All Project Plans

Theme One: Exploring and Understanding

Project Title Adaptive Information in the Physical City Theme Exploring and Understanding
Project Start Month 4 Project Duration 32 months

This project focuses on ?embedding? information in public spaces in the city, and making it accessible to people walking through those spaces. Remotely located devices as well as mobile devices would both display information and be used for visitors? expression of interests and activity. These devices would communicate with a central information service that would store both descriptive content and the information on visitor activity, and would deliver tailored information to display devices. Our intention is to offer access to historical and cultural information about the city, but also information about other people?s paths and explorations. An individual would have information displayed to them not only on the basis of their current location but also the route they took to get there, the information they have shown interest in along the way, and how this combined activity relates to that of other earlier visitors. Curators and designers would initially provide information about the buildings, locations and artefacts in these public spaces, but gradually visitors? implicitly and explicitly expressed interests would become apparent, enriching the resources for exploration and understanding of the city. We wish to explore placing both factual ?guided tour? information in the system as well as more personal and even fictonal narratives, so as to offer curators, designers and visitors significant breadth of expression of the character and history of the city. Information would be developed and represented using an information model common across the theme and driven by the work in supporting the artefact-based collections. The results of this work will feed back into embedded devices research challenges.

Partner Site Responsibilities Resources
Glasgow (Coordinator) Development and assessment of adaptive information systems Public Signs and Spaces
RCA Design of factual and fictional information embedded in the spaces N/A
Southampton Multimedia information model to link with adaptive information systems N/A
Bristol Provision of wearable guides and devices Wearables
Lancaster Network services and communications infrastructure Wired Lancaster
Month 12 Initial prototype for use in a public setting
Month 24 Refined version for use across museums, and initial adaptive information access system offered Equator-wide
Month 36 Completed city-wide public trials, and developed information access system

Project Title Building the digital city Theme Exploring and Understanding
Project Start Month 4 Project Duration 32 months

This project is a natural complement to the work on the physical city in that it will consider the setting where people in a virtual representation of a large scale urban environment are looking out to the physical world: planning their interactions with the physical world, or enjoying the virtual representation of the physical world for its own sake, or inhabiting the virtual because it is impractical to visit the real. The vision here is of a living virtual urban environment with dynamic display and interaction dependent on live feeds from the corresponding real environment. It will take as its starting point previous work at UCL on the construction of a model of much of London. There are several goals in this project. The first is real-time interactive display of the model. The second is improvement of photo-realistic display. The model is, of course, that of a real city. However, the model is currently static, representing the buildings and roads only. It does not represent the life of the city, the transport situation, the weather, and facilities at any moment in time. The goal is to make the model persistent, to take real-time feeds and update the model to reflect the changing state of the environment. A further goal is to allow people immersed in the model to carry out functions that are relevant to their activities in every day life: planning a journey, visiting a hotel and inspecting its facilities, meeting other people in virtual situ prior to really meeting them there, and so on. The model will be populated by agents to act as guides through the system, and present the interconnections between the real and the virtual that will be based on a common information model explored through the support for an artifact collection. The results of this work will feed back into embedded devices research challenges

Partner Site Responsibilities Resources
UCL Development of and presentation of the digital city UCL CAVE
Southampton Exploration of agents and the development of information model. N/A
Nottingham Exploration of mixed reality boundaries with the digital city Mixed Reality Lab
Month 12 Initial demonstration of the digital city demonstrating some live media links
Month 24 Population of the digital city with a large number of users and agents
Month 36 Assessment of the digital city in use and experience through different forms of display

Project Title Linking artefacts to electronic collections Theme Exploring and Understanding
Project Start Month 4 Project Duration 32 months

This project focuses directly on how information is linked between the real and the digital and seeks to extend existing hyperlink techniques to consider the development of "hyper channels" that allow richer forms of link to be supported. These links may include activity and content based links, links that emerge through a sense of agency, links that decay over a period of time and most critically links that span the digital to the physical. While some of these fundamental concepts and theories will be developed within the core IRC challenges this project will seek to explore these in use through the development of a set of supporting facilities for a artefact based collection. The work will explore the ways in which handheld devices, inexpensive sensors (for example, passive RF transducers) and mobile communication services may be used to manage an artefact collection so that it is equally accessible from both the physical and the digital. The lessons of linkage developed during this project will inform both the further refinement of the core information model and the development of a linking demonstrator. The project will initially develop support for the Turin and Ruskin libraries. The results of this work will feed into the appliances and devices challenges.

