Small jpg of tim
Dr Tim Regan
Research SDE
Socio-Digital Systems Group
Microsoft Research

Contact Info

post:Tim Regan
7 JJ Thomson Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 OFB.
phone:+44 1223 479831
fax:+44 1223 479999


I work in Microsoft Research at their lab in Cambridge in the Socio-Digital Systems Group. My current research interests are social software and mobile media. Before Cambridge I worked in the Social Computing Group in Redmond on aspects of shoulder to shoulder computing - that is building applications for several users to interact with together in the same room. Before that I worked on online virtual worlds, systems architecture, and formal methods. I hold a doctorate in Theoretical Computer Science from The University of Sussex.

I've started keeping a blog:; and I try to keep my flickr photostream and bookmarks fairly up-to-date.


BubbleBoard: A visual family answerphone for the kitchen (Microsoft, 2006)
BubbleBoard is part of the New Genres of Communication and Situating technology in the home themes we've been working on in the group, and I've been helping to build the software side. We've used internet voicemail to glean the voicemeails. I'm particularly excited by how we've split the work on the client between the designer (Richard Banks) working in Flash and me writing the code in ASP.Net running under IIS on the client. Hopfully we've got the split right and any design changes that come up during research trials will not impact the logic code. We'll see.

Grab and Share: Using mobile phones to capture, show, and share clips from live broadcast TV (Microsoft, 2006)
Working with broadcasters we've been looking at the relationship between broadcast TV and mobile video. We are initially contentrating on a prototype implemented on GPRS/UMTS (and later DAB-IP and DVB-H I hope) that allows users to take clips from broadcast TV onto their mobile phones where they can show them to friends and share them with friends.

CODII: Combatting the onlone dissemination of illegal images (Microsoft, 2005)
This project grows from a working relationship with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF are the charity who run the UK hotline that helps identify illegal online images in order for them to be removed, especial images of child abuse. The IWF is one of a number of hotlines affiliated to the international association INHOPE. Our approach is to take an understanding of the area gleaned from working with the IWF, and combine it with a technological and social science understanding of online community systems. This combination helps us to build novel and useful tools.

zCast: Datacasting IP media to fixed and mobile devices (Microsoft, 2004)
The zCast project explores the potential of datacasting to provide novel services to the Media Center PC and to mobile devices. With Arqiva we built up the technological infrastructure to do DAB and DVB-T trials across Cambridge. In research we concentrated on the mobile scenarios by building prototypes that utilised the DAB digital radio network to deliver extended radio and broadcast TV to mobile devices. This work is ongoing.

Media Center Buddies: using multiple instant messaging sessions over TV viewing (Microsoft, 2003)
Media Center Buddies looked at the problem of associating instant messaging with TV viewing. I tackled two elements of this scenario. Firstly how can you design a system that takes into account the fact that TV viewing is often not solitary, several friends or family members may all watch together. Secondly how do you have access to incoming instant messages from the distance of your couch but without distracting from the TV broadcast. This research was picked up by the Media Center Team and became their IM integration.

Bumping Windows: automatic movement of windows accross multiple monitors (Microsoft, 2002)
Window bumping is a technique to automatically move a window, typically from one screen on a multi-monitor system to another. I prototyped three versions of bumping and tested them in the lab on two windows layout tasks. This was part of the ongoing work in Microsoft Research�s VIBE team to improve how PCs handle multiple-monitors, large screens, or heterogeneous displays.

Visual Decision Maker: movie recommendations for co-located users (Microsoft, 2002)
The Visual Decision Maker is an application that gives movie recommendations to groups of people sitting together. The VDM provides a TV like user experience: a stream of movie stills flows towards the center of the screen, and users press buttons on remote controls to vote on the currently selected movie. A collaborative filtering engine provides recommendations for each user and for the group as a whole based on the votes. Three principles guided our design of the VDM: shared focus, dynamic pacing, and encouraging conversations. We did a four month public installation and a lab study to see how these design choices affected people�s usage and people�s experience of the VDM. Our results show that shared focus is important for users to feel that the group�s tastes are represented in the recommendations. This was joint work with Steven Drucker, Markus Lofstrom, and Asta Glatzer.

Enhanced UI Feedback: shared focus in a puzzle solving task (Microsoft, 2001)
To examine the impacts of enhanced UI feedback on shoulder-to-shoulder computing, we conducted a study using a simple picture puzzle on a computer with one display, two mice, and one keyboard. After adding sound, color differentiation, status indicators, and a graphical history, the accuracy with which subjects reported the actions of the person sitting next to them increased significantly. Participants also took more time to complete the puzzle. Subjects shared the keyboard more when using the enhanced UI. We also found participants sitting to the left of the screen to be considerably more productive across both UIs. This was joint work with Markus Lofstrom.

Allegiances and Fellowships in Asheron's Call: studying group interaction and social features in online gaming (Microsoft, 2001)
The aim of this study was to investigate how group membership in an online game affects online and offline social interaction. Our main questions were:
1. Do people in online groups socialize more online and offline than people not in groups?
2. Do people in online groups have a different attitude towards bad behavior online?
We surveyed Asheron�s Call users and logged online game observations to compare the subjective reports with objective measures. The results indicate that group members interact with other players online and offline more than non-group members, and that group members have a different attitude towards bad behavior online than non-group members. This was joint work with Ann-Sofie Axellsson.

Communications Toolbar: a lightweight toolbar giving users access to information and communications features (BT, 2000)
The comms toolbar sought to be a permanent minimal presence on user�s desktops for handling communications and other appropriate information. Through news tickers, calendar and email integration, and telephony handling the comms toolbar was to offer a compact alternative to many portal offerings, with the benefit of providing cheaper telephony. I was the delivery manager of the comms toolbar through its prototype and design phase. It was eventually released as part of the BT Openworld home-page. Work with Mark Jessop, Phil Smythe, and Alison Wilard.

