Keywords: reinforcement learning, human-computer interaction
Abstract: We aim to help users communicate their intent to machines using flexible, adaptive interfaces that translate arbitrary user input into desired actions. In this work, we focus on assistive typing applications in which a user cannot operate a keyboard, but can instead supply other inputs, such as webcam images that capture eye gaze or neural activity measured by a brain implant. Standard methods train a model on a fixed dataset of user inputs, then deploy a static interface that does not learn from its mistakes; in part, because extracting an error signal from user behavior can be challenging. We investigate a simple idea that would enable such interfaces to improve over time, with minimal additional effort from the user: online learning from user feedback on the accuracy of the interface's actions. In the typing domain, we leverage backspaces as feedback that the interface did not perform the desired action. We propose an algorithm called x-to-text (X2T) that trains a predictive model of this feedback signal, and uses this model to fine-tune any existing, default interface for translating user input into actions that select words or characters. We evaluate X2T through a small-scale online user study with 12 participants who type sentences by gazing at their desired words, a large-scale observational study on handwriting samples from 60 users, and a pilot study with one participant using an electrocorticography-based brain-computer interface. The results show that X2T learns to outperform a non-adaptive default interface, stimulates user co-adaptation to the interface, personalizes the interface to individual users, and can leverage offline data collected from the default interface to improve its initial performance and accelerate online learning.
One-sentence Summary: We use online learning from user feedback to train an adaptive interface for typing words using inputs from a brain implant or webcam.
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