Partner Site Responsibilities Resources
Southampton Development of core information model and presentation techniques N/A
Sussex Assessment and exploration of interaction techniques and approaches. N/A
UCL Digital presentation and access to the artefacts CAVE
Glasgow Physical presentation and sensing of the artefacts N/A
Lancaster Development of context information models for mobile devices. Wired Lancaster
Month 12 Initial prototype for use in to browse the artefact collection from both the real and the physical
Month 24 Refined version allowing different forms of linkage between the physical to digital.
Month 36 Completed trials, and developed of refined information models

Theme Two: Playing and Learning

Project Title Digital toys and collaborative playgrounds Theme Playing and Learning
Project Start Month 5 Project Duration 4 years (Two phases)

In this project we shall explore and extend current forms of playful interaction through developing a combination of digital toys and collaborative playgrounds. Currently, there is a big difference between how children play in their everyday life (using physical toys, props, etc) and what they are able to do with the kinds of virtual playing currently supported by computer-based technology. In the former they are typically very creative using much imagination. In the latter (e.g. video games) they tend to be highly focused, solving complex problems but using very little imagination. Our overarching goal is to combine the computational power of digital technology with the pleasure and imagination engendered by interacting with physical toys . An example is the design of physical musical instruments that when interacted with create synasthesic digital representations (e.g. animations) in a virtual space (e.g.large shared screen or 3D CAVE). In so doing, we aim to enable children (and adults) to create new forms of expression. To achieve this we will use the exerience at COGS in developing technology for children (including developmental psychology, interaction design, engineering and AI techniques) together and combine this with the wearables infrastructure development at Bristol and the VR mixed reality research at Nottingham. We shall also work with the RCA using their deisgn methods (e.g. cultural probes) involving children and others in the design of the digital toys. A long term goal is to develop the digital toys so that they can be played with collaboratively in shared physical/virtual playgrounds by groups of children (e.g. putting on a performance creating a multimodal collage). The assessment and results of this work will feed back into the information appliance and wearables research challenge

Partner Site Responsibilities Resources
Sussex (Coordinator) Develop models of physical/virtual play. Design and evaluate digital toy prototypes VR lab, local schools and playgroups
RCA Design of conceptual models using cultural probes approach Design Lab
Bristol Development of cyberjackets for children and virtual playground infrastructure wearables and supporting infrastructure
Nottingham Development of virtual environments software to be incorporated into the collaborative playgrounds. User evaluation studies VR facilities, local schools
Lancaster Network services and communications infrastructure Wired Lancaster
Month 12 User studies of existing digital toys and how extend current play practice.
Month 24 Development of digital toy prototypes. Conceptual design of collaborative digital toys
Month 36 Implementation of wearables and other sensor-base infrastructures to support collaborative digital toys in virtual and physical playground
Month 48 Evaluation of digital toys and collaborative playground in the community (e.g. schools, playgroups, museums)

Project Title Performance and Tales of the city Theme Playing and Learning
Project Start Month 5 Project Duration 4 years (Two phases)

Virtual reality has been widely used in art, performance and entertainment. Examples range from games, to interactive art installations; and from the use of virtual studios to create conventional television programmes, to the use distributed virtual reality to support public participation in on-line TV shows (the idea of "inhabited television"that is being developed by Nottingham, along with BT and Illuminations Television). This project will move beyond virtual reality, to explore how mixed reality technologies might raise further possibilities for performance. Specifically, it will focus on whether mixed reality technologies can be used to engage performers and audiences who are on-line in a digital theatre with those who are located in a more traditional physical theatre. A key focus of the project will be the use of a traversable interface (see the research action on Interaction Techniques and Technologies) to allow performers and audience members to seemingly step through a projected display that joins the physical and digital theatres. The project will create and publicly stage a mixed reality performance in collaboration with professional performers who will be introduced to the IRC for its duration. This will build on an established history of such collaborations at Nottingham, including the NOWninety6 poetry performance, the Out of this World inhabited TV show, and most recently Desert Rain, a collaborative venture with the performing arts company Blast Theory. Ethnographic techniques will be used to analyse social interaction within the performance and the resulting observations and experiences will be fed back into the associated research actions.

The second phase of this project will follow on from performing in physical and digital theatres by considering how mixed reality technology can be used to engage members of the public and performers in new kinds of narratives. However, as opposed to using a projected display to link physical and digital theatres, the approach will be to use personal; technologies such as wearable computers to introduce ficticious characters and events into the experience of a real city. Participants may become involved in an on-going story as they travel about a physical city. Digital characters and events that only they and their fellow participants can perceive may be overlaid on the backdrop of everyday events. Distant performers will monitor the experience and respond to the their actions with yet more events, slowly involving them within an emerging plot. The aim of this project will be to explore the role of persistent interfaces and mobile technologies in creating new forms of narrative. Again, ethnographic analysis of interactions will provide insights into the use of the technologies, which in turn will feed back into the challenges on embedded displays and wearables.

