Our group is about designing and fabricating new human experiences with computing. These play on many different kinds of human values, from amplifying efficiency and effectiveness to creating delight and wonder in our interactions with technology. And they can be situated in any aspect of everyday life, from increasing productivity in the workplace to respecting the tenderness of family life.
To do this, we draw on diverse perspectives across the sciences, engineering, arts and humanities. Because of our skill-set, we are unique in being able to create and explore new experiences end-to-end, starting from technology insight, user understanding or design.
As a part of Microsoft, we aim to build new technologies, to map out new design spaces, and to provide different ways of looking at human behaviour from low level interaction through to the social and cultural ramifications of technology.
(HXD was formerly called Socio-Digital Systems, part of Computer-Mediated Living.)
ASSESS MS is a system to support the clinical assessment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) using Kinect. The aim is to quantify changes in motor ability to enable more consistent and finer grained tracking of disease progression than currently possible. It is developed by a multi-disciplinary team of Human-Computer Interaction Researchers, Machine Learning Researchers, and Health Professionals, who have worked together over a period of 18 months to shape the system. A substantial challenge for the human-computer interaction has been to create a recording tool that captures neuro-assessment movements performed by patients with sufficient standardisation in the clinic. Our research has drawn on multi-disciplinary team meetings, design activities, observation of current clinical assessment practice, and user testing with healthy volunteers and patients to tease out design issues for depth-sensing computer vision in real world contexts.
Increasingly the things that matter to us live in the digital world, be they on computers and mobile devices, synced across Cloud services, generated as social media, or curated via sites like Pinterest. In this project we look more closely at what digital possessions are, where they are hosted and stored, how users can interact with them, and what this means for their relationships with them. Do users feel like they possess this content? And is this of concern to them, or has the landscape of Cloud computing, Web 2.0, and operating systems that hide away folder hierarchies changed the way we think about our digital stuff? If possession is important, how might it be supported?
Tenison Road Project
This project aims to better understand the relevance data has for the community living on Tenison Road in Cambridge and how it might use different kinds of local data in productive ways. While it is very much a project cooked up by some of us in the HXD group at Microsoft Research, the intention is for it to be a community-run project drawing on the collective interests and skills of people living and working on Tenison Road. The project was launched in October 2013 and has involved meetings and conversations amongst the people on Tenison Road and those of us at Microsoft Research. The emphasis here has been on working out what matters to Tenison Road and how data could play a role. Alongside these threads of conversation, we’re also building a number of systems or ‘data-instruments‘ to collect, aggregate and share relevant and meaningful data. Overall, the project is intended to illustrate how data can be thought about in deeper and more meaningful ways. At all levels, it is intended to be a common exercise in which we collectively work through the things that are important to a street and figure out new ways to participate and engage in social life.
Proximity and Social Devices
While we live in a world of heterogeneous devices and applications, our practices and experiences with these remains fractured. The notion of social device ecologies is to develop experiences that wirelessly and seamlessly and extend across multiple co-proximate devices in ways that exploits their combination of affordances. The idea is that devices and applications can be made aware of capabilities of other devices in the same place to enable richer and more continuous user experiences across them.
Touchless Interaction in Surgical Settings
Surgery is increasingly reliant on medical imaging to “look” inside the body with minimal physical invasion. However, a surgeon’s interaction with images is constrained by their need to maintain sterility. Re-scrubbing is time consuming, and instructing others to manipulate equipment interferes with a surgeon’s interpretation of the images. Working with two partner hospitals, we are developing two systems for manipulating image data. One is in partnership with vascular surgeons at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospital in London, and the other with neurosurgeons at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. Both systems support surgeons to manipulate 3D renderings in ways which are sensitive to their existing practices and teamwork. This study is funded by MS Connections in collaboration with the Computer Vision group and Lancaster University. View Project Page with Machine Learning and Planning group.
- r.harper, David Randall, and Wes Sharrock, Choice: the sciences of reason in the 21st century: a critical assessment, Polity Press, 3 December 2015.
- r.harper, Siân Lindley, Richard Banks, Phil Gosset, and gavin smyth, Breaching the PC Data Store: What do graphs tell us about files?, Springer, December 2015.
- Richard Harper, Why Skype? Explorations in the Grammar of ‘Being in touch’, Oxford University Press, August 2015.
- Cecily Morrison, Marcus D'Souza, Kit Huckvale, Jonas F Dorn, Jessica Burggraaff, Christian Philipp Kamm, Saskia Marie Steinheimer, Peter Kontschieder, Antonio Criminisi, Bernard Uitdehaag, Frank Dahlke, Ludwig Kappos, and Abigail Sellen, Usability and acceptability of ASSESS MS: a system to support the assessment of motor dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis using depth-sensing computer vision, in Journal of Medical Internet Research (Human Factors), May 2015.
