Sunken Ripples: A New Interactive Experience

What an exciting time to play with technology and interactive experiences.  We are delighted to be contributing to the Glasgow Film Festival with Sunken Ripples, an experimental interactive installation.  This work is part of the EPSRC SIPS project in collaboration with Pufferfish Ltd.

25th of February, showings at 18:00 and 19:30, Glasgow IMAX

SunkenRipplesCome experience the exciting cutting edge technology of an interactive spherical display as part of a new kind audiovisual performance. For the first time ever, a spherical display will be joined with the IMAX screen to create an immersive and playful experience in an underwater landscape. Join us in the world of Sunken Ripples, where interaction and touch on the spherical display ripple into huge proportions.

This event is brought to you by the University of Glasgow Public and Performative Interaction Group.

Tickets are available for FREE at the IMAX from 16:00 on the day of the performance.



SICSA Micro Residency for Digital Interactive Art

Preparations are underway to create a digital art installation during a two-day micro residency.

Preparations are underway to create a digital art installation during a two-day micro residency.

We are busy organising SICSA’s first micro-residency, aiming to bring together artists, designers, and computing science researchers to create a piece of digital interactive art over a two day workshop.

The goal of this two-day workshop is to explore ideas and concepts for a public digital art installation, creating and designing with concepts such as playfulness, performative interactions, surveillance, touch, and lighting.

You’re Invited – Pop-up Exhibit

As part of the event, we will deploy our creation in a pop-up exhibition on the University of Glasgow campus.  The deployment will be experimental and created solely during the two day event.   The exhibit will take place in the outdoor area in front of the SAWB building from 4:30 PM on November 7th (building D20, map available at

For more information about the micro residency, please visit:

We're gathering everything from Play-Doh to interactive lights to create something for public spaces.

We’re gathering everything from Play-Doh and paint, to interactive lights and embedded electronics to create an installation for a public space.




CHI Interactivity 2014 in Interactions Magazine

After a successful Interactivity at CHI 2014, Steven Benford and I were given the opportunity to feature some of the most exciting and visually compelling Interactivity exhibits in Interactions Magazine.

Interactivity is a unique forum of the ACM CHI Conference that showcases hands-on demonstrations, novel interactive technologies, and artistic installations. At CHI 2014, we aimed to create a “one of a CHInd” Interactivity experience with more than 60 interactive exhibits to highlight the diverse group of computer scientists, sociologists, designers, psychologists, artists, and many more that make up the CHI community.

GaussBricks – Rong-Hao Liang, Liwei Chan, Hung-Yu Tseng, Han-Chih Kuo, Da-Yuan Huang, De-Nian Yang, Bing-Yu Chen.

Rainbowfish  - Grosse-Puppendahl, T., Beck, S., Wilbers, D., Zeiss, S., von Wilmsdorff, J., and Kuijper, A.

TransWall – Heo, H., Park, H-K, Kim, S., Chung, J., Lee, G., and Lee, W.

The Vocal Chorder – Unander-Scharin, C., Unander- Scharin, A., and Höök, K.

Check out the complete article on the ACM DL.

Spherical Interaction for Public Spaces (SIPS): EPSRC First Grant Scheme

The SIPS project will design and evaluate interactions on spherical displays in public spaces.

The SIPS project will design and evaluate interactions on spherical displays in public spaces.

It’s an exciting time for public and performative interaction at Glasgow University.  My first EPSRC grant has been funded, the announcement is available now on the EPSRC website.

So watch this space, this grant begins August 1st!

Grant Overview:  Public interactive displays have the potential to significantly enhance the quality of life for people living in future city spaces. However, current public displays and interfaces go unnoticed or completely ignored by the majority of passers-by. This presents a serious problem for the impact and uptake of touch sensitive displays if only a small minority will approach these displays and discover their interactive qualities. Existing approaches to designing and evaluating public displays have not been successful at realising the substantial opportunities that public displays afford. This research addresses this problem by exploiting recent technological developments in curved displays to create socially acceptable and enticing interactions for public spaces.

