A third thread is expressive interaction and media for live performance and production. Waves and Humanaquarium,
both presented at CHI last year, are novel performance systems that offer good examples of how we look to combine theory and practice in our research. More recently, we have also been looking at creativity in collaborative
TV production settings. StoryCrate is a production tool used in a studio or on location. Developed in collaboration
with BBC Research, it comprises a high-resolution tangible/multitouch display built entirely into a portable flight
case. StoryCrate (photo b) serves as a global status indicator for the production but also supports the skills and
creativity of on-site production staff by allowing them to instantaneously slot “rushes” from live camera shots into
a storyboard. This live storyboarding allows instant playback of clips in the final production order, rather than the
order in which they were shot—a never before accomplished process, especially while the shoot is taking place!
A fourth thread is health, well-being, and learning. Our research in this thread covers a broad range of contexts,
from collaborative learning and the emotional well-being of children in schools to the self-management of chronic
illness and public-health intervention design. One nice example is MagicLand, a Ph.D. project that is exploring how
children and play therapists could use digital technology in nondirective play therapy (photo d). This has required
us to design and evaluate our system in relation to the theory and practice of nondirective play therapy, which
is rather different from a traditional tabletop design exercise, with nondirective play therapy foregrounding the
creation of trust (between child and therapist), creative expression, and children’s sense of control over their environment. MagicLand is currently undergoing a three-month evaluation at a specialist play therapy center, which is
indicative of our commitment to real-world deployments and longer-term evaluation.
What’s next? David Kirk, Madeline Balaam, and Thomas Plötz have all recently joined Newcastle, which will give
our capabilities in fieldwork studies, design, and context-aware computing a real boost.
In terms of projects and programs, we are in the process of establishing a universitywide Centre of Digital
Health and Wellbeing, which will provide a focus for our existing collaborations with health researchers and a
springboard for new research in mental well-being, speech and language therapy, and user-centered design of
healthcare services. We have also just been awarded funding to support one of the U.K.’s four Knowledge Exchange
in Culture Lab, Newcastle, and the beautiful Northeast of England!
What about the longer-term vision? Of course, we want our research to
make a difference in people’s lives, but we’re also very aware that as a
university we have a role to play in our local and regional community. This
means pursuing longer-term endeavors through initiatives like Culture
Lab On-site, which is an off-campus location for community and business
engagement. Ultimately, we hope that with our civic and local academic
partners, Newcastle will be one of Europe’s leading centers for interaction
January + February 2012
10.1145/2065327.2065346 © 2012 aCM 1072-5220/12/01 $10.00