My research is concerned with the human aspects of ubiquitous,
pervasive and tangible computing. I am interested in both theory and practice: understanding
how everyday, learning and work activities can be augmented and the intellect extended through interactive technologies.
A focus is on how to design, build and evaluate interactive representations
that support external and distributed
cognition. Many of my ideas, research projects and theoretical
developments have come about as a result of the close synergy and
long collaboration I had with the late Mike Scaife.
External representations and collaboration
Shareable interfaces: mobile, tangible and ubiquitous computing
Theory and reflections
continuing thread running through my research is to consider how
we interact with external representations - be they diagrams, sketches,
animations, multimedia, virtual environments or other. In particular,
my research is concerned with developing a theoretical account of
the 'external cognition' that occurs when we create, interact with
and use different and multiple representations for various kinds
of activities (e.g. learning, problem-solving). I am also interested
in how new media and novel technologies can be designed and appropriated
to represent information in novel ways - that cannot be achieved
using 'traditional' media and technologies (e.g. books, film, TV).
A recent interest has been to look at the value of interacting with
physical artefacts (i.e. tangibles) that are augmented with computation
and digital representations in interesting ways.
example of a novel interactive technique we developed
where multiple representations are dynamically linked to each other.
This computational mechanism has potentially a number of cognitive
benefits. For example, in one of our earlier research projects,
we developed multimedia software to teach complex concepts to children
by dynamically linking difficult abstract representations with familiar
concrete ones. The software (called PondWorld) was designed to enable
children to construct and change aspects of one representation,
which resulted in corresponding changes being made to an interlinked
also enables children to create their own abstractions (food webs)
of a pond ecosystem and to visualise the outcomes of making both
incorrect and correct decisions. To the left is a frame from the
software showing what happens when a child incorrectly places the
weed above the fish in the food web formalism - an animation is
played with sound effects depicting a 'bloodbath' whereby the weed
is seen eating the fish.
more recent research has explored how different forms of external
representations that are presented in different modalities (including
sound and touch) can be designed to support playful and reflective learning.
The Equator project was a six-year interdisciplinary research collaboration
between eight British universities, exploring the relationship between the
physical and the digital. A number of projects have been conducted that
explore how novel learning and playing experiences can be designed that move
beyond the desktop to promote reflection, collaboration and a sense of
wonderment among children. An example is the Ambient Wood project, an
outdoors digitally augmented learning experience. A variety of handmade and
off-the-shelf devices (e.g., PDAs) were designed, built and deployed using a
wireless network in a real woodland. A main goal was to enable children to
reflect upon various invisible biological processes (e.g., photosynthesis)
through discovering various physical aspects of the environment (e.g.,
light, plants, insects). The medley of learning tools included probing
devices, an ambient horn and a periscope device (see belowthat when
interacted with provided a range of contextually relevant information. Our
studies showed children exploring the Ambient Wood in highly collaborative,
imaginative and reflective ways.
For more information see Equator project.
representations and collaboration
am interested in the functional and changing role different kinds
of external representations play in complex activities distributed
over time, space and people. I have been studying how the combination
of physical and electronic representations are used and created
in a number of workplace settings, including the creation and editing
of content in the news and media industry, the construction of building
plans in engineering companies and the construction of booking forms
and ticketing in travel centres.
project that investigated how best to integrate multiple
Espace. This project was concerned with how to present information
via multiple interlinked displays that can be interacted with in
different ways by different social groupings. A focus was on the
spatio-temporal aspects of how best to display co-linked representations
on multiple displays such that the individuals can follow the flow
of information that is being presented and also know intuitively
how to interact with the information presented on different displays.
A particular research issue was how individuals in different groupings
know which display (or part of) to look at and find and interact
with the information they need (or which someone else is referring
to) for a given task or stage of an activity. We have carried out
a number of experimental and ethnographic studies (Rodden et al,
2002; Rogers et al, 2002) that have shown how orientation and positioning
of different kinds of interactive displays can have profound effects
on the nature of the coordination and collaboration that unfolds.
For more information, see Espace project.
Shareable interfaces: Mobile, tangible and ubiquitous computing
This line of research is concerned with developing new frameworks, principles and concepts for mobile, tangible and ubiquitous computing. We are also exploring how these technologies might be used in the real world. We investigate the security and privacy aspects in ubiquitous computing. Another strand of our research focuses on augmenting and extending everyday learning and work activities with interactive technologies that move "beyond the desktop".
We have designed a number of enhanced user experiences through appropriating and assembling a diversity of technologies including mobile, wireless, handheld and pervasive computing. Domains we are looking at are collaborative learning, creative play, working, and decision-making. We are also investigating how a variety of surfaces can be integrated, including large mixed paper-electronic wall displays, tangibles and ambient displays.
For more information see ShareIT Project.
Theory and reflections
A central part of our research involves adopting a critical stance towards theory and conceptual frameworks. For example, we have critiqued the role of theory in HCI and its application; explored the role of philosophical argument in experimental design; and argued for the need for new challenges and agendas for UbiComp. We also adopt theoretical frameworks from other disciplines for informing our research analysis and design.