Computing at Leicester

Interaction Design and Evaluation of Socio-technical Systems (IDEAS)

We primarily focus on usability and user experience (UX) methodologies, which can be applied to a broad range of domains. Of particular interest to the IDEAS members are technology-enhanced learning for STEM subjects, gaming and culture, affective computing, and participatory design. IDEAS has been working on several new initiatives in further advancing research on UX, especially on the theme of measurability and predictability of UX, theoretical models underlying UX, and the interplay between UX evaluation and software development.

Find out more about IDEAS on our research pages.

Suggested topics

Affective Intelligent Maps

Supervisor: Genovefa Kefalidou

In crisis management, operators tend to rely on a number of different types of data and artefacts to deliver sensemaking of crises and prompt decision-making for recovery. A particular type of artefact that is commonly used in crisis situations are maps. The present research will investigate the design and implementation of 'affective intelligent maps' that augment and visualise different types of intelligence to assist crisis management operators in different scenarios. The design is going to be socio-cognitively driven and follow a strong user research approach.

Automation and Virtual Environments (VR)

Supervisor: Genovefa Kefalidou

Increased automation levels provide new opportunities for Human-Technology Interactions (HTI) and the design of new interactive interfaces. In physical environments, automation levels tend to be either too conservative or more liberal depending on the application context. The present research will investigate automation levels uptakes within both the physical and virtual environment with an aim to study socio-cognitive behavioural interactions to inform the design of future 'hybrid designs'.

Cognitive Sat-Nav 

Supervisor: Genovefa Kefalidou

Sat-Navs are, nowadays, well-used within vehicles for navigation purposes and are often highly automated for route calibration. This, however, can result to user disatisfaction, especially, when occurring unexpectedly and while 'on-the-go'. The present research will employ a cognitive-driven and goal-directed design to design and develop a 'Cognitive Sat'Nav' that will allow for more efficient (i.e. user-centred) route optimisation and calibration. Distraction issues and error analyses will be also investigated.

Dynamic Adaptation of Workflows

Supervisor: Stephan Reiff-Marganiec

Workflows capture Business Processes, but business is dynamic so their workflows need to adapt. StPowla is an approach to process modelling for service-oriented systems. It has three ingredients: workflows to express core processes, services to perform activities and policies to express variability. Workflows are expressed using a graphical notation. 

Policies can make short-lived changes to a workflow instance, i.e. they last for the duration of the workflow instance and usually will be made during the execution of the instance, rather than applied to the overall workflow model. There are two types of policies: refinement and reconfiguration. Refinement policies specify criteria for the selection of the service that is ultimately chosen and invoked to execute the task at hand, while reconfiguration policies change the structure of the workflow instance by e.g. deleting or adding tasks. This area also covers the study of policy conflict.

Selected References

  • S Gorton, C Montangero, S Reiff-Marganiec and L Semini. StPowla: SOA, Policies and Workflows. WESOA 2007.
  • L Bocchi, S Gorton and S Reiff-Marganiec. Engineering Service Oriented Applications: From StPowla Processes to SRML Models. FACS (Formal Aspects of Computing).

  • See Stephan Reiff-Marganiec's homepage and contact details.

Levels of optimisation in Interaction Design (ID) 

Supervisor: Genovefa Kefalidou

Within Interaction Desigh, we often have 3 major dimensions to consider (though there are more) and these are: text presented on an interface, visuals and physical objects or space. The present research will investigate what are the 'optimal thesholds' of the use of text, visuals and physical space/objects in designing interactive interfaces. A set of case studies will be developed to test different configurations and contexts.

Service Selection

Supervisor: Stephan Reiff-Marganiec

One area of service-oriented computing is concerned with identifying the right service for a user. This is a very active and interesting area and I am specifically interested in how can the best service for a specific user context be selected and how can the overall selection services for a business process be optimized. In the former area we have developed an extension of LSP (Logic Scoring for Preferences) that allows for automatic ranking of single services. An extension of this method for workflows is under consideration, however, for workflows we are also working on an Immune based algorithm for finding the global best.

Selected References

The Synaesthesia Machine 

Supervisor: Genovefa Kefalidou

Synaesthesia is the term describing the perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to experiences in another sensory or cognitive pathway. User Experience (UX) relies on sensory input whether this is visual, aural or tactile. The present research will investigate the role of synaesthesia in both physical and virtual environments (VEs) with an aim to understand UX in 'training' contexts where e.g. Virtual Reality (VR) and VEs are heavily used nowadays. Part of this investigation will involve the development of VR intervention(s) that facilitate 'synaesthetic' interactions to measure human performance in training settings.

Virtual Organisations 

Supervisor: Stephan Reiff-Marganiec

The idea of virtual organisations captured the fact that many smaller organisations can work together in dynamic ways to achieve larger goals that none of them could achieve on their own. We are studying how to model VOs at higher levels of abstraction, but in ways that will ultimately allow to reason about their behaviour. A future aspect of this work would be the consideration of a run-time platform to enable the operation of VOs.


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