Curved displays offer exciting opportunities for public interaction that are not possible with flat displays. For example, a cylindrical display mimics the shape and form traditional kiosks for flyers and notices that can be seen in many cities. This kind of display can be placed in a walkway and be viewed from many perspectives. Other non-flat shapes, such as spherical displays, allow multiple users to interact while facing each other and viewing vertical content. Installations where users can see each other and observe others interacting are more encouraging and result in higher rates of interaction than displays where users are unable to observe each other. Another important aspect of a spherical display is that the entire display is never completely visible from one perspective. While areas on the top may be visible to both users vertical areas of the screen are only visible to some. These “private” areas of the display could be exploited to support sharing, ownership, and collaboration on a social display.

Given the new opportunities afforded by curved displays, foundational research is needed to understand how this new technology should be designed for and used in public spaces. There is limited research on interaction for curved surfaces and even less on curved surfaces for public spaces. An important aspect of this research is to develop novel multitouch interaction techniques that exploit the form factor of a curved display for public interaction. This will involve perceptual studies to learn the physical constraints and ergonomics of multitouch gestures on curved surfaces. This research will also explore how novel gestures and physical metaphors can enhance interaction on curved surfaces. This will involve evaluating user perceptions of control and responsiveness on a spherical display, simulating different levels of friction and weight for interactive elements.

Another important aspect of this research involves how curved displays work in real public spaces as compared to flat displays. Little is known about how different interaction styles encourage or discourage continued use of flat or curved public displays. In order to measure these metrics at scale for large numbers of passers-by, new evaluation techniques are needed. This project introduces a novel evaluation technique to capture and analyse pedestrian traffic around public installations. This approach can quantify different metrics of public display usage and enable the collection of large-scale data sets not feasible with traditional observation methods.

Finally, this research also aims to dramatically change the approach to designing public displays by considering context and impact on local spaces. Previous work on public displays has primarily involved flat displays and focused on making displays as noticeable and enticing as possible. This presents the possibility of creating unnecessary or unpleasant distraction and actually making public spaces less enjoyable places to be. This research will not only measure how enticing our displays are but also critically analyse the impact of these displays on the places where they are deployed.

Pervasive Displays 2014: Analysing Pedestrian Traffic Around Public Displays

The technique visualised pedestrian traffic and can show walking direction, speed, and path curvature.

The technique visualises pedestrian traffic and can show walking direction, speed, and path curvature.

In June 2014, I will present the results of my paper on an evaluation method for evaluating displays in public spaces.  The proposed evaluation technique brings together observational research techniques from sociology with social signal processing to automatically generate behavioural maps of public display usage.  This technique can be used in a variety of contexts to evaluate many different kinds of public displays and is non-intrusive and non-disruptive to the interaction being evaluated.  Another interesting aspect of this approach is that it can capture both interacting users and non-interacting or avoiding passers-by.  Upon publication, all of the data and code used in the paper will be made openly available.

Abstract: This paper presents a powerful approach to evaluating public technologies by capturing and analysing pedestrian traffic using computer vision. This approach is highly flexible and scales better than traditional ethnographic techniques often used to evaluate technology in public spaces. This technique can be used to evaluate a wide variety of public installations and the data collected complements existing approaches. Our technique allows behavioural analysis of both interacting users and non-interacting passers-by. This gives us the tools to understand how technology changes public spaces, how passers-by approach or avoid public technologies, and how different interaction styles work in public spaces. In the paper, we apply this technique to two large public displays and a street performance. The results demonstrate how metrics such as walking speed and proximity can be used for analysis, and how this can be used to capture disruption to pedestrian traffic and passer-by approach patterns.

Download the paper

Enter the Circle: Playful Interaction for Public Spaces

The display is situated within a circle of interactive boxes.

The display is situated within a circle of interactive boxes.

This week at the University of Glasgow, passers-by may have seen a mysterious installation in the walkway between the Boyd Orr and the Sir Alwyn Williams Building.  The installation involves a spherical touch sensitive display and eight interactive boxes filled with coloured light.  The display is encircled by a ring made up of these boxes.  Passers-by must enter the circle to touch the display and explore the installation’s interactivity.

