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ABOUT

Human computer interaction (HCI, CHI) is the study of how people use computers with an overlying goal of making computers more useful and usable. Of its very nature HCI is multi-disciplinary drawing on computer science, psychology, sociology and linguistics. As a predominantly computer science HCI group the types of projects we undertake tend to focus on the technology side of HCI. However we often work with or draw on the other HCI disciplines.

HCI, as a computing sub-discipline cannot stand alone. Much of our work is with new hardware or using existing hardware for new purposes. We also frequently draw on artificial intelligence research to make the computer 'smarter'. And of course, underlying most of our projects is code – as a part of the software engineering research group (SERG), we appreciate good software architecture.

The particular areas we are working in at the moment are:

Digital Ink, Beryl Plimmer has been working with digital ink since 1998, she started with a sketch tool for designing Visual basic forms. She has now developed a number of sketch tools with students that explore different aspects of functional support. She is also actively exploring tools to annotate digital documents. Both of these application areas need robust ink recognition engines and she currently has a major project underway in this area.

Eye gaze hardware can accurately detect exactly where on the screen a user is looking. Gerald Weber is using this technology to develop novel interaction support.

Multi-touch displays are an exciting new hardware development that has now penetrated the consumer market. We are exploring how this technology on larger screens can be used to manipulate 3D models. We are also exploring how tangibles can be effectively used on multi-touch displays.

Visually Impaired people face unique challenges when interacting with computers. Hence they pose unique challenges to researchers – solving problems for this user groups usually results in innovative solutions and better interfaces for all. We have worked with VI children on a multi-modal environment for teaching them to write a signature and are currently working on document analysis and enlargement of Microsoft Word documents to provide an elegant solution for those who need to view their documents in larger fonts.