#HCI Capability in CompSci here at Manchester

The other week I was asked to prepare a one page overview of HCI in CS here at Manchester (for the EPSRC) – it seems to have evolved (may evolve) into the beginnings of a manifesto in part. You may find it interesting…


  1. We see our work as ‘Core HCI Research, Applied Across Disciplines’.
  2. We are interested in how users interact with the Web and how the Web, through its design and technology, enables users to interact with it (including Emergence & Evolution).
  3. We believe that by understanding difficult technical interactions in the context of user experience and dis- ability we are better placed to understand, and solve, the associated problems in everyone’s interactive behaviour.
  4. We take disabled interaction as an uber use modality – if we address these hard problems universal solutions will follow.
  5. We are small, focused, determined, very scientific, very empirical, in pursuit of (and achieving) core cross-disciplinary research excellence, and actively contributing to Manchester’s 35th world-wide rating for HCI (as formulated by Microsoft). Support from our 3rd sector funders shows the Big Society in action.

EPSRC Capability
We are directly placed within the EPSRC’s core HCI theme, with secondary links to mobile computing, vision, hearing and other senses, and information systems (Web). As part of the Digital Economy our work is placed in the ‘Sustainable Society’ specifically the improved delivery of information and services; ‘IT as a Utility’ within the accessibility of the Digital infrastructure; and ‘Communities and Culture’ by addressing the research topics of Human computer interactions, mobile computing, information systems (Web).

Activities within our HCI Capability

  • New knowledge and scientific advancement (and public engagement) via our studies into attention, and cognitive models of that attention, with the Museum of Science and Industry; Evaluations in Accessibility, Usability, and Understandability with National Museums Liverpool; and Investigations into visual complexity and visual aesthetics with Manchester City Art Galleries. And expressed in over 150 peer reviewed research papers, chapters, and books.
  • Attracting R&D investment from global businesses such as BBC, CTIC, Intel, IBM, and Google.
  • Contributing toward wealth creation and economic prosperity and social good by facilitating access to information.
  • Worldwide scientific advancement as our research is applied to Web standards through membership of five W3C working groups.
  • Shaping and Enhancing the Effectiveness of Public Services via contributions to government policy through the EPSRC Digital Economy Inclusion Cluster (as major contributors to the UK Government Digital Inclusion Proposal response document).
  • Delivering highly skilled researchers. All graduated doctoral students recruited over the last 10 years have quality research positions. Further, our research is applied to teaching, meaning students get a State of the Art education in HCI at both UG and PG level.
  • Contributing to increasing public awareness and understanding of science, economic and societal issues through Laboratory Manchester and running studies in public spaces such as the City’s Art Gallery; and taking part in various media events.

The UK estimates that the combined spending power of the disabled population in the UK is over £200 billion. Across Europe approximately 46 million people have a disability and over 20% of the EU will be over 65 within the next 30 years – with the population over 60 doubling in the same time. People will need to work long and with more exposure to technology, while suffering sensory/cognitive loss which hinders access to that technology. In this case, there are obvious economic, employment, and social advantages to removing technically imposed barriers from these groups. Our HCI capability directly addresses the removal of these barriers; helping disabled, and older people back to work, helping them to feel productive in themselves, reducing isolation and depression, and supporting patients and carers through their illnesses.

Sources of Funding

  • EPSRC Responsive, leading to EPSRC KTAs & EPSRC Windfall.
  • Basque Government Research Grant.
  • Leverhulme Trust Research Grant & Teaching Sabbatical Grant.
  • Google Research Grant.
  • Funding from BBC, Intel, Finerday, IBM TJ Watson, CTIC, and Buttercup Communications.
  • Funding from Walthew House (dual sensory loss), Age Concern / Silver Service, Macclesfield Eye Society, Disability Information Bureau, and Henshaw’s Society for Blind People.

2 thoughts on “#HCI Capability in CompSci here at Manchester

  1. Pingback: Our mission at the WEL | WEL

  2. Pingback: Finally! HCI Undergraduate Programme at Manchester ‘a genuinely distinctive and technically rich syllabus’ | Bugs Become Features...

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