Human Experience & Design

Diverse Perspectives, Human-Centric

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.


Current Projects


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.

Project: Five Modes of Web Use

Most tools for searching the web are built around the idea of purposeful or task-driven web use, where people seek out the answers to questions they have, or gather information for a particular information need. Our fieldwork suggests that while this purposeful use is obviously an important aspect of web use, there are four other modes in which people engage with the web. These are opportunistic use, in which web use s a form of past time, orienting, where users browse a routine set of sites to ‘warm up’ for the day, respite, where users flick to certain sites as a way of breaking from other activities, and lean-back, where the web becomes a conduit for media such as radio, video or games. These modes were developed from qualitative analyses of user behaviour, but we are currently using visualisations of user logs, and developing ways of inferring mode from user behaviour, in collaboration with the Machine Learning group.

Project: 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.



Bob Corish
Bob Corish

Gerardo Gonzalez
Gerardo Gonzalez

Phil Gosset
Phil Gosset

Ewa Luger
Ewa Luger

Mike Molloy
Mike Molloy


 Bill Buxton
 Dave Kirk
 David Kirk



Some Recent Publications



    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!

    Download Issue 4


    Trust, Computing and Society

    Trust, Computing and SocietyThe 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


    Contact Us

    Human Experience & Design
    Microsoft Research
    21 Station Road
    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.