How do you describe your lab to visitors? The Computer-Mediated Living group (or CML) is one of five main research groups at Microsoft Research inCambridge, England. The lab itselfis the European arm of MicrosoftResearch, located in the heart ofCambridge in a new building nextto the main train station. CML isthe most interdisciplinary group inthe lab, and the one most concernedwith the human-facing aspects oftechnology. The roots of the groupbegan a decade ago with an agendato design and fabricate new humanexperiences with computing. Thetechnologies we are interested in canbe situated in any aspect of everydaylife, and play on many different kindsof human values, from increasingproductivity in the workplace torespecting the tenderness of familylife. As a part of Microsoft, we aim tobuild new technologies, map out newdesign spaces, and provide differentways of looking at human behaviorfrom low-level interaction to the socialand cultural ramificationsof technology.
What is a unique feature of your lab?Microsoft Research is quite differentfrom many industrial research labs.
We see tremendous value in engagingdeeply with academia—collaboratingclosely with professors, mentoringstudents, holding our work up to thescrutiny of peer review, and immersingourselves in the community. Of course,we also work closely with Microsoft’smany business units, helping them tobuild great products and experiences, tounderstand the broader technologicallandscape, and to shape the company’sfuture devices and services. As agroup, we are also unique in drawingon diverse perspectives across thesciences, engineering, arts, andhumanities, which is quite rare in thecorporate world.
How many people are in the lab, andwhat is the mix of backgrounds androles? There are about 30 of us in thegroup, but this can grow by 50 percentwhen our summer interns arrive andthings get livelier! We have a rangeof backgrounds, including computerscience, social science, hardware
As told by Abigail Sellen, Richard Banks,Richard Harper, and Steve Hodges