Research

My research interests are in the fields of HCI, CSCW, UbiComp and Design. My projects generally combine three aspects: User Research and Ethnography; Co-Design; and in-situ Field Trials. The following is a list of my ongoing research projects:

Fostering DIY and ‘Making’ in Disadvantaged Communities (2016- now)

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Contrary to known stereotypes, people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds often demonstrate resourceful and creative behaviors that can be molded towards entrepreneurship and employment generating opportunities. The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and makerspace movements have shown the potential for high-tech innovation, democratizing production and creativity, and revamping of economies and broken educational systems. However, within HCI, the focus has mainly been on more affluent and technology-savvy population. HCI lacks the narrative on how DIY and making practices are associated with economically disadvantaged members of the community. In particular, the role of innovation hubs such as makerspaces and community-based social enterprises in uplifting the economically disadvantaged needs to be thoroughly investigated. Initial efforts in this domain have shown that Makerspaces have the potential in supporting effective STEM education, presenting an opportunity to bring traditionally underrepresented groups into STEM fields.

In collaboration with makerspaces that involve economically disadvantaged members of the community and job seekers, this project aims to investigate DIY and making practices of LSE members and develop a counter-narrative on makerspaces and its inclusiveness.

Designing for Marginalized Populations (2015- now)

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In collaboration with non-profit community care centers and social enterprises. I have several ongoing projects that deal with designing for the different marginalized population. These include supporting economically struggling familieswomen in crisis situations, refugees and asylum seekers and older adults. We have used semi-structured interviews, field visits to community centers; organized co-design workshops and used cultural probes based methods; and designed inclusive technologies that enable peer-to-peer exchanges between these population.

Human-Money Interaction (2014-now)

Money.PNG

How do we/families coordinate and manage money? What kind of role HCI can play in this domain? I aim to develop a new research agenda which focuses on the potential of money in connecting communities, bringing families together, supporting the under-banked population in the developing countries and how technology can be designed to improve current practices. I have several ongoing projects under this program – focusing both on the developed as well as developing country’s point of view.

In a set of contextual interviews, we studied how Australian families manage household finance. We are also exploring household financial practices in the Sri Lankan and Indian contexts.

Quantified Self & Activity Tracking (2012-now)

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Within the research topics of Quantified Self (QS) and Activity Tracking, I have been focusing on supporting engaging social experiences for users; rather than on behavior change. A set of Android-based applications is developed in workplace settings to support activity tracking and fitness promotion. The aim is to enable employees to interweave activity tracking in their everyday routines and enable engaging social interactions in workplaces.

Past Projects (2005 – 2013)

SmarcoS Project (2011-2013)

Picalilly

SmarcoS was an EU project (7th framework). It dealt with developing smart inter-usable technologies. In this project, I worked towards designing an intelligent photo sharing system for Android smartphones – called Picalilly.

Picalilly is a fully-functional, Android-based app that allows a group of friends or family members to share photos in real-time using a smart location-based service. In addition to allowing users to create public and private groups for sharing photos, it allows its users to create a geographic boundary for their groups. Picalilly allows its users to manually define geographical boundaries for sharing photos – limiting sharing within these user-defined boundaries as well as facilitating open sharing between strangers within such boundaries. I have contributed towards user research, main design concept, interaction design and UI design in this project. So far, we have carried out two field trails on Picalilly.

YouTube video of creating a geographic boundary.

PeCoCo Project – Nokia Research Center (2012)

While at Nokia, I worked in the Smart Metadata research team. I led two studies on Domestic Photography research. The first study was an ethnographic fieldwork to explore Domestic Photography. Using semi-structured interviews of 17 individuals and visits to 9 family homes, I studied how people capture, share and use domestic photos. Results of this work were used in a workshop at Nokia, to develop important “Implications” for designing intelligent photo sharing.  Using the results of the first study, our team at Nokia developed a paper-based prototype to support photo sharing called PhotoBook. PhotoBook contains two concepts to support intelligent interactions between sharing individuals. We carried out 3 participatory workshops involving different user groups to understand the usefulness of our prototype and inform Nokia’s future developments.

Smart Material Interfaces (2011)

Vacuum

Smart Material Interface (SMI) is the latest generation of user interfaces that makes use of engineered materials and leverages their special properties. SMIs are capable of changing their physical properties such as shape, size and color, and can be controlled under certain conditions. In a 3-month project, we designed an example of such an SMI in the form of a prototype of a vacuum cleaner. The prototype uses schematic electrochromic polymer at the suction head of the vacuum, which changes its color depending on the dust level on a floor. We emphasize on the new communication language supported by SMIs, which challenges the current metaphors of user interfaces in the field of HCI.

YouTube Video

AMIDA Project (2007-2011)

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AMIDA (Augmented Multiparty Interaction with Distance Access) is an EU 6th framework programme project that focuses on designing remote collaborative technologies. Within the AMIDA consortium, my research is about designing an ‘awareness system’ for supporting collaboration between Industrial Designers – focusing on their non-verbal communications in design studios.

As a part of my PhD project, I studied industrial design departments at two technical universities and a set of design companies in the Netherlands. The ethnographic fieldwork lasted approximately eight months, with nearly 250 hours spent in the field. The goal here was to understand the natural circumstances of designers’ collaboration, the tools and methods they use, and how the creative process of design is achieved.

I have developed a ubicomp system called Cooperative Artefact Memory (CAM). The work was carried out at DFKI (German Research center for Artificial Intelligence) in Saarbrücken, Germany. Using CAM co-workers (industrial designers) can share information about their ongoing projects through 2D barcodes attached to different physical objects (sketches, posters, collages, post-its, physical models and prototypes). Using mobile phones, co-workers can read and write annotations, messages and external web-links to specific physical objects. CAM allows the cooperative use of creating and using “memory” for different physical objects. An initial version of the system is under study at a design studio.

Here is a YouTube link to a video describing the system.

Panorama Project (2006-2007)

RENOIR

Panorama is an intelligent, interactive, artistically inspired large screen display situated in the staff room of an academic department. It attempts to mediate non-critical, non-work related information about the staff-members in an engaging manner to enhance social awareness within the department. Staff members can send personalized images and text messages to the system, at the same time the system detects movements in the public spaces and streams video on to the system. Hence, the Panorama system transforms implicit and explicit inputs from the staff members (digital images, text messages, live video streams) into an artistic representation to display the contextual information for supporting engagement, exploration, and playfulness within the academic department.


© 2018 Dhaval Vyas