Monday, May 20, 2019

Thank you!

The Digital Disruption event was a great success! Over 200 delegates had registered, and enjoyed the posters, panels and talks. Lindsay Courtney and Gareth Crinnion of Home Group gave an engaging opening keynote about how they collaborate with Northumbria University to developed new technologies for independent living. The People Power panel talked about how to meet the challenges of digital design, and the Immersive panel promised a bright future for the industry in the North East. Finally, closing keynote speaker Elizabeth Churchill of Google gave a fascinating account of the role of research in the development of Google's Material Design System. During the day, Northumbria Researchers and partners met with visitors to showcase their research in the poster exhibition. Remember that the exhibition will be up until May 31 if you want to have a look!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Research exhibition is going up!

We are in the middle of setting up the Digital Disruption research poster exhibition at the Northumbria School of Design! The exhibition opens on May 17 and will be available to see in the Design building foyer until May 31.

Justine Carrion-Weiss and Freddie Gibbons are Innovators in Residence at the Multidisciplinary Innovation MA/MSc program at Northumbria University. They designed all the graphics and logotype for the Digital Disruption website. Together with the research contributors, they also created the impressive Digital Disruption research exhibition!

If you are coming to the Digital Disruption, be sure to look around and talk to all the researchers about their work. Even if you can't make it for the opening you still have two weeks to check it out!

Below are some pictures from the preparations. Be ready for the full reveal tomorrow...

Digital Disruption keynote: Disrupting Design - The Evolution of Google’s Material Design

Register for the event here!

At the Digital Disruption event on May 17, we are very fortunate to have Dr. Elizabeth Churchill, Director User Experience at Google, give the closing keynote.

In her keynote Disrupting Design: The Evolution of Google’s Material Design, Elizabeth will talk about how she built and directed interdisciplinary research initiatives to improve the utility and usability of various Google tools and frameworks. These include Google's open-source backed Material Design, an adaptable system of guidelines, components, and tools that support the best practices of user interface design, and Flutter, Google’s portable UI toolkit for building beautiful, native applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase.

Elizabeth Churchill is a Director of User Experience at Google, the Executive Vice President of the Association of Computing Machinery, a member of the ACM's CHI Academy, and an ACM Distinguished Scientist and Distinguished Speaker. With a background in psychology (neuro, experimental, cognitive and social), Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, for the past 20+ years she has drawn on social, computer, engineering and data sciences to create innovative end-user applications and services. She has built research teams at Google, eBay, Yahoo, PARC and FujiXerox. She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, an honorary Doctor of Science (DSc.) from the University of Sussex, and in September will be awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Stockholm. In 2016 she received a Citris-Banatao Institute Award Athena Award for Women in Technology for her Executive Leadership.

About her research, Elizabeth says: “I am an applied social scientist, interactive technology designer and social communications researcher. I have a background in psychology (neuro, experimental, cognitive and social), Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science. For the past 18 years I have drawn on social, computer, engineering and data sciences to create innovative end-user applications and services. For the past few years, I have been most active in the areas of ubiquitous and mobile computing, social media, computer mediated communication, locative media and Internet/Web sciences. During this time, I have designed and evaluated enterprise and consumer-facing information/communication applications and services for desktop, mobile, tablet and large screen devices. I have also worked on infrastructure design for collaborative workflow systems and for Internet-based applications and services. Having worked in the UK, the US, and Asia, I am particularly interested in understanding how technical, cultural and social factors affect the ways in which people do (or dot not) communicate and collaborate.”

To learn more about Elizabeth Churchill and her work, visit her homepage!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Digital Disruption: Research posters

The Digital Disruption event is just around the corner!
Visit the Evenbrite page for the full list of talks and panels.
We also have more than a dozen exciting research posters that celebrate collaborative projects between Northumbria and partners! Here is the full list...

Revitalising Newcastle's Bigg Market through public digital installations  
Franz Pancho, Carine Chang Shi Qian, Ethan John Stewart, Josh Humphreys, Andrew Richardson, Lars Erik Holmquist
From September 2018 to January 2019, 16 final year students enrolled on the BA (Hons) Interaction Design program worked with NE1, an international award winning Business Improvement District company, on a live brief for the Bigg Market Regeneration Project. This £3.2 million project, that includes £1.6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will transform the historic Bigg Market area of Newcastle, restore its historic significance and ensure that it is making its rightful contribution to the city’s economic fortunes now and into the future.
The students were asked to conceive and design digital installations that would build on and celebrate the history and heritage of the Bigg Market. The student developed the concepts using a variety of methods, including exploration of suitable technology, ethnographic studies, personas and user scenarios, and brainstorming using extreme characters and other techniques. To communicate their ideas, the students produced design documents, videos, images and even fully working prototypes, as well as realistic budgets and time plans. In total, there were 8 concepts proposed by the students and presented to NE1. 
One concept was the Virtual Hologram Box, VOX, by Franz Pancho and Carine Chang Shi Qian. The aim was to bring the users back in time to experience and also reminisce what the Bigg Market used to be, for instance by showing animals from the Winter Zoo. The final design was based on Victorian lamp post design, mixing the old and new in one form factor. Another concept was Hear the Bigg Market by Ethan John Stewart and Josh Humphreys. It is unobtrusive and immersive way to explore the historic environment of the Bigg Market using Audio Spotlight technology to engage users.