Each box can be controlled by interacting with the sphere.

Each box can be controlled by interacting with the sphere.

The installation explores issues of playfulness in public spaces, environmental control, and discovery of interactivity.  We have placed the installation in this public space in order to understand how passers-by engage with an unknown interface in a public space, what they do when confronted with something playful in nature, and how they explore its capabilities.

This work comes from a five month collaboration between the University of Glasgow and Pufferfish Ltd in Edinburgh.  The project revolves around understanding how novel display form factors influence how these displays are used in public spaces.


Dr. Julie R. Williamson, University of Glasgow
Dr. John Williamson, University of Glasgow
Daniel Sundén, Product Designer
Dr. Jay Bradley, Pufferfish Ltd
Ben Allan, Pufferfish Ltd.

Mobile Social Signal Processing – Capturing Performative Input

This week, I published an article in LNCS Mobile Social Signal Processing that describes using performative actions as input in mobile settings.  I had never focused on social signal processing in my work until Alessandro came to the University of Glasgow and I realised there was some interesting overlap in multimodal interaction design and social signal processing.

So here is my first article looking at social signal processing for performative interaction.

Capturing Performative Actions for Interaction and Social Awareness

Abstract: Capturing and making use of observable actions and behaviours presents compelling opportunities for allowing end-users to interact with such data and eachother. For example, simple visualisations based on on detected behaviour or context allow users to interpret this data based on their existing knowledge and awarness of social cues. This paper presents one such “remote awareness” application where users can interpret a visualization based on simple behaviours to gain a sense of awareness of other users’ current context or actions. Using a prop embedded with sensors, users could control the visualisation using gesture and voice-based input. The results of this work describe the kinds of performances users generated during the trial, how they imagined the actions of their fellow participants based on the visualisation, and how the props containing sensors were used to support, or in some cases hinder, successful performance and interaction.

Celtic Connections Installation with Pufferfish Ltd

1016359_10102296579687751_325721798_nAs part of my current project, I am working with Pufferfish Ltd to evaluate spherical displays in public spaces.  One of our exciting installations combines my research and my love of Scottish music.  We’re working with Celtic Connections to install the PufferSphere display in the concert hall for the whole opening weekend of the festival.  It’s an exciting place to be and also my first public engagement since starting my SICSA Fellowship.  It’s been a wild ride but we’ve pulled it off with style.

The official news item…

Computer scientists plan to make Celtic Connection with global project

Visitors to the 21st Celtic Connections festival will have the chance to hold the world in their hands at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall from today (Thursday 16 January).

Researchers from the University of Glasgow’s School of Computing Science have teamed up with Edinburgh-based display developer Pufferfish Ltd to create an eye-catching illuminated globe which will provide information on 25 of the festival’s top acts.

Celtic Connections globe

Celtic Connections image

A computer-controlled display will project a high-resolution image of a world map onto the 600-mm spherical display’s touch-sensitive surface. Users can ‘spin’ the image, which is marked with the locations of artists’ home cities, and tap on artists’ names to find out more about their work and festival gigs.

In addition to providing an unusual source of useful information to Concert Hall visitors, a set of small cameras placed around the display will provide the research team with feedback on their reactions.

Research associate Dr Julie Williamson, who led the project, said: “This is the result of four months of work to develop the content to show on the PufferSphere display and determine how we could best measure visitors’ responses.

“We’re really interested in finding out more about how technology influences pedestrian traffic in public spaces, a process we call performative interaction. We want to know how long people spend at the display and whether they use it alone or in groups. We wanted to get involved with Celtic Connections because it attracts so many visitors from around the world and we were delighted when they agreed to help.

“We’re planning to continue our research with another public display at the University campus next month.”

Dr Williamson worked on the project with product designer Daniel Sundén and Pufferfish Ltd’s software manager Dr Jay Bradley and sales and marketing manager Ben Allan.


News Release: