October 2016.

Kulshreshth, A. and LaViola, J. “Dynamic Stereoscopic 3D Parameter Adjustment for Enhanced Depth Discrimination”. Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’16), 177-187, May 2016.

Taranta, E., Simons, K., Sukthankar, R., and LaViola, J. “Exploring the Benefits of Context in 3D Gesture Recognition for Game-Based Virtual Environments”, ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems, 5(1): Article 1 (34 pages), March 2015.

View LaViola's Google Scholar Page



2018: UCF Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award (SOTL)
2017: UCF Research Incentive Award (RIA)
2017: ACM CHI 2017 Honorable Mention Paper (top 5% of all paper submissions)
2016: Best Paper Award, Ninth IEEE International Conference on the Internet of Things 2016


Total Funding: $5,068,218 Total as PI: $4,276,218

Total as Co-PI: $792,000

LaViola’s share at UCF: $4,272,131

Noteworthy industry partnerships:  Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman