Team Members

Dr. Alan Blackwell is a Lecturer in the Computer Laboratory, specialising in Human-Computer Interaction, and a director of the Crucible network for research in interdisciplinary design. His PhD in cognitive psychology investigated the use of metaphor to structure graphical information displays. In 1989 he completed a Master's degree by research, investigating qualitative models of spatial reasoning. He has had 12 years relevant commercial experience, designing programmable products for novice computer users. This has included both user interfaces for special user populations (such as London Underground drivers, telephone operators and assembly line workers) and development of special purpose programming languages (a graphical language for defining the behaviour of industrial plants, a scripting language for dynamic machine control, a language for specifying real-time fault diagnosis, and an environment for producing reusable object-oriented code). He convenes workshops and conferences on Thinking with Diagrams, has edited a book on that topic, and serves on programme committees for meetings of the Psychology of Programming Interest Group and the IEEE Symposia on Human Centric Computing.

Dr. Peter Robinson is a Reader in Information Technology with research interests in the general area of applied computer science. The main focus for this is human-computer interaction, where he has been leading work for some years on the use of video and paper as part of the user interface. He also works on electronic design automation and, in particular, on support for asynchronous circuits, parallel algorithms for CAD and design management. This has stimulated supporting work on programming environments, computer-supported co-operative work and mobile computing. He supervises 7 research students working on allied topics. He is also Feature Editor of the Computer Journal and is on the programme committees of several conferences.

Dr. Kerry Rodden has recently left the Vital Signs project to work on a commercially funded project with Crucible, for Microsoft Research. Her specialist interest is in user interaction with multimedia information retrieval systems, with a particular focus on assessing the usefulness of content-based image retrieval techniques, as well as relevance feedback, and collaborative filtering. Her work was partially funded by AT&T Laboratories Cambridge, where she collaborated with the DART multimedia information retrieval group. She spent two summers in Switzerland, firstly in 1994 as a Summer Student on a WWW project at CERN, Geneva, and then in 1997 as an intern with Matthew Chalmers in the HCI group at UBS Ubilab, Zurich. She has a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Hanna Wallach is currently taking an MSc in Cognitive Science at Edinburgh University, and will hopefully return to Cambridge in the near future to continue work on issues related to Vital Signs.

There are several vacancies for research assistants and students on areas related to this project. Contact Alan Blackwell for further details.

The Rainbow Graphics Group in the Computer Laboratory has been a centre for research in computer graphics, human-computer interaction, electronic publishing and applications for over 30 years. Contributions have ranged from display hardware through algorithms to applications in computer-aided design and animation. The Rainbow display won a BCS award in 1985. Recent work has included video user interfaces, multi-level modelling for control of detail and the Cambridge autostereo display, which is now being exploited commercially.

A related project in the Rainbow Graphics Group is the Animated Paper Documents project which has been running since January 1997. This has investigated and implemented ways of using digitised video from television cameras in user interfaces for computer systems. The DigitalDesk is built around an ordinary physical desk and can be used as such, but it has extra capabilities. A video camera mounted above the desk, pointing down at the work surface, is used to detect where the user is pointing and to read documents that are placed on the desk. A computer-driven projector is also mounted above the desk, allowing the system to project electronic objects onto the work surface and onto real paper documents. In particular, the technology has been applied to electronic publishing. Electronic and printed documents are combined to give a richer presentation than that afforded by either separate medium.

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