Computer Laboratory

Course pages 2013–14

Innovative User Interfaces

Principal lecturer: Prof Peter Robinson
Taken by: MPhil ACS, Part III
Code: R03
Hours: 16 (8 × two-hour seminar sessions)
Class limit: 15 students
Prerequisites: An undergraduate course in human-computer interaction


This module aims to provide a review of innovative user interfaces.


  • Early inspiration
  • Windows, icons, mice and pointing
  • Video user interfaces
  • Direct manipulation
  • The disappearing computer
  • Special purposes
  • Affective computing
  • Emotional inference


On completion of this module students should:

  • understand the development of user interfaces throughout the history of computing, and
  • be aware of recent research directions.


Participants will be expected to undertake three hours of preparatory work before each meeting. This will involve:

  • Reading the three papers scheduled for consideration that week.
  • Following up references, subsequent citations and other related work.

Every week, three participants will each introduce one of the papers being considered. This will involve giving a 20 minute presentation as if reporting the work at a conference, followed by 10 minutes of questions and discussion.

Participants will also write two essays. These should take the theme from one of the weeks' reading and present a couple of more recent papers building on the work that were not discussed at the reading group.


  • Attendance and general contribution to meetings: 8 weeks x 2.5 marks = 20%
  • Individual presentations to group: 2 presentations x 20 marks = 40%
  • Review essays: 2 x 2,000-word essays each worth 20 marks = 40%

Review essays should be submitted to the Graduate Education Office by 12:00 noon on Friday 29 November 2013 and Friday 17 January 2014.

Recommended reading

Before starting the course, students must be familiar with the standard literature on HCI such as:
Newman, William & Lamming, Mik (1995). Interactive system design. Addison-Wesley.

Preliminary reading:

Students intending to take the course should read the following before the beginning of term:
Norman, Donald (1988). The psychology of everyday things. Basic Books.
Weiser, Mark (1991). The computer for the 21st century. In Scientific American, September 1991.
Reprinted in Mobile computing and communications review, July 1999.
The intuitive beauty of computer-human interaction Communications of the ACM 43(3), March 2000.

Class limit: 12 students