In the Interaction Design and Human Practice Lab, our core belief is that information and communication technologies need to be useful, usable and always designed, developed and implemented to maximise human agency and benefit. Our interest is more on understanding how humans solve problems with the support of technology, than on how technology solves problems, real or assumed, for humans.

Nowadays, information and communications technologies are used not just in the workplace but increasingly in other social environments and for activities other than work. The social role of telecommunications is growing and the technology available to us is increasingly designed to both augment and be hosted by the human body as people move through their environment carrying their potential connectivity to the networked environment with them.

Current projects share a focus on the development of methods, tools, processes, and theoretical perspectives that enhance the usability and usefulness of existing and emerging information and communications technology. In particular, we are interested in design practices that recognise issues of use, including social and ethical issues, emerging from developments in mobile and ubiquitous computing.

Developing projects
IDHuP researchers are interested in developing further research projects in areas that include:

  • The design and use of interactive technologies and interaction styles where movements of the human body are direct input into the system
  • The design and use of interaction and communication technologies to support work practices in healthcare and the delivery of health services
  • The design and use of mobile and social technologies in developing countries and communities
  • The extension of human-centred – especially participatory – design approaches into novel, complex and or emerging areas of technology design and use. This includes the development of new design tools methods and techniques and the extension of existing ones.

Current Projects:
A R C   D I S C O V E R Y   P R O J E C T   DP110101999
Sociophysical Interactions: Understanding the role of social and tangible technologies in maintaining good habits into old age.
Chief Investigators: Frank Vetere (University of Melbourne), Toni Robertson, Margot Brereton (Queensland University of Technology), Steve Howard (University of Melbourne) and Yvonne Rogers (University College London, PI); PhD Student: Jeannette Durick.
 Sociophysical interactions are made possible when the tangible interactions, offered by mobile and embedded technologies, are combined with the opportunities for social engagement offered by social technologies. This project will develop theoretical groundings, exemplar prototypes and methodological insights into the design and use of these technologies through engagement with an issue that reflects the social complexities and bodily challenges of modern living. Specifically, the project investigates the opportunities offered by sociophysical technologies to maintain (even enhance) people’s capacities to continue to act as vital, engaged and independent human beings as they move into old age.

A R C   L I N K A G E   P R O J E C T   LP100200435
Remaking practices: learning to meet the challenge of practice change in primary health care.
Chief Investigators: Nicky Solomon, Alison Lee, Toni Robertson, Jill Thistlewaite. Project Partner: NSW Health.
Summary: the project investigates the remaking of professional practices in new models of health care. It will study and theorise the place of learning and technologies in these new practices. Its methodology is framed by understandings of the close relationship of work, learning and change, together with a commitment to participative research methods. It uses an approach that accounts for the relationship between humans and their environment within professional practice. Outcomes will benefit the design and delivery of primary health care initiatives within the specific environment of the HealthOne program (NSW Health) and in other settings where similar major changes in professional practice are occurring.

Major Completed Projects:
We have collaborated with the ICT Lab of CSIRO on two projects:
ECHONET (Echo Cardiographic Healthcare Online Networking Expertise in Tasmania) is a high bandwidth, purpose built telemedicine system built by CSIRO. IDHuP expertise in human-centred design and evaluation was used in this project.
The Multidisciplinary Team Meeting (MDTM) project was part of the Braccetto Project that also included NICTA and the DSTO. It sought to develop an enhanced collaboration platform to support distributed multidisciplinary team meetings between health care professionals from two hospitals in a large public and teaching hospital and a smaller private hospital. IDHuP expertise was used in the early work practice studies for this project.

An empirical framework for designing usable and useful wireless mobile computing applications.
Chief Investigators: Toni Robertson, Christopher Lueg; PhD Student: Kirsten Sadler
Summary: The technological challenges posed by mobile computing devices have taken priority over the issues of appropriate use and usability that will ultimately determine their success in real work environments. This project investigates these issues, particularly the role played by the context of use in the usability and usefulness of mobile applications. The project’s aims will be realised through ethnographic studies of mobile work practice, representative use scenarios and the development of an empirically grounded conceptual framework that can guide the design of usable mobile applications. The results will increase the successful utilisation of mobile technology by Australian industries.

The BYSTANDER FIELD: immersive ‘feedback’ environments for exhibiting and dramatically interacting with semiotic, aesthetic and emotional patterns in archived imagery.
Chief Investigators: Ross Gibson, Toni Robertson
Project participants: Tim Mansfield, Lian Loke, Kate Richards (project manager)
Summary: The BYSTANDER FIELD investigates new systems for interactive and immersive display of contentious stories ‘poised’ in imagery from heritage collections. It aims to stimulate unprecedented understanding of narrative and affective patterns in our past. The research method is iterative: critique of extant literature and designs; critique of extant hardware and software; conceptual design; repeated, rapid prototyping creating feedback to cause evolving conceptual design and test-exhibit; final critique and report on knowledge generated. The outcomes will be theoretical and practical: reports encompassing new knowledge; audience-tested display systems which are scaleable and applicable to several museological and architectural scenarios.

Understanding Quality of Experience in Experience Enriched (Next Generation) NetworksTM
Project leader: Toni Robertson
Project participants: John Leaney, Melanie Kan, Jackie Soliman, Kirsten Sadler

Summary: This project aims to understand what ‘quality of experience’ could mean in future networked environments and how such quality of experience relates to the design of networks and related technology and services. This project will provide Alcatel and its partners with the means to:

  • reflect on the possible contexts where their products and services may be used, why they may be used, what they can be used for and who might use them;
  • learn the lessons offered by an understanding of the history of acceptance, success and failure of similar kinds of new information technologies in the past;
  • decrease the risks of developing inappropriate products and services;
  • increase the likelihood that their new products and services will fit readily and easily into the already existing environments that are given constraints in the introduction of any new technologies.

The Interaction Design and Human Practice Lab (IDHuP) is part of the Centre for Human Centred Technology Design Research (HCTD) at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS)