I am home after having spent almost a week at CHI 2012 in Austin, Texas. First two days I was chairing the doctoral consortium. The consortium is a way of looking into the future! The students are some of the best in the field and their work is what will be seen in CHI in a few years. I can not really say that there was a clear trend except that the diversity within HCI will grow even more.
The CHI conference itself was great. The last few years we have seen serious changes in the content of CHI. It is more diverse, more including of perspectives and approaches to HCI research. There were many papers that would never have been presented at CHI just a few years ago. Personally I am of course happy to see some more theoretically oriented papers and more design oriented papers. It was also exciting to see the interactivity exhibition, that is, all the new designs, artifacts and systems that manifest research in a more concrete way.
And then finally, all the people. Since I basically only go to one conference per year nowadays, CHI works greats. Almost everyone is there and your get a chance to reconnect and connect to colleagues during a few intense days. Discussions lead to new ideas and new collaborations. Thanks to everyone who organized the conference.