- Sean Rintel, Richard Harper, Rod Watson, and Kenton O'Hara, ‘Me For You’: Lessons About Everyday Video Messaging From Skype Qik, ACM CHI2015 Workshop - Everyday Telepresence: Emerging Practices and Future Research Directions, 19 April 2015.
- Rachel Jacobs, Steven Benford, and Ewa Luger, Behind the Scences at HCI's Turn to the Arts, ACM – Association for Computing Machinery, 18 April 2015.
- Ewa Luger, Lachlan Urquhart, Tom Rodden, and Michael Golembewski, Playing the Legal Card: Using Ideation Cards to Raise Data Protection Issues within the Design Process, ACM – Association for Computing Machinery, 17 April 2015.
- Tim Regan, David Sweeney, John Helmes, Vasilis Vlachokyriakos, Siân Lindey, and Alex S. Taylor, Designing Engaging Data in Communities, in CHI EA '15, Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM – Association for Computing Machinery, April 2015.
- Alex S Taylor, Siân Lindley, Tim Regan, David Sweeney, Vasillis Vlachokyriakos, Lillie Grainger, and Jessica Lingel, Data-in-Place: Thinking Through the Relations Between Data and Community, in CHI '15, Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM – Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, April 2015.
- Rebecca D. Watkins, Abigail Sellen, and Siân E. Lindley, Digital Collections and Digital Collecting Practices, ACM – Association for Computing Machinery, April 2015.
- Siân Lindley, Making Time, in Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing , ACM – Association for Computing Machinery, March 2015.
- Sean Rintel, Omnirelevance in Technologised Interaction: Couples Coping with Video Calling Distortions, in R. Fitzgerald & W. Housley (Eds.) Membership categorization analysis: Studies of social knowledge in action (Pp. 123-150), Sage Publications Ltd, March 2015.
- Hanif Baharin, Stephen Viller, and Sean Rintel, SonicAIR: Supporting independent living with reciprocal ambient audio awareness (In Press), in ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interactions, ACM – Association for Computing Machinery, March 2015.
- sadia ahmed, Greg McInerny, Kenton O'Hara, Richard Harper, Lara Salido, Stephen Emmott, and Lucas Joppa, Scientists and software – surveying the species distribution modelling community, in Diversity and Distributions, Wiley, January 2015.
- Kenton O'Hara, Gerardo Gonzalez, Abigail Sellen, Graeme Penney, Varnavas, Helena Mentis, Antonio Criminisi, Robert Corish, Mark Rouncefield, Neville Dastur, and Tom Carrell, Touchless Interaction in Surgery, in Communications of the ACM, December 2014.
Issue 4 of our free magazine is all about Digital Possession
Each issue of "Things We've Learnt About..." summarises the work of the Human Experience & Design group around a specific theme. Issue 4 is all about DIGITAL POSSESSION. It's packed full of insights and ideas that explore how we think about the digital things we own, all presented in way that we hope is interesting, insightful and inspirational. And most importantly, succinct. Get it here!
Trust, Computing and Society
The latest book from HXD is Trust, Computing and Society, (Harper, Ed). This set of essays explores the question of trust in computing from technical, socio-philosophical, and design perspectives.
Reviews: 'Timely, nuanced and refreshing'; 'successful, thought-provoking, timely'.
Being Human Report
HXD, along with 40 or so of the world's best HCI researchers, have put together a report for anyone interested in the ramifications of our digital future and in ways society must adjust to the technological changes to come.
Recent Press Coverage
- David Sweeney's Physical Charts, Short Listed for the Information is Beautiful Awards, November 2014
- We Need Technology to Help Us Remember the Future, Wired, January 2013, featuring comments by Abigail Sellen.
- In Defense of the Power of Paper, New York Times, September 2012. An article on the power of paper featuring Richard Harper.
- The Thinking Digital Interviews: Richard Banks, May 2013. An interview prior to Richard's presentation at Thinking Digital 2012.
- Using touchless interaction in surgery, May 2012: A piece in New Scientist about our joint project with the Machine Learning Group here at the lab, as well as St. Thomas' hospital, and Lancaster University.
- A piece on the BBC News about the touchless surgery system, described above, in use in vascular surgery, May 2012.
- An interview with Abigail Sellen on lifelogging on CBC radio's show Spark in Jan 2012.
- Richard Banks' book The Future of Looking Back is out and is getting great reviews!
- An excellent review of Richard Harper's book Texture, from MIT Press. The book won the Association of Internet Researchers award for best book of 2011.
- Richard Harper on communications overload. Full page in the Observer, Nov. 2010.
Human Experience & Design
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Cambridge CB1 2FB
+44 1223 479700
The Human Experience & Design group is always looking for interns and Post-docs. For more information, visit Microsoft Research Careers.
MSR also funds PhD scholarships - in computer science primarily but in all the social sciences and humanities. Currently, the Human Experience & Design group is working with Professor Constantine Sandis, author of The Things We Do and Why We Do Them, on the philosophy of communication. Applicants for a PhD in that subject should apply here.