VERS: A Virtual Embodied Receptionist        
Sam Nemeth, Lars Erik Holmquist      
Partner: PROTO The Emerging Technologies Centre
To evaluate the use of embodied tangible interaction we designed a bespoke telepresence system for the reception desk of the new PROTO emerging technology lab in Gateshead, UK. This system facilitates the monitoring and servicing of the PROTO reception desk from another location, at the moment an adjacent office building, the Baltimore House. The PROTO lab is an incubator for the creative industry with a variety of activities. This implies that the reception desk is a vital part of the organisation with a number of typical user scenarios. In our study, the actual user group of the system played an important role, in the design process as well as in the evaluation of the working system. With this study we hope to provide a new impulse to the TUI paradigm, advocating simple, embodied solutions for computer systems, in the tradition of for instance Mark Weiser’s Calm Technology and Ubiquitous Computing.        

EPHEMERA: Interactive dance performance
Steve Gibson, Craig Green, Solomon Lennox  
Partner:Northern Dance
Northumbria University is collaborating with Northern Dance to develop a new project in which all media will be controlled by the movements of a single performer in real-time.
Northern Dance is leading a collaborative team combining art, technology and movement, to create a project Ephemera that showcases the Gesture and Media System (GAMS) tracking system, created by Moment Research. 
This project is developing an interface that will allow users to interact with audio, video, lighting and Visual FX in real-time and will do so in a non-linear manner (i.e. allowing for different user experiences) without sacrificing rendering or playback quality. The project is genuinely multi-disciplinary involving interaction design, dance, animation and Visual FX, and fine art. The key technological innovation is enabled by the development of the GAMS motion-tracking system. In brief, this system uses infrared trackers (four are possible in the current configuration) and infrared cameras to track users in a space measuring up to 15x15 metres. A GUI-based software can be used to design space so that sound, video, animation, lights and Visual FX can be accessed at different spots in the room and manipulated by the movements of the user. 
A video documenting the initial results of the collaboration can be seen here: 

INTUIT: Interaction Design for Trusted Sharing of Personal Health Data to Live Well with HIV
Abigail Durrant (PI), Lynne Coventry (Co-I), Elizabeth Sillence (Co-I), Caroline Claisse, Kiersten Hay
Partners:City, University of London; University of Bristol; University of Edinburgh; Public Health England; NAT (National AIDS Trust); Terrence Higgins Trust; Microsoft Research; Central North West London NHS Trust; Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Yoti; The HIV Treatment Advocates Network (UK-CAB); INTEROPen; University College London (UCL)
The value of using personal data, collected by individuals, for improving healthcare provision and the self-management of long-term conditions (LTCs) is increasingly recognised by healthcare providers and citizens. However, the communication of these data – and the inferences made about ‘health’ and ‘lifestyle’, are inextricably linked to concerns for managing trust, identity, privacy, and security (TIPS). Data sharing presents issues around personal privacy breaches, stigmatisation and discrimination.
Through effective treatment, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has been transformed to a LTC with normal life expectancy, but remains highly stigmatised. The interdisciplinary INTUIT project seeks to identify and address fundamental TIPS challenges faced by those living with HIV in sharing self-generated data with care services, peer support networks, and private organisations.  The project is led by Northumbria School of Design, in partnership with four other UK Universities and a number of partnering organisations. New digital tools are being developed to provide people with opportunity and choice for managing the trusted sharing of these with others. We envision innovative service propositions grounded in a new empirical understanding.
Our co-creative and inclusive design approach engages non-academic partners and stakeholders in defining, conducting, and analysing the research. This includes: the HIV peer community and their advocates; academic clinicians; public health surveillance experts; and commercial and not-for-profit innovators in healthcare and identity management. The project ensures that insights have transferability to other contexts including managing mental and sexual health conditions. The research informs ethically responsible digital innovation strategies for healthcare provision to enable all citizens to live and age well in society.