Partner Site Responsibilities Resources
Nottingham (Coordinator) Design and implementation of using the MASSIVE platform as well as new techniques for traversable interfaces Mixed Reality Lab
Lancaster Ethnographic study and integration with "Wired Lancaster" Wired Lancaster
RCA Collaboration with content developers and design of potential scenarios N/A
Glasgow Development of public displays and adaptive interfaces for the city N/A
Bristol Implementation of wearable interfaces for performance and city visitors Wearable Devices
Month 9 Initial content and technical design of performance
Month 12 Start of public performances
Month 18 Analysis and feedback into research actions
Month 27 Initial content and technical design for tails of the city
Month 36 Start of public usage
Month 48 Analysis and feedback into research actions

Theme Three: Living and Working

Project Title Domestic information appliances Theme Living and Working
Project Start Month 6 Project Duration 30 months

The goal of this project is to develop new forms of domestic information appliance that support the social and domestic aspects of everyday life. This are is seldom addressed by existing digital technologies that currently merely migrate the concepts from the office to the home. One reason for this is that the appropriate concepts have yet to be uncovered for the home. This project will build upon a set of existing ethnographic studies undertaken by Lancaster University and initial design work from the RCA to explore new aesthetics and new functionality in support of a wider range of personal and social values. The project will use a combination of ethnography and design as a primary approach to investigation. Design techniques centred on evoking the imagination of designers as well as partners and users throughout the development process will be complemented by the results of ongoing studies of domestic environments and the assessment of devices in these environments.

As a starting point, we plan to explore values such as diversions from task-oriented activities, emotional communications, insight and awe, and community engagement. However, a major component of the project will be to engage in an iterative dialogue with perspective users as we develop product prototypes. Initially, we will build up a portrait of several target populations via their responses to "cultural probe" materials, coupled with ethnographic observations of the process. In a second phase, we will expand the design space via a large number of concept proposals, sketches, and scenarios, and use these materials to further probe the values of our target audience. In the third phase, we focus on creating a number of working product prototypes which themselves will serves as probes as well as objects for evaluation. The assessment and results of this work will feed directly back into the information appliances research challenge.

Partner Site Responsibilities Resources
RCA (Coordinator) Development of research probes, concept generation, design of prototypes N/A
Lancaster Ethnographic input into design-led user studies and Access to network services N/A
Bristol Wearable computing platform and wireless networks N/A
Glasgow Developed shared and adaptive displays for the home and city N/A
Month 12 Detailed results of design-led investigation into diverse user groups, Concept sketches and scenarios
Month 24 Concept proposal trials, generating focused feedback and more general target-group information, Refined concept proposals, scenarios, and early prototypes
Month 36 Product prototypes + user feedback

Project Title Domestic information appliances Theme Living and Working
Project Start Month 6 Project Duration 30 months

This project will exploit the notion of working in the open to explore the use of wearables to support new forms of work in open spaces. One of the goals of this research is to understand how universal access to information and the mixing of the digital an physical can be exploited to support forms of work that have traditionally not been amenable to the desktop centric views of computing that have predominated to date. Previous work on wearables has tended to focus on their use by operators who need hands free access to information. This project will advance the state of the art by considering a situation where a number of users need to cooperate and co-ordinate activities in potentially hazardous environments. The aim of this work is to uncover techniques to allow wearables to be used in an unconscious manner so that the wearer is not distracted from the particulars of the task at hand. As a driving application we will focus on providing support for the emergency services and mountain rescue in particular. The work will be driven by a series of ethnographic studies of the Cumbria mountain rescue team who have agreed to provide access to their work and to test equipment in trials and rehearsals. The assessment and results of this work will feed directly back into the wearables research challenge.

Partner Site Responsibilities Resources
Bristol (Coordinator) application programs for wearables, and construction of wearable Wearables
RCA Design of an appropriately unconsciously wearable platform N/A
Southampton Contextual access to on-line information through devices. N/A
Lancaster Ethnographic study to understanding the interaction between the groups and assessment N/A
Month 12 Initial prototype applications for use
Month 24 Refined applications, results of evaluation, generic mechanism input to research actions
Month 36 Completed Public trials supported by developed platform mechanisms

Projects Page