Bill Buxton is a relentless advocate for innovation, design, and especially the appropriate consideration of human values, capacity, and culture in the conception, implementation, and use of new products and technologies. This is reflected in his research, teaching, talks, and writing—including his column on design and innovation for BusinessWeek.com, and his 2007 book, Sketching User Experiences.
In December 2005, he was appointed Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. Prior to that, he was Principal of his own Toronto-based boutique design and consulting firm, Buxton Design.
Buxton began his career as a composer and performer, having done a Bachelor of Music degree at Queen's University. He then studied and taught for two years at the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht, Holland.
In 1975 Bill started designing his own digital musical instruments. This is what led him to the University of Toronto, where he completed an MSc in Computer Science, and subsequently jointed the faculty. It is also the path that brought him into the field of human-computer interaction, which is his technical area of specialty.
From 1987-89, Buxton was in Cambridge England, helping establish a new satellite of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (EuroPARC). From 1989-94 he split his time between Toronto, where he was Scientific Director of the Ontario Telepresence Project, and Palo Alto, California, where he was a consulting researcher at Xerox PARC.
From 1994 until December 2002, he was Chief Scientist of Alias|Wavefront, (now part of Autodesk) and from 1995, its parent company SGI Inc. In the fall of 2004, he became a part-time instructor in the Department of Industrial Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design. In 2004/05 he was also Visiting Professor at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the University of Toronto. He currently splits his time between Redmond and Toronto.
In 1995, Buxton became the third recipient of the Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society Award for contributions to research in computer graphics and human-computer interaction. In 2000 he was given the New Media Visionary of the Year Award at the Canadian New Media Awards. In 2001, The Hollywood Reporter named him one of the 10 most influential innovators in Hollywood. In 2002, Time Magazine named him one of the top 5 designers in Canada. Also in 2002, he was elected to the CHI Academy. In October, 2005, he and Gord Kurtenbach received the "Lasting Impact Award", from ACM UIST 2005, which was awarded for their 1991 paper, Issues in Combining Marking and Direct Manipulation Techniques. In June, 2007, he was named Doctor of Design, Honoris Causa by the Ontario College of Art and Design, in 2008 he became the 10th recipient of the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award, "for fundamental contributions to the field of Computer Human Interaction," and in January 2009 he was elected Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), for his contributions to the field of human-computer interaction.
From 1998-2004, Buxton was on the board of the Canadian Film Centre, and in 1998-99 chaired a panel to advise the premier of Ontario on developing long term policy to foster innovation, through the Ontario Jobs and Investment Board. He is on a number of academic advisory boards, the Department of Industrial Design of the Technical University in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Buxton is a member of the Association of Computing Machinery and the Industrial Designers Society of America.
Outside of work, Buxton loves the outdoors. He is especially passionate about mountains, including skiing, climbing, and touring, both in summer and winter. This interest extends to the written word. He has contributed to the literature on mountain history and exploration, is an avid bibliophile, and was one of the three jury members of the 2005 Banff Mountain Book Festival. In addition, he is an avid cyclist, and active in kayaking, SCUBA diving and windsurfing. He is an accomplished equestrian, and in 1996 was awarded the Veteran Rider of the Year award from the Ontario Horse Trials Association, and in 2000 was named to the Talent Squad of the National Eventing Team. Finally, he has a life-long fascination with both art and his wife, Elizabeth - who owns and operates a contemporary art gallery, Gallery 888, in Toronto, Canada.