Designing Better Money        
Belen Barros Pena, Lars Erik Holmquist, John Vines, Rachel Clarke   
Partner:Santander UK
This PhD research, in partnership with Santander UK, explores the design of future money for our ageing population. Our money is migrating to the digital world very fast, a move that is being encouraged by both public institutions and private companies, while leaving behind a significant part of the population. As part of the money digitation process, cash and other physical payment artifacts are often represented as old-fashioned, dangerous, inconvenient and somehow suspicious. However, physical forms of money have qualities worth preserving. Research suggests physical money can help us spend less, do so more thoughtfully, keep better track of our finances, and limit our exposure to fraud and financial abuse. In collaboration with older adults, who have accumulated a life’s worth of experience using physical money, our research aims to identify and incorporate the strengths of physical forms of money into the digital kind, improving financial inclusion in the process.    

Designing and Evaluating BIM Futures for public consultation in urban planning             
Megan Doherty, Kay Rogage, David Kirk        
Partner:Place Changers Ltd.
This collaborative PhD research, with Place Changers Ltd, aims to design and evaluate new participatory planning tools which incorporate geographical mapping and Building Information Model (BIM) data, to support better public engagement in urban planning. 
Currently the UK’s planning system is an amalgamation of strict policies and guidelines required for the consideration of construction projects. Local planning authorities oversee adherence to this strict legislation before approving projects.
One of the biggest challenges for developers, communities and decision makers in developing new urban designs, is to ensure that public engagement is undertaken in a meaningful way. 
The requirement to perform public engagement; a consultation phase addressing the public in the fundamentals of the project and its effect on the environment can be carried out in different ways. However, traditional methods used within the consultation phase are arguably becoming less adequate for reaching the public and thus more ineffective for recording practical information. 
Currently there is no connection between BIM and processes of public engagement in planning. Considering the richness of data that BIM provides and the value of public engagement, combining these two elements could arguably benefit the planning process. 
Place Changers Ltd will be working with researchers to use participatory design techniques to develop more in-depth insight into the planning process and the digital tools that support it. This PhD will include collaborative insights from those within the built environment industry, developing a qualitative understanding and a reflective critique on the current methods of public consultation within the planning process.

Playing out with IoT   
Thomas Dylan, Gavin Wood, Shaun Lawson, Abigail Durrant, John Vines    
Partners:University College London (UCL), KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Canterbury Christ Church University, Playing Out CIC Bristol, Cedarwood Trust, North Shields, England, SAM Labs
Playing Out with IoT is an innovative ESPRC-funded research project exploring how Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can be developed and extended to enable children under 9 years old to create digital outside play in their own neighbourhoods. The project responds to concerns that fewer and fewer children are playing outdoors, which is having an impact on health, well-being, personal and social development.
Our research outputs explore possible roles for IoT in outdoor play. We are investigating this by running design workshops where we create and play with the digital technologies made with children. We are using these to evidence how IoT is able to engage children meaningfully and creatively through evaluation of the resulting designs. Throughout the project, we are working with and responding to children in local communities so we can align our designs as closely as possible with their own play interests. Relatedly, we are opening up our designs through a range of Instructables that will allow children and parents to create and use some of our IoT play inventions. We aim to make our work as accessible as possible by using off the shelf IoT devices alongside our own kits and guides that make use of commonly available materials and even "found objects".

Bringing Life to Bowes through 360 Degree Fashion Film               
Gayle Cantrell, Kyra Jewitt     
The Bowes Museum’s Fashion and Textile Gallery was designed to be “spectacular by presenting textiles in an exciting way”, promoting wider access and public appreciation of the collection through new ways of presentation and interpretation. Objects are presented accurately and in context, encouraging close examination of detail, beauty and technical skill involved in their making. 
We have been continuing the focus on context, materiality and craft through experimentation with 360 degree Fashion Film. Using an ‘organic’ narrative approach, where the visual style and the formal system of the moving image are constructed around clothing (Mijovic, 2013), the resulting film will explore the construction of the garment, its historical and cultural context, and how it is seen on a human form. 
Bowes have recently acquired at auction an outfit designed by Yves Saint Laurent from the private collection of Catherine Deneuve, for whom he designed throughout a 40 year professional collaboration and personal friendship. Deneuve recalled how a “silent complicity, our crazy laughter and our melancholy” bonded her to a man who “only designed clothes to beautify women”.
Fashion is a discipline producing items that are meant to be worn on the body – as suggested by the designers Victor & Rolf, “….we always have mixed feelings when it comes to fashion exhibitions because somehow, life is taken out of the subject.” (Teunissen, 2014). Through the use of 360 Degree film we are given an opportunity to breathe life back into the collections, immersing the viewer in a panoramic vision of the garment’s context and construction. 