Ages of Avatar: an Inhabited TV experiment providing an online space for the viewers of a TV channel (BT, 1999)
Ages of Avatar took a TV channel, Sky's [.tv], and gave its audience an online home: four virtual worlds filled with activities, events, and an unfolding narrative which could then provide content for interstituals on the TV channel. I ran the BT team doing the world design, building, and hosting of the worlds. This was a collaboration between BT's Shared Spaces team, the production company Illuminations, Sky's [.tv], students from ITP, and Microsoft's vworlds team.

Heaven and Hell Live: an Inhabited TV experiment to produce live, nationally broadcast, TV from within an online virtual world (BT, 1998)
I ran the BT team for their second experiment into Inhabited TV, this time broadcasting a live TV show from an online virtual world. "Heaven and Hell - Live" was an hour long quiz show where the celebrity contestents needed the collaboration of the inhabitants of the virtual world to successfully complete each quiz round. The show attracted 150 online inhabitants and approximately 200,000 viewers. This was a collaboration between BT's Shared Spaces team, the production company Illuminations, Channel 4, and Sony's Community Place team.

The Mirror: an Inhabited TV experiment combining each show in a TV series with an online shared 3D world (BT, 1997)
I was initially a developer and then the manager of BT's first experiment into Inhabited TV, which took the BBC series "The Net" and combined it with six virtual worlds, each adopting the theme of one programme in the series. The worlds were then offered to the viewers of the series, giving them the chance to become inhabitants, with their activities reflected back as news items in the TV shows. Over 1100 viewers took part over a seven week period. This was a collaboration between BT's Shared Spaces team, the production company Illuminations, the BBC's Multimedia Centre, and Sony's Community Place team.


Richard Harper R., Tim Regan T., & Mark Rouncefield M. (2006): "Taking Hold of TV: Learning From the Literature". OzCHI 2006.
Axelsson, A-S. & Regan, T. (2006): "Playing online". In P. Vorderer & J. Bryant (Eds.) "Playing video games � Motives, responses, and consequences" L. Erlbaum Associates Jan 2006
Regan, T. & Todd, I. (2004): "Media center buddies: instant messaging around a media center". Proceedings of the third Nordic conference on Human-computer interaction 2004.
Czerwinski M., Smith G., Regan T., Meyers B., Robertson G., & Starkweather G. (2003): "Toward Characterizing the Productivity Benefits of Very Large Displays". INTERACT'03
Regan, T. (2003): "Synchronous Use of Paper by Co-Located Friends". Microsoft Research tech report MSR-TR-2003-14
Regan, T., Czerwinski, M., Meyers, B., & Smith, G. (2003): "Bumping Windows between Monitors". Microsoft Research tech report MSR-TR-2003-13
Drucker, S., Regan, T., Lofstrom, M., & Glatzer, A. (2002): �The Visual Decision Maker � A Movie Recommender for Co-Located Users�. Microsoft Research tech report MSR-TR-2002-77
Axelsson, A-S. & Regan, T. (2002): �How Belonging to an Online Group Affects Social Behavior - A Case Study of Asheron's Call�. Microsoft Research tech report MSR-TR-2002-07
Regan, T., Lofstrom, M., & Davis, J. (2002): �Impacts of Enhanced UI Feedback on Shoulder to Shoulder Computing�. Microsoft Research tech report MSR-TR-2002-04
Chesley, H., Kelly, S., Kimberly, G., & Regan, T. (2001): �Raven: Extending HTML for Peer-to-peer Synchronous Applications�. Microsoft Research tech report MSR-TR-2001-75
Benford, S., Greenhalgh, C., Craven, M., Walker, G., Regan, T., Morphett, J., & Wyver, J (2000): �Inhabited television: broadcasting interaction from within collaborative virtual environments�. TOCHI 7(4): 510-547
Craven, M., Benford, S., Greenhalgh, C., Wyver, J., Brazier, C-J., Oldroyd, A., & Regan, T. (2000): �Ages of avatar: community building for inhabited television�. Proceedings of the third international conference on Collaborative Virtual Environments 2000.
Best, A., Pesce, M., & Regan, T. (1999): �The Inhuman relationship - Bots, Avatars and Narrative within Virtual Worlds�, panel VRML99 Paderborn, Germany
Benford, S., Greenhalgh, C., Craven, M., Walker, G., Regan, T., Morphett, J., Wyver, J., & Bowers, J. (1999): �Broadcasting on-line social interaction as inhabited television�. ECSCW 1999: 179
Regan, T. (1998): �Taking Living Worlds into People's Living Rooms�. VRML 1998: 71-76
Regan, T. & Hennessy, M. (1995): �A Process Algebra for Timed Systems�. Information and Computation 117(2): 221-239
Ghassemzadeh, A. & Regan, T. (1994): �The Synchronous Interaction Policy Server� British Telecom Journal of Technology
Regan, T. (1993): �Multimedia in Temporal LOTOS: A Lip-Synchronization Algorithm�. PSTV 1993: 127-142
Regan, T. (1992): �Process Algebra for Timed Systems� Doctoral Thesis, Cognitive and Computing Sciences, University of Sussex
Regan, T. & Hennessy, M. (1990): �A Temporal Process Algebra�. FORTE 1990: 33-48


Outside work I am treasurer of the Little Owl Pre-School in the local village of Dry Drayton, and love discussing the Harry Potter series in online fora like Harry Potter for Grownups.