Despite the fact that computer systems are created by human beings, designing these systems to work well with human beings is not easy. Most of us who have worked with a computer system - trying to find something on a web page; trying to set the time on a digital watch; trying to get a new device to work with one's home machine - have been frustrated enough to want to pitch the thing out the window.
Human Computer Interaction or HCI is a rich field of research and practical endeavour that combines computer science, psychology, sociology and other disciplines in an effort to understand how to make the interaction between humans and computers better . The IAM group has been contributing to research in HCI from a number of approaches in the field. A few are described below. You are also welcome to follow the project links to fuller descriptions about the work.
Input, Output, Display in New Environments
Part of the study of HCI looks at developing new techniques for interacting with computer systems. These can be new types of displays or ways to input infomation into the computer. Signage, the iGesture project and the Curve Dial work are examples of this kind of study. In iGesture, we look at how we might use gesturing with hands to control systems in one's environment rather than just on the desktop. In curve dial we look at how we might improve scrolling on large displays that use touch rather than keyboards for control.
Representing and Interacting with Information
Some parts of HCI look at how we can present information to people in order to support new ways of exploring information, and the relationships within that data. The mSpace project is an example of that kind of work. In this work, we ask questions like, how do you find something if you don't know what it's called or exactly what it is? You can't use Google because you don't have the words, so what can you do? How solve these kinds of problems?
We are also interested in how to support and represent Trust in an online world. Ghosts is investigating ways that we can represent our interests to larger systems so that they can present information relevant to our interests - without having to know personal details about us. Semantic Trust is a doctoral project looking at how to support trust among online communities where the participants do not know each other.
In each of the above cases, we work tightly with research in innovative systems such as the Semantic Web, in order to develop and design new interactions that will best support our interactions with these new systems.
Requirements Gathering and Design Elicitation
Another part of HCI research endeavors to understand both how people work now with exisiting technology, in order to understand how they might be assisted with new technology (and to understand how that new technology should be designed to support those people in their jobs). The Smart Tea and myTea projects have been doing work in this space. Similarly, some HCI research will introduce new, innovative kinds technologies and interactions into a space and study how these new devices are used, in order to understand how they might be improved. The Equator Project has been leading research in this space.
Methods and Methodology
We are also interested in the practice of HCI itself - the models we use to understand and evaluate how interactions work in new contexts. One of these new contexts is e-Science (how science practice like the running of experiments is going from within the lab to out into the world). In the Smart Tea project, we developed anew HCI method (called "Making Tea") for the study of the kinds of long term, complex interactions that go on in labs.
In the IAM group, as shown in the above overview, we are interested in a range of practices and research questions in HCI. Our focus is largely research to make interaction with computers not just better but empowering.
The links to projects below will take you to overview pages for the projects. From there you can get to the list of publications and specific project sites.