Promoting Independence through Technology-Enabled Modular Homes 
Glenda Cook, David Kirk, Lars Erik Holmquist
Partner:Home Group
Home Group is a registered charity that provides health, social care and housing services. These services include a wide range of specialist support and care services for people with complex needs. The aim of these supportive services is to enable individuals to live fulfilled lives. As part of this endeavour Home Group  has developed a modular-home based Innovation Village in Gateshead. Over two years this test village will test modern methods of construction through modular housing builds, using smart technology to monitor their construction and performance.
Housing is an important factor in supporting people with complex needs to be able to live independently in their own home. Hence one home has been made available to Home Group’s ‘New Models of Care’ team for 12 months to test cutting edge smart home technologies that have the potential to support independent living and quality of life.
This is an exciting time when technology is quickly advancing and offering opportunities for individuals to live in homes that care for the householder. There will be three four month testing sprints. Each testing cycle is led by a community of practice to decide what technology will be deployed. In the context of learning disability and/or autism the community of practice has prioritised the following technological applications: promoting independence through self-monitoring of daily routines and patterns of behaviour; prompts to support independent living; building skills to perform everyday tasks that are key to independent living; biometric pattern and behaviour analysis that lead to early recognition of triggers and prompts for PBS interventions; technology that supports communication with others and control of the lived environment. Over the following 8 months the testing cycles will focus on how technology can support older people and people with mental health concerns to achieve their aspirations and live independently in their home.

Explaining the intangible: UX design practice and machine learning          
Leila Hogarth  
Partner:Hedgehog Lab
This PhD will be investigating digital product teams mental models and seeking to uncover how they understand ethical uses of machine learning when using personally identifiable information.
The qualitative study will use reflective interviewing to uncover tacit knowledge (Polanyi) and generative design workshops (Sanders and Stappers) to co-produce models of understanding within UX industry practice.
The project will add to understandings of current industry design practice and how ethical data uses are navigated amongst the constraints of a commercial design environment (Lawson, 2006). 
Examining design practice will also highlight the extent to which designer’s develop reflexive praxis (Crouch and Pearce, 2013) when working with machine intelligent systems. 
Aiming to ‘explain the intangible’, new knowledge will articulate how designers navigate and make visible their understandings of immaterial machine intelligence.
This PhD represents the opportunity to promote and demonstrate transformational multidisciplinary understandings between academia and industry, meeting the objectives of the UK National Productivity and Investment Fund (UK Gov, 2017).

WhatsApp, Misinformation and the Threat for Older Adults          
Santosh Vijaykumar    
Funding body:WhatsApp, Collaborators:University of Georgia, University of Edinburgh, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Health Systems Research India Initiative
In May 2018, following the outbreak of the Nipah virus in South India, WhatsApp played a significant role in the spread of misinformation, which left public health agencies struggling to manage public anxiety. Research on the spread of misinformation has shown that older adults are more vulnerable to misinformation comparted to their younger counterparts. Moreover, these problems can be exacerbated in a context like India where a confluence of cultural, religious and political norms can combine with misleading information resulting in competing narratives of the ‘truth’. Therefore, this project examines the role of WhatsApp as a ‘vector’ for the spread of misinformation among older adults about Infectious Disease Outbreaks (IDOs) in India. Phase 1 of the research will involve formative interviews with key public health stakeholders to understand their experiences of combating misinformation during IDOs. Alongside, lay-person interviews will be conducted with older adults to gain an understanding of the vulnerabilities associated with differentiating between various attributes of misinformation and original information. Drawing insights from Phase 1, a factorial survey experiment will investigate how older adults interact with IDO-related messages, with specific focus on information source (message creator) and information accuracy. We will also examine the influence of peer networks and emotional resonance embedded to the messages.  The project will provide new insights into the kinds of vulnerabilities that older adults grapple with when exposed to viral misinformation on WhatsApp, and in doing so, will present design implications to the WhatsApp platform and digital literacy interventions targeting older adults.
AI + Autonomous Vehicles     
Nick Spencer, Mark Bailey, Neil Smith, Matteo Conti, Lars Erik Holmquist   
Partners:Orange Bus, Urban Foresights, the NWG Innovation Festival 2018, the Great Exhibition of the North, Zero Carbon Futures, Creative Fuse North East
Over the summer of 2018 and for three months, seven students from Northumbria University Multidisciplinary Innovation (MDI) masters programme had been collaborating with the Orange Bus, an innovation design agency based in Newcastle, on the brief ‘Furthering mobility for tomorrow’s society’. 
The aims of this project were; to explore the society’s emerging and evolving relationship with mobility, to understand the role of AI and AV within tomorrow’s society, to identify the pain points of mobility and areas of opportunity, to design a set of ideas, journey scenarios and concepts, augmented by AI and AVs and to recommend a suite of proposals for stakeholders within the mobility space. 
Through this project, the team had been using a set of guiding principles - focussing on the use of space, the use of time and the use of wellbeing - and the different talking point within AI - privacy, trust, coding, decision-making - as stimuli. As a result, 12 value spaces and 60+ ideas were generated during the ideation phase of the project. To narrow this down, 6 workshops with stakeholders were held which led to the identification of 2 core value spaces: commuting and emergency services.